When it comes to racing at Austin, Lewis Hamilton just can’t stop winning. And in doing so on Sunday, he helped Mercedes to another title – and another slice of history…
Lewis Hamilton’s victory was his ninth of the season, 62nd overall and fourth successive in the United States. Since the race moved to Austin in 2012, he’s only missed the top step once – in 2013 when he was fourth.
Including his victory at Indianapolis in 2007, the Briton now has six US Grand Prix wins to his name, moving clear of Michael Schumacher at the top of the all-time standings.
Hamilton also surpassed Schumacher in another category – front row starts. The Briton has been on the front row of the grid 117 times in his career, more than anyone else in history. He’s also now won from pole 40 times, a record he shares with the great German.
Hamilton’s victory leaves him 66 points clear of Vettel at the top of the drivers’ standings and needing just a top-five finish in Mexico to guarantee him a fourth drivers’ title. Assuming he wraps up the championship – and no one has overturned such a big deficit previously – he’ll become just the fourth driver, after Juan Manuel Fangio, Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, to win four or more crowns.
But while Hamilton’s wait for the title goes on another week, the Briton’s win helped Mercedes seal a fourth straight constructors’ title. The Silver Arrows are only the fourth team in history to have achieved that feat after McLaren 1988 to 1991, Ferrari 1999 to 2002 (plus 2003 and 2004 into the bargain!) and Red Bull (2010 to 2013).
That Mercedes clinched the title with their 75th win and 150th podium finish in F1 was simply the icing on the cake.
Sebastian Vettel came home second to record his 11th podium finish of the year, which is just one fewer than Hamilton. The German had not finished on the rostrum since the Italian Grand Prix.
Kimi Raikkonen made it a double celebration for Ferrari as he assured the Italian team of their fourth double rostrum finish of the year with his fifth appearance on the podium of 2017. It was also the first time that the Prancing Horse have seen both their drivers finish in the top three in Austin.
Raikkonen was elevated to third after the stewards intervened to give Max Verstappen a post-race time penalty, simultaneously preventing the young Dutchman from scoring three consecutive podium finishes for the first time in his career.
Had he been allowed to keep the place it would have been the second time this year Verstappen had finished third from P16 on the grid, having achieved the feat in China back in April. As it was, the 20-year-old lost a podium for the second time, having incurred a similar post-race penalty in Mexico last year.
Behind Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas was disappointed with fifth, despite that being his best ever finish in Austin. By contrast Force India’s Esteban Ocon was delighted with his sixth place – a position he’s captured five times this season, including at the last two races.
Ocon had further reason to smile as he became the first driver in F1 history to finish his first 26 Grand Prix starts, eclipsing a record once held by Max Chilton. The Frenchman has only missed the points once this season – in Monaco, where he was 12th.
Sergio Perez gave Force India their 14th double points finish from 17 races the season, though he’s now only 13 points ahead of his young team mate in the drivers’ standings.
Between the two Force Indias came Carlos Sainz, who became the first driver to score points on his Renault debut since Giancarlo Fisichella in 2005. The six points he earned helped Renault leapfrog Haas in the constructors’ standings and close to within five points of the Spaniard’s former team, Toro Rosso.
Speaking of Toro Rosso, who became the first team to field a completely new driver line-up from one Grand Prix to the next since Lotus in 1994, they saw returnee Daniil Kvyat finish in the points for the first time since Spain – and just the third time all season – with 10th.
The Russian’s new team mate Brendon Hartley, meanwhile, finished 13th on his Grand Prix debut (and first single-seater race since 2012!) as he became the first New Zealander to start a Grand Prix since Mike Thackwell’s participation in Canada in 1984. Rather coincidentally, Hartley’s maiden outing also coincided to the day with the 50th anniversary of countryman Denny Hulme being crowned world champion.
The only points finisher we haven’t mentioned yet is Felipe Massa, who made it three top-ten finishes in a row as he came home ninth. The Brazilian is now four points and two places above team mate Lance Stroll in the drivers’ standings.
Elsewhere there was more disappointment for Fernando Alonso as he failed to reach the flag for the 11th time this season after yet another technical issue on his Honda-powered McLaren.
But you could argue that Alonso wasn’t the most unlucky driver in Austin. That honour surely goes to Nico Hulkenberg, who retired from the race for the fourth year in a row. In that time the German has completed just four racing laps. Mexico can’t come soon enough…