Text: Marcus De Guzman / Photos: Mercedes-Benz AMG Petronas, FIA | posted October 24, 2016 10:53
Lewis Hamilton secures 50th career victory with Circuit of the Americas win
Reigning champion Lewis Hamilton sailed all the way to the finish line at the recent Formula 1 US Grand Prix. From start to finish, the British racing driver held the top spot while the rest of the drivers duked it out at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.
Off the line, Hamilton was ahead of the pack while his fellow teammate Nico Rosberg had to contend with Red Bull Racing duo Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen. Not far behind was the Iceman from Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen who was able to overtake Verstappen for fourth place.
There was immediate contact at the beginning of the race when Force India's Nico Hulkenberg was pinched by Ferrari's Sebastien Vettel and Willaims' Valterri Bottas in Turn 1. Hulkenberg suffered heavy damage from the incident due to a damaged track rod and punctured tires.
Vettel then aimed to overtake Verstappen for fifth but was unable to do so, allowing the young Red Bull Racing driver to maintain his pace. The young gun however had to pit early on lap 10 despite having soft tires. With a new set of soft tires, he was able to regain fourth place from Raikkonen and had his sights set for Rosberg who was at third place.
Disaster struck the young Red Bull Racing driver on lap 27 however when his pit crew was not yet ready for him. He dropped to seventh place, just behind Vettel, Raikkonen and Williams' Felipe Massa. The final nail to Verstappen's US Grand Prix race was when his car suffered technical problems. He had to pull out of the track in lap 31, which called for a virtual safety car (VSC).
The VSC played right into Hamilton's podium lead as he had to hit the pit lane for a fresh set of medium tires. Rosberg also had the same idea and replaced his old set for medium tires. Ricciardo was not pleased with the VSC however as it resulted in him losing second place.
In the end, Hamilton took the checquered flag for his 50th career victory while Rosberg finished in second. Ricciardo ended the race in third while Vettel finished fourth despite having rear wing problems which caused the car to wobble in Turns 3, 4 and 5.
Fifth place was a battle between Massa, Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz and McLaren-Honda's Fernando Alonso. Ultimately, Alonso was able to grab fifth while Sainz settled for sixth. At seventh place was Massa while sitting at eighth was Force India's Sergio Perez. Completing the top ten finishers were McLaren-Honda's Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean from Haas.
Still leading the driver standings is Nico Rosberg with 331 points. Several points behind is fellow teammate Lewis Hamilton with 305 points. Meanwhile Daniel Ricciardo is at third with 227 points. Trailing behind the Red Bull Racing driver were Ferrari duo Sebastien Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen with 177 and 170 points respectively.
“I’m delighted to claim my 50th career victory today, it’s been a long time coming, but most importantly it was great to have a solid race weekend. This race has always gone extremely well for me, but still, it was a massive relief when I crossed the line given my reliability issues in recent rounds. I was 100% clear on my start and I knew it was going to turn out that way. It was a nice feeling, especially after so many ups and downs, and I was able to control the race from there,” said Hamilton.