Valtteri Bottas converted pole position into race victory at Circuit of the Americas, but it wasn’t enough to stop teammate Lewis Hamilton wrapping up the drivers’ title, giving him his sixth world title.
The Mercedes pair were on the top two steps of the podium, with Max Verstappen completing the top three at the 2019 United States Grand Prix.
The Red Bull pit crew were in action early as Alexander Albon picked up damage in a first-lap skirmish with Carlos Sainz, leaving the Thai driver at the back of the field.
Excluding Albon, all the drivers from the top three teams started the race on mediums, but that left the Ferrari cars vulnerable to those behind them on softs. Sebastian Vettel lost out to his teammate and Lewis Hamilton, before Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo followed.
Drivers have been complaining of the bumpy nature of the circuit throughout the weekend, and the rough ride appeared to claim a victim as Vettel’s suspension failed, forcing the German out of the race.
Having started towards the back of the field, Kimi Raikkonen made a strong start, finding himself running within the points inside the opening 10 laps.
Verstappen was the first of the front runners to stop, attempting to undercut Bottas, but the Finn was called in by Mercedes on the following lap to ensure he stayed in front of the Dutchman.
Hamilton stayed out longer, hoping to make a one-stop strategy work while believing those around him would need to stop again. Verstappen and Bottas did both come in for a second change of rubber, but with Hamilton’s tyres also showing signs of wear, the pair both started to quick catch him on fresher tyres.
Robert Kubica was the second driver to retire from the race, with Williams calling the Polish racer into the garage after spotting a suspected hydraulics issue.
After his early stop left him last, Albon was the first to make his second trip through the pitlane, and continued to pick up places as he recovered from collision with Sainz, moving past the Spaniard and up to seventh with over 20 laps remaining.
Red Bull called the rookie in for a third stop though, putting him on fresh soft tyres for the final 15 laps of race. There was a flurry of activity in the pitlane as Leclerc, Norris and a number of the midfield runners all made second stops to ensure their tyres made it to the end of the race. Hamilton asked whether he had the tyres to last the distance, and was told he might need to stop again.
Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg fought hard over 11th place, with the German seemingly coming out on top, but all four wheels on his Renault were off the track, forcing him to hand the place back to the Alfa Romeo driver. Hulkenberg managed to repass the Finn though as he pushed for a points finish late on.
Hamilton committed to the one-stop strategy, with Bottas getting in DRS range with five laps remaining, although Verstappen continued to close on both Mercedes drivers in third. Bottas’s first opportunity came when the Briton ran slightly wide, but Hamilton defended hard against his teammate to maintain the lead. Another chance presented itself on the next lap, and this time the Finn made the move stick.
Sniffing a chance to take second, Verstappen quickly cut a 4.5-second gap to Hamilton to get within the Mercedes’s DRS zone, but the Red Bull’s opportunities to pass were limited when Kevin Magnussen suffered an apparent brake failure, resulted in a double waved yellow in sector two.
For a second straight race, there was late drama involving Daniil Kvyat as he tangled with Sergio Perez, while Pierre Gasly was classified 16th despite finishing the race in the pitlane, with the stewards taking a look at the incident and handing the Russian a five-second time penalty.
Leclerc’s late second pitstop helped him wrap up the bonus point for setting the fastest lap of the race, while Daniel Ricciardo took the honours as the highest finisher from outside the front-running teams after getting the better of the McLarens early on.
1 Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
5. Alexander Albon (Red Bull)
6. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
7. Lando Norris (McLaren)
8. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)
9. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault)
10. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
11. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
12. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso)**
13. Lance Stroll (Racing Point)
14. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)
15. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
16. Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso)*
17. George Russell (Williams)
Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
Robert Kubica (Williams)
Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
*Gasly retired but was classified 16th
**Kvyat crossed the line 10th but was handed a five-second penalty for causing a collision with Perez
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