Despite finishing second to Bottas in the US Grand Prix, the Briton clinches World Championship
Bottas, who was the last man with a chance of denying Hamilton another title, needed nothing less a victory at the Circuit of the Americas. He did his part, collecting his seventh career win and fourth of the season. But it was not enough to keep the Briton from becoming only the second driver after seven-time champion Michael Schumacher to win six titles.
The math was simple but daunting for Bottas. Hamilton would secure overall top spot by finishing eighth or better but would not need any points to retain the championship if the Finn did not win. Hamilton already has plenty of records, including 87 pole positions. His 83 wins put him on course to surpass Schumacher’s record tally of 91 next year.
The victories have also given him the chance to join the German great at the top of Formula One’s list of drivers’ champions. “I’m working on a masterpiece and I haven’t quite finished it yet,” said Hamilton, who could join Schumacher next season with a seventh title. “I think it takes a long time to master a craft and I feel like I am mastering it. But there is still more to master, to add to it.”
A sell-out crowd, that included both of Hamilton’s parents, arrived early at a sun-kissed circuit outside Austin, expecting to see a coronation. And, it was not disappointed as the Briton battled Bottas to the death. Much of the drama had been removed from the championship chase but Hamilton, vying for a seventh US GP success, had the fanatics on the edge of their seats.
He fell just short of crossing the finishing line first, but nothing could stop him from sealing another title. “I did my part and it feels good. Hamilton was strong as usual, so he got some points and clinched the championship,” said Bottas.
Any thoughts that Hamilton might approach the race with some caution were quickly removed as he went on the attack right from the start, shooting from fifth to third before the first lap was completed. Bottas got away from pole position cleanly, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Hamilton in hot pursuit.
With Hamilton on a one-stop strategy and Bottas and Verstappen on two, the Briton took over the lead after his two challengers made their second pit-stops. But with four laps to go, Bottas swept past Hamilton, who then focused on fighting off a late challenge from third-place finisher Verstappen.
Sebastian Vettel’s day came to an early end when his Ferrari suffered right rear suspension failure after just eight laps. Teammate Charles Leclerc started fourth and finished in the same position but more than a minute behind the winner.