Hamilton Takes Third F1 Title With Texas Triumph at COTA
Defending Formula One World Drivers’ Champion Lewis Hamilton, crossed the finish line 2.8 seconds ahead of MERCEDES AMG PATRONUS teammate Nico Rosberg this afternoon to win both the 2015 United States Grand Prix and the 2015 World Drivers’ Championship at Circuit of The Americas on Sunday – his third world title.
Hamilton qualified second, but nosed out Rosberg at the top of Turn 1, as both drivers headed to the high – and dry – side of the turn.
“I wasn’t intentionally trying to run my team mate off the track,” said Hamilton after the race. “During practice we both realized that the back side of the Turn 1 was high and dry, which would give the best grip, heading into the downhill turns. I felt it was important to take advantage of that, given the fact the track was still very wet, and we were all starting out on wet weather tires.
The maneuver caused Rosberg to drop to fourth, behind the two Red Bull cars of Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo. Hamilton would maintain his lead for the first 14 laps, at which point he was overtaken by Ricciardo. The Australian took advantage of the wet conditions to maintain an early lead over Hamilton, as his car’s aerodynamics help keep him competitive on the web track during the early laps in the race. He was the only person not named Hamilton or Rosberg to lead the race.
However, on Lap 22 he surrendered the top spot on to Rosberg, who had recovered his composure and worked his way back to the front of the pack.
“As the track dried and everyone switched from rain tires over to slicks, my car just didn’t have the speed to keep up with the faster Silver Arrows,” admitted Ricciardo. “Me and team mate Kvyat just kept falling further back. Unfortunately his day ended with the most dramatic crash of the day, as he put his car into the wall at speed on lap 43, after losing the rear end and spinning at Turn 19. The incident brought out the safety car for the second time in the afternoon. I was fortunate to hang tough and get the final point, finishing tenth,” he added.
Hamilton re-took the race lead when Rosberg stopped to pit and change tires on Lap 38. Rosberg regained the top spot during Hamilton’s pit stop six laps later. But Hamilton was able to slip by Rosberg when he mysteriously slid while cornering on lap 48, and cruised the last eight laps to his third world championship.
The surprise presenter at the trophy ceremony after the race was none other than fellow Britisher, and the evening’s musical performer, Sir Elton John.
Many expected the rain and wet track to take its toll on drivers and cars. While there certainly was a good deal of attrition during the race, with two virtual yellows and two safety-car yellows, the rain was not primarily to blame. Two cars crashed, but six others failed to finish, mostly due to mechanical problems.
Earlier, on lap 37, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg collided with Ricciardo in a failed attempt to pass him, resulting in terminal suspension damage for the German driver and the posting of the second Virtual Safety Car period of the day. The first “actual” safety car yellow was prompted when Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber lost power and stopped dear on lap 27.
Next, Kimi Raikkonen was forced to retire when an overheating problem took out his brakes, which were damaged after he hit the wall at Turn 7, earlier in the race. The Finn pitted for a new nose at the time and rejoined the race before the brakes brought him day to a permanent halt.
Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas were both forced out with technical problem. Unfortunately for Williams, this was the team’s first double DNF since 2012 in Brazil. Lotus’s Romain Grosjean and Marussia’s Will Stevens completed the list of driver who retired early.
In fact, with the field whittled down to just 12 cars, American rookie Alexander Rossi came within a whisker of scoring a point with his Manor Marussia car in just his third F1 race. Instead he finished 12th, some 20 seconds behind the 11th place finisher, Fernando Alonzo in his McLaren Honda.
Perhaps the most impressive drive of the day was turned in by the third man on the podium, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Despite qualifying fifth, the German was forced back to the 14th spot on the grid, thanks to a 10-spot penalty he and team mate Kimi Raikkonen were both handed for installing a fifth engine on their cars prior to the race. But by Lap 5, he had clawed his way back up to sixth place, nearly the same fifth-place spot for which he’d qualified. Vettel moved up to third on lap 34, dropped back briefly, then regained his third-place position on lap 47, allowing him to claim a trophy.
Several other drivers also drove impressive races, including Force India’s Sergio Perez, Sauber’s Felipe Nasr, and Toro Rosso rookies Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen.
Verstappen, who qualified eighth, finished fourth – a feat he duplicated at the Hungarian Grand Prix last summer. The 12 points he earned on the day help him leap-frog past veteran Lotus driver Romain Grosjean into 10th place in the driver points standing.
Perez qualified fifth and beat off multiple challengers to finish fifth. Sixth place was captured by McLaren Honda’s wiley veteran Jenson Button, who qualified back in 12th place. The seventh spot was claimed by Sainz, who jumped an impressive 13 places, up from dead last. Sauber’s Nasr, who qualified 16th, ended up finishing in the ninth spot.
The only two finishers in the field not scoring points on the day were McLaren’s Fernando Alzono, and American rookie, Rossi.
“I’m just overwhelmed at the moment. It’s difficult really to find the words … it’s just crazy to think that I’m now a three-time Formula One champion. I owe it all to my dad, and to my family who supported me all these years and sacrificed so much for me to be here. Today there were so many times I thought I’d lost the race. I’d fallen back and then Nico pitted under the safety car and he was really quick at one stage. But I never for one second believed that I couldn’t win, so I continued to push and push … so to win today is a very humbling experience, especially to equal my racing hero, Ayrton Senna, who meant so much to me as a young driver, and still does today. So yes, I feel truly blessed today.”
“I can’t really explain what happened to me out there today. I was leading the race and I just got my wheels pinned. That’s never happened to me before – ever! Not even in testing or racing. I’ve never experienced anything like that and really can’t explain it – it’s unbelievable. I just need to look into it and see what happened with the car. It was really, really tough out there at the time to lose the lead and lose the win. At the time I was feeling really good about the race and was confident I could win. But suddenly it all went wrong.
“This is Lewis’ day – congratulations to him. He deserves to win the championship. Overall, I think we did fairly well today. We had a very, very good opening few laps and after that we managed to do all the right things, and finished third. You can’t ask for much more if you start from P14. Maybe I could have taken more risks and tried to overtake Nico, but it was not possible. It is a shame, but let’s not forget where we started this year. Today was another great race, a great recovery and the car was fantastic. A good first lap helped a lot and after that we had the pace, especially changing to the dry tires in mixed conditions. We seemed to fly for a few laps, a couple of seconds quicker than everybody else. Maybe without the last safety car we could have won the race. All in all, it was a difficult race and I thought we managed it very well. I can only say “grazie tante” to everybody on track and at the factory. So on the one hand we are happy, but it is not a nice feeling when you know you are out of the championship fight. However, we continue to improve and I believe this gives us a boost for next year.”
F1 RACE FAST FACTS:
- By winning the 2015 United States Grand Prix Lewis Hamilton earned his 10th win of the season and the 43rd of his Formula One career, en route to nailing down his third World Drivers’ Championship .
- Hamilton became the 10th driver to win three or more titles and the only British driver to successfully defend his crown after winning a championship.
- Hamilton also became the first driver to claim 10 or more victories in consecutive seasons
- Rosberg’s second-place was resulted in his twelfth podium of the season and 38th of his Formula One career
- The 1-2 finish by Hamilton and Rosberg result marks the 25th time the Silver Arrows cars have finished in top two spots in a Formula One race, and the 50th for Mercedes-Benz power.