Although Scuderia-Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel took the early lead, it was Mercedes-AMG Petronas’ Lewis Hamilton who bagged the win at the 2017 Formula 1 Austin Grand Prix. Hamilton only needs 9 points in the next race to be crowned this year’s champion.
As the race began, Vettel stole the lead from Hamilton before the 1st turn and went on to build a 1.3 second advantage. It was the dream start for the German who desperately needed to win this race to keep his title hopes alive.
On the 6th lap, however, Hamilton was quicker on the back-straight and reclaimed the lead. Vettel tried to mount a comeback when the Briton entered the pits on the 20th lap, but failed thanks to a clean, smooth pit stop by Mercedes. Hamilton would cross the line 10 seconds ahead of Vettel, who had no choice but to settle for 2nd.
The other Scuderia-Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen bagged a controversial 3rd place. Initially, the last spot of the podium was awarded to Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, but he exceeded track limits while overtaking Raikkonen. As a result, Verstappen was handed with a 5-second time penalty, demoting him back to 4th. If there’s any consolation, he was voted by the fans as ‘driver-of-the-day’ for charging back from 16th due to a grid penalty for using his 6th engine and 6th MGU-H this season to a 4th place finish.
His Red Bull Racing teammate Daniel Ricciardo also had bad luck. After a brilliant battle with the other Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas, Ricciardo had to stop his car at turn 15 of the 16th lap due to an engine failure. As for Bottas, he had a quiet race after that to finish 5th.
Force India’s Esteban Ocon and Renault’s Carlos Sainz were locked in a battle for 6th place. Ocon managed to defend well to claim 6th, while Sainz, who just made his debut for Renault, finished an impressive 7th.
The other driver in pink, Force India’s Sergio Perez, crossed the line in 8th, while Williams’ Felipe Massa completed the race in 9th. Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kyvat, who made his return after being replaced by Pierre Gasly in the previous race, rounded up the top 10.
Williams rookie Lance Stroll finished 11th, just ahead of McLaren-Honda’s Stoffel Vandoorne in 12th. Meanwhile, Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley completed his debut race in 13th as Haas’ Romain Grosjean reached the finish line in 14th. Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen were the last drivers to finish the race in 15th and 16th, respectively.
Renault’s Nico Hulkenburg was the 1st casualty of the Austin Grand Prix due to a loss of oil pressure in his car. Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein ended his race in the pits after a 1st lap collision with Magnussen, while McLaren-Honda’s Fernando Alonso retired due to an engine failure.
With the Austin Grand Prix now in the bag, Hamilton leads Vettel in the driver’s championship by 66 points. All Hamilton needs to do is to finish 5th place or higher to secure the title. Meanwhile, Mercedes-AMG Petronas have been crowned as the constructor’s champion with 3 races to go, 147 points clear of Scuderia-Ferrari.
The next race of the 2017 Formula 1 season will be at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico on October 29, 2017. Will Hamilton seal the deal or can Vettel extend the battle?