VALTTERI Bottas claimed his fourth win of the season to take the US Grand Prix in fine style. But it did nothing to stop Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton from claiming his sixth world title.

A jubilant Hamilton finished second,  with Max Verstappen in the Red Bull less than a second behind in third place.

Hamilton used a one-stop strategy to secure his crown — and close in on Michael Schumacher’s record seven F1 championship titles.

 “What an incredible weekend,” Hamilton said. 

“To everyone that came out, I cannot believe it. I really can’t believe it.

“Overwhelming. It was such a tough race for us. 

“I didn’t think the one stop was going to be possible. My dad told me when I was six or seven years old never to give up. 

“I was pushing as hard as I could, I was hopeful that I was going to be able to win today but I didn’t have it in the tyres.” 

While it was party time in the Mercedes camp, it was a comparatively dismal day for Ferrari.

Both cars made poor starts and Sebastian Vettel, who was on the front row, retired on lap 7 after part of his car’s suspension collapsed.

Teammate Charles Leclerc went on to finish a distant fourth, close on a minute behind Verstappen, while Red Bull’s Anglo-Thai driver, Alex Albon, survived a first lap whack with Carlos Sainz in the McLaren and eventually clawed his way back to fifth place.

Surprisingly, Leclerc did score an extra point — for somehow setting the fastest lap.

Daniel Ricciardo had a great race for Renault, scorching past Vettel on the first lap and running in fifth place for many of the 56 laps of the Circuit of the Americas at Austin, Texas, before finishing sixth, ahead of the McLarens of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz.

Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg was also in the points in ninth and although Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat crossed the line 10th, the Russian was given a five-second time penalty for crashing into Sergio Perez in the Racing Point in the closing lap.

That dropped Kyvyat to to 12th, behind Kimi Raikkonen, who made a great start from 17th on the grid in the Alfa Romeo, while Perez was elevated to 10th.

Up front in the early stages, it was Bottas leading from and Verstappen, with Hamilton third and Leclerc  fourth, but a long pit stop and the Ferrari’s lack of pace, put paid to any hope of the red car offering any challenge.

Verstappen made a stop for fresh rubber on Lap 35, which dropped him to third, while Bottas did the same a lap later, emerging in second place as Hamilton assumed the lead.

The Finn took up the chase, getting past Hamilton four laps from the end and taking the chequered flag four seconds in front. 

“It’s a nice win, feels good,” Bottas said. 

“We had strong pace so very, very happy with the win. It was the only thing I could really focus on and do this weekend in terms of the championship. Obviously, it wasn’t enough and Lewis got the title.

“Obviously big congrats to him. I personally failed on my target this year. There’s always next year but he deserves it.” 

Daniel Ricciardo, who started from sixth on the grid, rated the Austin race as one of the ‘most fun’ of the year.

 “This one is certainly up there,” the wide-smiling Australian said.

“We reached our target of beating both McLarens, so that’s really pleasing. 

“It was a strong race and we showed good pace. I enjoyed the battle with Lando [Norris] as I passed him and he passed me back a couple of times at the start and then put some pressure on towards the end. 

“We held on for sixth, so it’s solid points for the team with Nico in the top 10 as well.”

Nico Hülkenberg echoed Ricciardo’s thoughts. 

“I’m really happy to take two points today especially after losing some ground on lap one,” he said.

“We had good pace, some fun fights, so we can be pleased to score two points today.”

Team principal Cyril Abiteboul said it was a great day for the Renault F1 Team.

“Today it was the Formula 1 we like to see, with on-track action. 

“We are satisfied with our American campaign and a nice harvest of points over the last two races. 

“I would also like to congratulate Lewis Hamilton for his sixth title. It is particularly inspiring to see how he and his team are able to make things look easy when this sport is so demanding for everyone involved.”

Next race is at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Sao Paulo  for the Brazilian Grand Prix on November 17.

Results

1 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 56 1:33:55.653 25
2 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 56 +4.148s 18
3 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA 56 +5.002s 15
4 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 56 +52.239s 13
5 23 Alexander Albon RED BULL RACING HONDA 56 +78.038s 10
6 3 Daniel Ricciardo RENAULT 56 +90.366s 8
7 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN RENAULT 56 +90.764s 6
8 55 Carlos Sainz MCLAREN RENAULT 55 +1 lap 4
9 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 55 +1 lap 2
10 11 Sergio Perez RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES 55 +1 lap 1
11 7 Kimi Räikkönen ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 55 +1 lap 0
12 26 Daniil Kvyat SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 55 +1 lap 0
13 18 Lance Stroll RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES 55 +1 lap 0
14 99 Antonio Giovinazzi ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 55 +1 lap 0
15 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 55 +1 lap 0
16 10 Pierre Gasly SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 54 DNF 0
17 63 George Russell WILLIAMS MERCEDES 54 +2 laps 0
18 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 52 DNF 0
NC 88 Robert Kubica WILLIAMS MERCEDES 31 DNF 0
NC 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 7 DNF 0

Note – Kvyat received a post-race, 5-second time penalty for causing a collision. Leclerc scored an additional point for setting the fastest lap of the race.

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Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.