AUSTIN, Texas – Valtteri Bottas chased down his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton in the waining laps to win Sunday’s United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas.
Despite failing to win Sunday’s race, Hamilton’s runner-up result was more than enough for Hamilton to claim his sixth Formula One world championship.
“This is overwhelming if I’m very honest,” Hamilton said moments after climbing from his car.
The battle for the win throughout the day came down to the Mercedes pair, with Bottas starting from the pole while Hamilton started from fifth after a disappointing qualifying effort on Saturday.
The pair were on two different pit strategies, with Hamilton opting for a one-stop strategy while Bottas went for a two-stop strategy. Bottas made his second stop of the day on the 36th lap, elevating Hamilton to the point by roughly 10 seconds after Bottas exited the pit area in second.
Utilizing the medium tires, Bottas quickly and efficiently cut the gap to Hamilton lap after lap and with 10 laps left he was within striking distance of his British teammate. By lap 49 the gap was only 1.5 seconds and Bottas was still closing.
On lap 51 of the 56-lap contest Bottas got a run on Hamilton in the DRS zone down the long straightaway between turns 11 and 12. Hamilton blocked the inside, forcing Bottas to take the long way around into the turn.
The move didn’t work and Bottas was forced to get back in line behind Hamilton, but Bottas was now right behind Hamilton and primed for another attack.
On the next lap Bottas took another shot in the DRS zone between turns 11 and 12. This time Bottas got his run much earlier and went to Hamilton’s inside, easily clearing his teammate before they made it to turn 12 to take the lead.
Once out front Bottas checked out in a hurry, taking the checkered flag more than four seconds ahead of Hamilton to earn his career-best fourth victory of the Formula One season.
“It’s a nice win. Feels good,” Bottas said. “We had a strong pace and we’re very, very happy about the win. Basically (it was) the only I could really focus on and do this weekend in terms of the championship. It was not enough and Lewis got the title.
“I wasn’t quite sure which strategy was going to end be ending up the better one. My pace was good, so I could make that two-stop happen, which wasn’t planned initially.”
Bottas entered the race weekend with a slim chance at winning the Formula One title, but Hamilton’s performance prevented that from happening.
“A big congrats to him,” Bottas said. “I personally failed at my task this year, but there is always next year. He deserves it, he had a strong season.”
Hamilton finished second, holding off a fast-closing Max Verstappen to claim the second step on the podium as well as his third-straight Formula One title. Hamilton is now one championship away from tying all-time Formula One championship leader Michael Schumacher, who won seven championships during his career.
“My dad told me when I was like 6 or 7 years old never to give up. That’s kind of the family motto,” Hamilton said. “I was pushing as hard as I could. I was hopeful that I might be able to win today, but we didn’t have it in the tires unfortunately.”
Hamilton said despite having the championship locked up, he wants to keep pushing and chasing victories in the final two races of the year in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
“I’m ready for the next race. These next races we won’t let up, we’ll keep pushing,” Hamilton said.
Verstappen finished third to complete the podium. Charles Leclerc was fourth for Ferrari, while Alexander Albon overcame an opening lap mishap to finish fifth.