Hamilton wins the US Grand Prix and keeps title hopes alive
Lewis Hamilton won the US Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas for the third time in a row and kept his title chances alive. The reigning champion scored his 7th victory in 2016 and reduced the gap in the Drivers’ Championship to his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg to 26 points, three races before the end of the season.
The start of the race was quite interesting. While Hamilton kept his lead, Daniel Ricciardo overtook Rosberg to take 2nd place while Max Verstappen dropped to the 5th, behind Kimi Raikkonen. There were small accidents in the middle of the grid after which Valtteri Bottas and Nico Hulkenberg had to pit early. The Force India driver soon was forced to retire.
Despite different tactical approaches, nothing has changed after the series of the first pit-stops. Hamilton was almost five seconds ahead of Ricciardo while Rosberg was put under the pressure by Verstappen in the battle for 3rd place.
After the second round of pit-stops, the situation slightly changed. Verstappen dropped to the 6th after went into the pit on his own and left pit-crew unprepared, so the Dutch teenager lost too much time and soon retired due to engine failure on lap 31.
The safety car was deployed for a while but Hamilton’s lead never was in doubt. Rosberg moved up behind his teammate while Ricciardo held the 3rd place at the moment. The Australian’s position was safe after Raikkonen retired right after the pit-stop. Interestingly, in that moment Carlos Sainz Jr held 5th position and both McLarens were in the points zone.
As the Mercedes’ drivers, as well Ricciardo and Vettel, were in the race of their own, the battle for the 5th place became the most interesting in the late stage of the race. Fernando Alonso overtook Felipe Massa with risky maneuver and started to chase Sainz and in the final lap the former champion he was in front of his younger compatriot.