Lewis Hamilton took victory in the US Grand Prix, sealing the 2015 Drivers’ Championship, his third title.
Hamilton becomes only the second Brit to claim a hat-trick; Jackie Stewart reached the same mark in 1973. He also becomes the first British driver to successfully defend a title and, most importantly for Hamilton, he matches Ayrton Senna’s record. Only Alain Prost (4), Sebastian Vettel (4), Juan Manual Fangio (5) and Michael Schumacher (7) are ahead in the all-time rankings.
Hamilton’s win was far from straightforward. Running at Circuit of The Americas on Friday and Saturday was severely disrupted by torrential rain. Qualifying has postponed until Sunday morning, but still the rain persisted to the extent that the third session had to be cancelled and the grid set on the times from Q1 and Q2.
Nico Rosberg set the pole time, while Hamilton lined up alongside. Both made perfect getaways in the damp conditions and Hamilton dove for the inside line into the first corner. Struggling for grip he ran wide, taking Rosberg with him. The German ran out onto the run-off and rejoined in fourth, behind the Red Bulls of Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo.
Running on intermediate tyres, the Red Bulls were quicker than the Mercedes and an intense dogfight developed between the top four over the first third of the race. Kvyat made a couple of valiant attempts to take the lead, but couldn’t quite complete the move.
The track dried slowly, but as it did Kvyat and Ricciardo dropped back. Their race unravelled from there, Kvyat crashing out and Ricciardo dropping down to tenth after suffering damage in a tangle with Nico Hulkenberg.
Hamilton struggled initially on the drying track, too, allowing Rosberg to seize the advantage. As safety cars and tyre strategy played out, it looked like Rosberg might be able to steal the win, but a big oversteer moment allowed Hamilton through. A further caution period for Kvyat’s crash allowed Hamilton to consolidate his position and claim victory.
Sebastian Vettel worked his way up to third from 14th on the grid after an epic, race-long tussle with Toro Rosso youngsters Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr. Verstappen followed STR alum Vettel through to fourth.
Sergio Perez took fifth for Force India, ahead of McLaren’s Jenson Button, his best finish this year for the beleaguered squad. Sainz, Pastor Maldonado, Felipe Nasr and Ricciardo closed out the top ten.
Hamilton was literally jumping for joy after the race while Rosberg had a face like thunder, apparently sore about Hamilton’s robust move at the start of the race. Vettel, on the other hand, seemed to care not a jot that he had been denied the chance of a fifth title.
Three races remain, the next in Mexico on 1 November. It’ll be interesting to see what approach Hamilton takes as focus turns to the battle for second in the championship, between Vettel and Rosberg.
US Grand Prix results after 56 laps
- Lewis Hamilton — Mercedes — 1:50:52.703
- Nico Rosberg — Mercedes — +2.850
- Sebastian Vettel — Ferrari — +3.381
- Max Verstappen — Toro Rosso-Renault — +22.359
- Sergio Perez — Force India-Mercedes — +24.413
- Jenson Button — McLaren-Honda — +28.053
- Carlos Sainz Jr. — Toro Rosso-Renault — +30.619
- Pastor Maldonado — Lotus-Mercedes — +32.273
- Felipe Nasr — Sauber-Ferrari — +40.257
- Daniel Ricciardo — Red Bull-Renault — +53.571
- Fernando Alonso — McLaren-Honda — +54.816
- Alexander Rossi — Marussia-Ferrari — +1:15.277
- Daniil Kvyat — Red Bull-Renault — DNF
- Nico Hulkenberg — Force India-Mercedes — DNF
- Marcus Ericsson — Sauber-Ferrari — DNF
- Kimi Raikkonen — Ferrari — DNF
- Felipe Massa — Williams-Mercedes — DNF
- Romain Grosjean — Lotus-Mercedes — DNF
- Valtteri Bottas — Williams-Mercedes — DNF
- Will Steven — Marussia-Ferrari — DNF
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By Only Motors