THE 2019 American Grand Prix won’t go down as one of the most exciting races, but it will undoubtedly be remembered as the day when Lewis Hamilton became a six-time Formula 1 world champion.
Valtteri Bottas made the perfect start from pole position and drove a stellar race to take the seventh win of his career. The victory in Texas makes 2019 Bottas’s most successful season to date in which he will finish as runner-up in the driver’s championship.
Max Verstappen ran comfortably second for the opening stint of the race while Hamilton, starting fifth, made relatively short work of both Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel.
A cunningly slow formation lap from Bottas had meant that neither Ferrari was able to get its medium compound tyres in the operating window that subsequently saw them struggle for grip.
In addition to struggling for grip, there was clearly something amiss with Vettel’s Ferrari as Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo easily passed him.
Vettel appeared to be recovering and closing the gap to the McLaren and Renault ahead of him but a few laps later the German driver suffered a startling right-rear suspension failure.
It didn’t get any better for the Italian team as Leclerc ran a distant fourth for the remainder of the race without ever having the pace to threaten even the last step of the podium.
Up front, Bottas and Verstappen opted for a two-stop strategy while Hamilton banked on a one-stop strategy. However, unlike in Mexico a week earlier, Hamilton was not able to hold onto the lead.
On lap 52 a charging Bottas swept past his teammate and into the lead. Hamilton’s problems weren’t over though as Verstappen too closed to within less than a second of him in the closing stages.
However, the Dutchman never got close enough to attempt an overtake and eventually finished third while Leclerc trundled home a distant fourth.
After being squeezed off the track, forced into the pitlane on lap 1, and being plumb last, Alex Albon drove a brilliant race to bring his Red Bull home in fifth place.
The Thai driver, only seven races into his Red Bull career, has grown in confidence at every race weekend and seems to be a shoe in to remain at the team for the 2020 season.
Ricciardo, too, delivered an impressive drive to finish sixth in the Renault ahead of the ever-impressive McLaren pair of Norris and Carlos Sainz in seventh and eighth.
Nico Hulkenberg was ninth, while for a second straight week, Daniil Kvyat was given a last-lap penalty for causing a collision. Sergio Perez, the casualty of the collision, was promoted to 10th as a result of the Russian’s penalty. One of the most beautiful things about sport is that it cannot be predicted.
There was simply no way to know that the young boy from humble beginnings in Stevenage would one day become a six-time Formula 1 world champion.
There will be those who protest vehemently against the idea that Hamilton is one of the greatest drivers in the history of the sport.
And while opinions can certainly be made, they cannot be quantified.
But titles can and Hamilton already has six of them.
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