Hamilton dominates for 50th Career Victory at COTA

by Paul Hensby

Lewis Hamilton enjoyed a quiet afternoon at the Circuit of the Americas as he led from start to finish to clinch his seventh victory of the season and the fiftieth of his Formula 1 career.

The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team driver was in a race of his own all afternoon long, and led home team-mate Nico Rosberg by 4.520 seconds after controlling the pace and not unnecessarily overexerting himself.

Rosberg took advantage of pitting under a virtual safety car to jump Daniel Ricciardo for second position, meaning the German lost the least possible points to Hamilton, and now sits twenty-six points ahead with three races remaining.

Ricciardo was frustrated that Rosberg was able to pit under the virtual safety car and was forced to settle for the bottom step of the podium, and will be further annoyed that it was his Red Bull Racing team-mate Max Verstappen that caused the virtual safety car in the first place.

Verstappen had been running inside the top five all afternoon long, but after his second pit stop, the Dutchman slowed on the back straight and after attempting to get back to the pits, eventually pulled off the track to retire. Unfortunately the car could not be rolled back behind the barrier, meaning a tractor was required to move the RB12, and as thus the virtual safety car was deployed.

Sebastian Vettel secured fourth for Scuderia Ferrari but a long way adrift of the three ahead of him after making a third stop with just three laps remaining, but at least the German saw the chequered flag, with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen ending his race early just after his third pit stop when he was released without his right rear tyre being attached properly.

The Finn rolled back into the pits, but exited the car and walked back into his pit garage frustrated after being involved in the battle for the podium up until then.

Fernando Alonso made a move down the back straight on the penultimate lap of the race to take fifth away from Carlos Sainz Jr to give McLaren-Honda Formula 1 Team a boost, while the younger Spaniard’s sixth place equalled the career best finish to date for the Scuderia Toro Rosso driver.

Alonso also made a robust move on Felipe Massa with a handful of laps remaining, with the Brazilian being forced off track as a result after the duo banged wheels. The Williams Martini Racing driver initially fell in behind the veteran Spaniard but a puncture saw him pit with two laps remaining, but such was the gap behind, he was still able to finish seventh.

Sergio Perez recovered from a first lap spin when hit from behind by Daniil Kvyat to claim eighth for the Sahara Force India F1 Team, having dropped as low as seventeenth. Kvyat was handed a ten-second time penalty for his part in the incident, and eventually came home twelfth in the second Toro Rosso.

Jenson Button made it two McLaren’s inside the top ten with a ninth place finish, while Romain Grosjean secured a point for the Haas F1 Team in their first home event despite having started down in seventeenth position.

Kevin Magnussen just missed out on points in eleventh for the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team after an aggressive three-stop strategy ahead of Kvyat and team-mate Jolyon Palmer, with two Renault drivers spending much of their afternoon locked together in battle.

For a while it looked like the Sauber F1 Team were in contention for their first point of the season when Marcus Ericsson ran eleventh, but the Swede dropped down to fourteenth in the closing stages meaning the team remain behind Manor Racing MRT in the Constructors’ Championship.

Felipe Nasr finished fifteenth in the second Sauber after making a late race pass on Valtteri Bottas, with the second Williams driver enduring a tough afternoon that started with a first lap pit stop with a puncture after clashing with Nico Hülkenberg.

Unfortunately for Hülkenberg, his seventh place on the grid led to nothing as a dual collision with both Vettel and Bottas at turn one on lap one meant an early retirement with a damaged suspension. The stewards looked into the incident but decided no action was warranted.

Bottas finished just ahead of Pascal Wehrlein in the leading Manor, while his team-mate Esteban Ocon was final finisher in eighteenth.

As well as Hülkenberg, Verstappen and Raikkonen, Esteban Gutierrez retired from the race. The Mexican ran as high as tenth in the early stages but dropped down the order before retiring in the pits with yet another braking issue for the Haas F1 Team.

But no one was in Hamilton’s league, with the Briton making it four victories at the Circuit of the Americas in five years, and showed to Rosberg that the championship battle isn’t over…

Circuit of the Americas Race Result

144Lewis HamiltonGBRMercedes1:38:12.61825
26Nico RosbergGERMercedes+4.52018
33Daniel RicciardoAUSRed Bull-Tag Heuer+19.69215
45Sebastian VettelGERFerrari+43.13412
514Fernando AlonsoESPMcLaren-Honda+1:33.95310
655Carlos Sainz JrESPToro Rosso-Renault+1:36.1248
719Felipe MassaBRZWilliams-Mercedes+1 Lap6
811Sergio PerezMEXForce India-Mercedes+1 Lap4
922Jenson ButtonGBRMcLaren-Honda+1 Lap2
108Romain GrosjeanFRAHaas-Ferrari+1 Lap1
1120Kevin MagnussenDENRenault+1 Lap
1226Daniil KvyatRUSToro Rosso-Renault+1 Lap
1330Jolyon PalmerGBRRenault+1 Lap
149Marcus EricssonSWESauber-Ferrari+1 Lap
1512Felipe NasrBRZSauber-Ferrari+1 Lap
1677Valtteri BottasFINWilliams-Mercedes+1 Lap
1794Pascal WehrleinGERManor-Mercedes+1 Lap
1831Esteban OconFRAManor-Mercedes+2 Laps
RET7Kimi RaikkonenFINFerrariRetired
RET33Max VerstappenNEDRed Bull-Tag HeuerRetired
RET21Esteban GutierrezMEXHaas-FerrariRetired
RET27Nico HulkenbergGERForce India-MercedesRetired

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