Valtteri Bottas took victory in the United States Grand Prix but second place for Lewis Hamilton was enough to give him his sixth drivers’ championship.
With Bottas winning, Hamilton only needed to finish in the top eight to guarantee the title, but an audacious one-stop strategy attempt almost enabled the Briton take a remarkable victory. In the end Bottas passed him with five laps remaining after the pair went wheel-to-wheel, and Hamilton then held off Max Verstappen in the final laps to make it a Mercedes one-two and move clear of Juan Manuel Fangio to sit one title behind Michael Schumacher’s record.
Hamilton won the title in style having started from fifth place, overtaking Sebastian Vettel with a beautiful move around the outside of Turn 8 on the opening lap. Vettel was struggling in the opening laps before a right rear suspension failure at Turn 9 ended his race early, while teammate Charles Leclerc was a distant fourth on a poor day for Ferrari.
Bottas and Verstappen ran close together in the opening stint and when Hamilton closed in on the Red Bull, Verstappen pit earlier and committed to a two-stop strategy. Bottas responded a lap later and pulled out a good out lap to withstand pressure from Verstappen, while Hamilton ran long and only pit for hard tires once Bottas retook the lead from him.
Mercedes told Hamilton it was touch and go whether the tires would hold on until the end of the race, but he managed his pace well to put himself in contention.
Verstappen pitted for a second time on Lap 34 for medium tires with Bottas again stopping a lap later, giving them just over 20 laps to chase down Hamilton. The leader used traffic well to keep the gap around five seconds to Bottas for a while before the Finn closed in, trying to pass around the outside of Turn 12 with six laps remaining and being pushed wide before getting the move done a lap later using DRS into the same corner.
Hamilton then had to turn his attentions to Verstappen, who had closed in as the front two battled, but a yellow flag after Kevin Magnussen suffered an apparent brake failure at Turn 12 ensured Verstappen couldn’t attack at the best overtaking spot for the final two laps.
An emotional Hamilton pulled into a special painted parking space under the podium and stood on the car with the Union Jack flag draped behind him to celebrate a sixth world championship, five of which have come with Mercedes including the last three in a row.
Leclerc finished over 50 seconds behind the race winner as Ferrari showed no pace during the race, although his own two-stop strategy saw him fit soft tires for the final stint and secure the extra point for the fastest lap.
Alex Albon was involved in light contact with Carlos Sainz on the exit of Turn 1 at the start of the race and was sent airborne, necessitating a first lap pit stop and a three-stop strategy, pulling off a strong recovery drive to finish fifth.
Daniel Ricciardo, sporting a special Texas Longhorns race helmet, delighted the “home” crowd with sixth as he made a one-stop strategy work after a race-long battle with Lando Norris. Ricciardo passed Norris into Turn 12 on lap 7 and the pair ran closely before Norris pit for a second time with 15 laps to go and suffered a slow right front change. He still charged though the field but fell just 0.3s short of Ricciardo at the flag.
Despite the contact with Albon, Sainz ensured solid points for McLaren with eighth place behind his teammate, as Nico Hulkenberg took ninth and Sergio Perez 10th after a chaotic final lap. Perez started from the pit lane and looked to have secured a point before a collision with Daniil Kvyat on the final lap dropped him to 11th, but Kvyat was then handed a five-second time penalty — the second penalty he has received for final lap contact in two weekends — to be demoted from 10th to 12th.
It was a frustrating end to the race for Toro Rosso as Pierre Gasly also dropped out of the points with a late retirement and was classified 16th, with Magnussen, Robert Kubica and Vettel the other retirees.