Lewis Hamilton claimed his sixth Formula One world title after finishing second at the United States Grand Prix as teammate Valtteri Bottas topped the podium.
Needing a top-eight finish to guarantee a third championship in a row, the Mercedes driver climbed from fifth on the grid to wrap up the championship with two races to spare.It is the Briton’s fifth win in six seasons and moves him second on the all-time list, clear of Juan Manuel Fangio and one behind Michael Schumacher. He has won 10 grands prix this year and sits 67 points clear of Bottas with a maximum 50 left to claim.Max Verstappen took third for Red Bull in his 100th grand prix to complete the podium at the Circuit of the Americas, while Sebastian Vettel endured a day to forget as he was forced into an early retirement. Hamilton made an excellent start and quickly climbed from fifth to third, with Ferrari duo Vettel and Charles Leclerc dropping two places each before the former was halted by a suspension failure.As drivers started to implement different pit-stop strategies, Hamilton — aiming to stop just once — found himself leading the way inside 20 laps.Indeed, he was the last of the frontrunners to pit and when he did, Hamilton emerged in third and safe in the knowledge his rivals would need to come in again.That left him in prime position again coming into the final third of the race, although Bottas was clocking a series of impressive lap times to underline his threat.The challenge then for Hamilton was to get the best out of deteriorating tires, just as he did to prevail in Mexico last time out.Ultimately that proved a bridge too far, Bottas capitalizing on his greater tire performance to overtake on lap 52 and take his fourth win of the campaign despite a strong defense from his fellow Mercedes driver.It was still Hamilton’s day, though, as he secured the title in the U.S. for the second time, having also done so in 2015.HAMILTON NOT JUST ALONG FOR THE RIDEGiven the relatively modest requirement of placing inside the top eight, Hamilton could have been forgiven for taking it easy.However, that is clearly not the 34-year-old driver’s style and he was there to race for the win, which would have been his seventh at this track.That desire to be first is a core strength of Hamilton’s and he will doubtless already be thinking about an assault on the 2020 world championship.Hamilton aggressively defended his lead in the closing laps but could not quite hold off the surging challenge of Bottas.He now has two races left to complete his most successful season — in terms of wins — having taken the checkered flag 11 times in 2014 and 2018.SEBASTIAN VET-HELLIt has been a frustrating season for Ferrari and four-time world champion Vettel, whose race was halted after only nine laps.The German appeared to suffer a suspension issue.Vettel had started second on the grid and will have fancied his chances of challenging for only a second race win of 2019.But he was soon looking at the back of Hamilton’s car after reporting damage within moments of the start.And his day only got worse, with an early retirement dealing huge damage to any hopes of outperforming teammate Leclerc. IN THE POINTS1. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +4.148secs3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +5.0024. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +52.2395. Alexander Albon (Red Bull) +78.0386. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) +90.3667. Lando Norris (McLaren) +90.7648. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) +1 lap9. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +1 lap10. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) +1 lapSTANDINGSDrivers1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 3812. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 314 (-67)3. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 249 (-132)4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 235 (-146)5. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 230 (-151)Constructors1. Mercedes 6952. Ferrari 479 (-216)3. Red Bull 366 (-329)4. McLaren 121 (-574)5. Renault 83 (-612)WHAT’S NEXT?Hamilton will take his pursuit of an 11th grand prix win of the season to Brazil, where he won last year.