After a stunning, action-packed 56 laps the 2015 Formula 1 World Championship was decided by a snap of oversteer. Lewis Hamilton picked up his third World Championship title, equalling Sir Jackie Stewart and of course Niki Lauda’s tally as he won his fourth American Grand Prix in five attempts.
The Brit finished ahead of team mate Nico Rosberg and other Championship rival Sebastian Vettel in a dry race at the Circuit of the Americas.
After the race, a stone-faced Rosberg was in no mood to exchange a joke with Hamilton or take part in the podium celebrations, quickly giving his champagne to Paddy Lowe without a spraying a drop.
After a confusing and stop-start weekend, it was Rosberg who took pole in a postponed then cancelled qualifying session due to a massive downpour on Friday and Saturday. Hamilton lined up second alongside the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat. Due to an engine penalty, Vettel started in 14th.
On the run down to Turn 1, Hamilton forcefully announced his intentions. Despite wearing a mask and saying that he’s not bothered when he wins the championship, whether it be in Mexico or Brazil, that all changed when his visor dropped. Similar to the Japanese Grand Prix last month, Hamilton squeezed Rosberg off the greasy track in a brash move that left the German infuriated and dropped him to fourth.
The two Red Bulls looked quick on a drying track, Messers Kvyat and Ricciardo flying on the intermediate compound. Kvyat tried a couple of moves on Hamilton for the lead, but the tyres wouldn’t bite and keep him on the slippery island.
Rosberg did eventually dispatch of the charging Bulls on lap 8 after the first Virtual Safety Car period and set off in pursuit of his fellow Silver Arrow. Before he could pass Hamilton, Ricciardo tried and made a move stick to take the lead before the whole field made the decision to move onto the slick tyre, after failed attempts from the first retirees, Valtteri Bottas and Romain Grosjean.
Hamilton seemed to come in a lap too early for slicks, rejoining in eighth and only managing to fight back to fourth, behind the leading pack of Kvyat, Ricciardo and Rosberg. As Rosberg pulled away at a rate of knots, Hamilton passed Kvyat and Ricciardo for second and this time assumed the role of the hunter.
Kimi Raikkonen had an eventful race, putting his car in the barriers before rescuing it and pitting, but the Finn’s troublesome weekend was ended by high brake temperatures due to a damaged brake duct; probably caused by that little stop in the advertising hoardings. Contrarily, Vettel had a storming race, slowly but incisively carving through the field, setting several fastest laps in the process. Late on he mounted a final charge on Rosberg in order to spoil Hamilton’s party, but couldn’t find a way past.
McLaren Honda showed vast signs of improvement, Fernando Alonso running in fifth before hitting late race troubles, finishing outside the points in eleventh. Jenson Button suffered the opposite fate. After a sluggish start, which he called “embarrassing”, he valiantly fought like the wily old fox he is to finish in seventh, his best result of a perilous season.
The early Red Bull fight ended with rather a damp whimper than a bang, Kvyat burying his car in the Armco after an otherwise solid drive and Ricciardo struggling home to tenth after an altercation with the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg.
It was Kvyat’s crash that brought the race back into Hamilton’s control as he pit for a final set of soft rubber for a ten lap blast. He rejoined behind Rosberg and stayed there until lap 48. Coming out of Turn 12, Rosberg lit up the rear wheels and ran wide, gifting Hamilton the lead and the championship. It almost summed up Rosberg’s championship.
In the remaining nine laps, Hamilton brought the car home five seconds ahead of Rosberg, Vettel and the Toro Rosso of teen Max Verstappen to join an illustrious list of several time World Champions.
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