Mercedes driver overhauls team-mate Nico Rosberg to take his third win in the United States in stunning fashion
Happy days: Lewis Hamilton took his 10th victory of the season Photo: ACTION IMAGES
Lewis Hamilton delivered a typically swashbuckling performance in this Texas hoedown, overhauling Nico Rosberg to take his third win in the United States and an enormous leap towards a second drivers’ championship. No wonder he is thinking about making this place home.
Stevenage-born Hamilton assumed the role of the all-American hero here, hurrying and hassling Rosberg until he made a decisive move just before half-distance. From then on, Hamilton was out on his own in the Lone Star State.
With a 24-point lead over Rosberg after five wins in a row, it seems that only double points in Abu Dhabi or a bout of unreliability can stop Hamilton now. This triumph, the 32nd of his career, took him beyond Nigel Mansell to give him the most grand-prix victories of any British driver. Ten of those have come in this season alone.
The 29-year-old had spoken earlier in the week of eventually settling here to raise a family with Nicole Scherzinger, his pop-star girlfriend. Austin, a venue where he was won twice in three years, would be more than happy to have the Hamiltons.
On a day when Force India confirmed only 90 minutes before the race that they would postpone a spectacular boycott, Hamilton cruised to victory in front of Rosberg and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
That Sauber and Lotus also decided against a walkout was no surprise. Adrian Sutil lined up ninth for the former team while Pastor Maldonado joined him in his Lotus on the fifth row; the highest both have started all season.
After giving the rebellious teams sufficient assurances to dissuade them from a disastrous walkout, Bernie Ecclestone joined Keanu Reeves and Pamela Anderson to make an unlikely threesome on the grid for a thundering rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner.
The stage was set for Hamilton to add another chapter to his American dream. For Rosberg, the pole sitter, it was a case of proving himself in wheel-to-wheel racing with his fierce rival, something he has failed to do all season.
Rosberg had the better getaway, while Hamilton tried a small nibble down the inside. Discretion prevailed then, but not elsewhere from Sergio Pérez. The Force India driver took out, of all cars, a Sauber when the Mexican hit Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari with ill-advised lunge at turn 15 before T-boning Sutil. It was hardly a show of unity. In front of about 10,000 Mexican fans, Pérez brought out the safety car.
At the end of the fourth lap, Rosberg meticulously backed the pack up before making his getaway and, in the early exchanges, seemed to have the upper hand.
Niki Lauda, the three-time champion and Mercedes F1 chairman, stressed the importance for Rosberg of holding his team-mate off. But it was not long before Hamilton was breathing down his neck.
The sort of ding-dong duel we have seen repeatedly this season was under way. Rosberg would eke out a few precious metres before Hamilton reeled him back in.
On lap 13, Rosberg showed the first signs of trouble. His tyres were already past their sell-by date. Two laps later, the German was in for his stop. It took three seconds. He led Hamilton by the same gap once he had been for his stop a lap later.
While Hamilton set about clawing himself back into contention, Force India’s race was done by lap 18, as Nico Hulkenberg pulled over. They may as well have boycotted the race after all. Sebastian Vettel, starting from the pit lane after an engine change, was also struggling but eventually clawed his way to seventh.
The Hamilton-Rosberg contest was not the only tussle here. Jenson Button has looked resigned to losing his seat at the end of the year, but the 34-year-old was still battling for every place. Running seventh, he was especially unwilling to allow Fernando Alonso – the driver expected to take his place at McLaren – through without a fight. On lap 24, Alonso made a move. The Spaniard was not the only one.
After a succession of searingly fast laps, all of a sudden Hamilton was within striking distance of Rosberg. With the rear-wing flap on his Mercedes wide open, Hamilton was gaining all the way down the long back straight. Seemingly from nowhere, the Briton made an enormous lunge heading into the hairpin. It caught Rosberg unaware, forcing the German wide and into second place.
This was yet another brave move from Hamilton, the sort we have become accustomed to this year. Rosberg, meanwhile, had to suffer the misery of being beaten in close combat once again. Lauda may be proven right in saying it was crucial for Rosberg to win this fight.
Hamilton stopped for the final time on lap 33, Rosberg following him in the next time around. The rest was a formality. It was not hard to imagine a few “yeehaws” as Hamilton crossed the line.
SourceDaniel Johnson, F1 Correspondent, Austin, http://www.telegraph.co.uk , 18th November, 2014