Bright skies, the open road, pole position, and a race win. Not a bad way for Silver Arrows racer Lewis Hamilton to spend a weekend in the USA.
Claiming his 50th career victory at the incredible Circuit of the Americas, Lewis’ dominant performance in Austin has now closed the drivers’ championship title gap with teammate Nico Rosberg to 26 points.
While the fourth edition of the US Grand Prix was set to be fought out over 56 laps, in truth, for Lewis at least, the most important moments were the first 300-milliseconds. The time between the start lights snuffing-out and the 31 year-old dropping the clutch on his 900bhp F1 W07 Hybrid, proved to be the most decisive in his path to the podium.
Putting the start-troubles of the past races behind him, Lewis confidently rocketed into the lead, and simply didn’t look back. A tight two-stop strategy followed, switching between soft and medium compound tyres, cementing a rock-solid drive to the podium.
It’s no secret that that the British-born triple World Champion loves spending time stateside, but judging from the screams from the capacity sun-scorched 120,000 fans packing out the grandstands, Lewis’ lead in the Silver Arrows podium lockout was a sure-fire favorite in the Lone Star State.
Talking about his first win since the German Grand Prix in July, Lewis told us: “This has always been a good hunting ground for me. I love being here in the States. It very much feels like home, and we have had some incredible support this weekend, which I’m so thankful for. So a big, big thank you to everyone and the team did a great job this weekend to put us both up there and I’m very proud to be a part of it.
“I had completely forgotten that it was going to be the fiftieth [win]. It’s been a long time coming. Once again, and I know I’ve mentioned it before but I’ve been here for ten years, I’ve had lots of ups and downs and lots of great opportunities to work with some incredibly gifted people who have helped me get here today. Then my family as well without whom I wouldn’t be here today. It’s kind of very surreal, for sure that there are only three of us but hopefully onto bigger and better things.
“All I can do is do my best and continue to drive as I have this weekend. Nico’s been driving fantastically well all year. So the battle will continue – but I know we’ll have all this support that will continue as well. So please keep your fingers crossed guys.”
It’s surely a measure of the level of success that Nico Rosberg has worked for and enjoyed this season, when he is not totally satisfied with securing second place. Holding firm for the majority of the Grand Prix ahead of nearest on-track rival Daniel Ricciardo, Nico drove an equally textbook race to his team mate, from P2 on the grid, proving his potential championship winning credentials are on point.
“Second place is OK, it’s damage limitation here today of course,” explained Nico. “I wanted to win here in America, that would have been awesome, but it wasn’t to be.
“I mean I lost out a bit at the start unfortunately, and then gave it everything to come back. I got away really well. Not quite enough to give it a go down the inside so Lewis would just have closed so no point in trying that so just went round the outside. All was looking good, actually, I just struggled for a bit of grip then out of the corner and Daniel had that extra grip and that’s it. We knew that that was going to be a risk with the super-softs. Then I just went flat out after that, and it worked out of course with the Virtual Safety Car.”
It all sets things up for an incredible run-down to the final-flag of the season in three races time. Out of 75 Grand Prix Lewis and Nico have contested as team mates, the duo have locked in 51 wins. Certainly from a stat point of view, the next hat-trick of podiums then could belong to the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS Formula One™ Team. But with the gloves firmly off, time will be the only way to tell who will take the top step.
Tune into the Mexican Grand Prix on the 30th October to find out how it all goes down. Full results from the 2016 US Grand Prix are available, here.
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 56 1h38m12.618s
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 56 4.520s
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 56 19.692s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 56 43.134s
5 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 56 1m33.953s
6 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Ferrari 56 1m36.124s
7 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 55 1 Lap
8 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 55 1 Lap
9 Jenson Button McLaren/Honda 55 1 Lap
10 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 55 1 Lap
11 Kevin Magnussen Renault 55 1 Lap
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Ferrari 55 1 Lap
13 Jolyon Palmer Renault 55 1 Lap
14 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 55 1 Lap
15 Felipe Nasr Sauber/Ferrari 55 1 Lap
16 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 55 1 Lap
17 Pascal Wehrlein Manor/Mercedes 55 1 Lap
18 Esteban Ocon Manor/Mercedes 54 2 Laps
- Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 38 Retirement
- Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 28 Gearbox
- Esteban Gutierrez Haas/Ferrari 16 Retirement
- Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1