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Images from the 2018 US Grand Prix

F1: Why the Drivers’ Championship Battle Is Heading To Mexico

Oct 222018

Lewis Hamilton's fifth world championship celebrations were put on ice after a thrilling United States Grand Prix. The four-time World Champion’s third place podium for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport Team, and Sebastian Vettel's four-placed finish, means the battle for the drivers' championship rolls over to the Mexican Grand Prix on the 28th October.

The race in Austin was exciting from lights to flag, and featured some of the best wheel-to-wheel racing of the season, as Lewis slugged it out in his Silver Arrow with Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen. The raging battle drew the spectators in the grandstands at the Circuit of the Americas to their feet, as they lapped up the fight between the three drivers vying for the victory.

Lewis, who now holds a commanding 70-point lead in the championship over Vettel, took no unnecessary risks and settled for third place after an early strategy call saw him make two stops while his rivals only took one.

Lewis said: "I was catching towards the end but we probably needed another few laps to be honest. That wide moment in the final laps with Max meant that I picked up a lot of dirt on my tyres and it took at least a lap to get rid of it. If we were able to extend the race, the other guys were on older tyres so it would have been interesting in that respect but ultimately we ran out of time.


“I was trying to win the race but you look at the two guys next to me on the podium, they're not fighting for a championship so I had to be very very careful how I navigated around them. Championships are not won by fighting and making silly mistakes.


“The key was that I at least finished ahead of Seb and for me it doesn't matter when you win the championship as long as you get it done. We were going for the win today, but it wasn't meant to be. We're going to Mexico next; it's such a beautiful place, but I haven't always had the best results there, so I definitely want to win that race."


Lewis's attempts to overtake Verstappen and finish in second proved inconsequential however, as Vettel squeezed past Valtteri Bottas late on. The Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport team driver admitted he struggled for pace and will immediately turn his attentions to identifying the short-comings in order to make amends in Mexico City.

Valtteri added: "We knew going into the race that it was going to be a difficult afternoon. The Ferraris looked very quick yesterday and there were a lot of question marks because of the limited running in the dry, so making predictions on the set-up and the tyres was very tricky. We didn't quite have the pace that we were hoping for, especially on the Soft tyres. We had planned for a one-stop race and that's what we did, but in hindsight the second stint was just a little bit too long.


“My tyres started to go three or four laps before the Sebastian overtook me and they were just completely gone in the end, that's why he managed to build such a big gap in only a few laps. But we couldn't work the two-stop work with Lewis either, so overall we were just lacking pace today. We will now do our usual work of analysing and understanding why we weren't quicker today, so we can come back stronger and hopefully win in Mexico. There's only three more races left in the season and the fight is far from over, so we will give it everything to get the best results possible.”