PODIUM FINISH FOR MERCEDES-AMG PETRONAS MOTORSPORT IN THE US
It was a podium finish for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport driver Lewis Hamilton as he edges closer to a fifth FIA Formula OneTM World Drivers’ Championship, finishing behind the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing of Max Verstappen and the Scuderia Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, with Valtteri bringing his car home in P5.
Post-race, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport had a 66-point lead in the Constructors’ Championship over second-placed Ferrari.
Following the wet Friday, Saturday was the start of the dry sessions meaning that Quali and race sims had to all be done within the hour of FP3. Lewis took pole position on the Saturday over Sebastian Vettel by 0.066 seconds, as the two drivers battled it out over the course of their laps, with the Brit coming out on top. The German would take a three-place grid drop meaning that he started behind Valtteri for Sunday’s race.
Starting on the Super Soft tyres, Lewis made a good getaway from P1 on the grid although the fast-starting Scuderia Ferrari of Raikkonen started on the Ultra Soft tyres meaning that he had more grip off of the line and got the better of Lewis into Turn One. Valtteri maintained P3.
Vettel, Lewis’ title rival, was looking to make up for lost ground and set about taking on Daniel Ricciardo with the pair making contact. This sent the Scuderia Ferrari into a spin, dropping the German towards the back of the grid.
On Lap 9, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Ricciardo stopped with a power unit failure. To recover the car, the VSC had to be deployed on Lap 11. The major benefit that VSC brings is the pitstop is a lot shorter in comparison to race speed. Lewis was instructed by his Race Engineer to “Do the opposite to Raikkonen” this meant that Lewis would only lose a couple of places, dropping behind Valtteri who decided to stay out. Advantage Lewis or Kimi?
Once the VSC ended, Lewis closed the gap to Valtteri very quickly and due to championship circumstances, was let past to ensure that the Brit would take home as many points as possible. The championship leader now set about closing the gap to Kimi.
Lewis seized the lead of the race on Lap 21 as the Ferrari pitted for Soft compound tyres, a move which saw the Scuderia Ferrari make its only stop, in contrast to car #44 which was on a two-stop strategy. Running his own race, Valtteri came into the pits on Lap 23 also switching to the Soft tyres.
With Lewis’ tyres aging, it was clear he would have to make his second stop on Lap 38, to go to the end. As a result, he would have to overtake both Verstappen and Raikkonen to take back the lead. In the end, he ran out of laps to do so.
In P4, Valtteri’s Soft compound tyres were struggling compared with the faster, fresher tyres of the Scuderia Ferrari. It meant that he was soon caught by Vettel and despite fighting hard, Valtteri had no grip left and was overtaken on Lap 55.
At the finish, Valtteri ended crossing the line in P5 with Lewis taking the final podium place in P3.
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