For two decades from 1961 to 1980, seeing the Formula 1 World Driver’s Championship awarded in the United States was a common occurrence. After all, Watkins Glen International played host to the final round of the season, and many of the sport’s biggest names were able to stand atop the podium as both race winners and champions at the iconic New York track. But between the United States’ off-and-on presence in the series and race dates all the way up and down the calendar since then, seeing the same thing happen in the modern era isn’t quite as common.
That makes Lewis Hamilton’s result at Circuit of the Americas on Sunday particularly special. The Mercedes driver may have lost the battle to teammate Valtteri Bottas in the race itself, but he won the war, locking up his sixth F1 title with a runner-up finish at the Texas-based track.
Bottas’ hopes of stealing the championship away from his teammate were slim regardless, but the Finn did everything he could to prolong the fight for one more round. He qualified on pole alongside Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who looked to bring the team its second straight victory at COTA after Kimi Raikkonen’s popular triumph last year. Hamilton, meanwhile, would start fifth, behind both Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc.
Unfortunately, Vettel’s disappointing 2019 continued with a suspension issue after just seven laps; he’s now fallen to fifth in the standings, his worst mark since 2014, his final year with Red Bull where he went winless. Likewise, Raikkonen electrified the fans by passing five cars on the start from 17th on the grid, but he would come home 11th, just one place shy of scoring a point for Alfa Romeo.
Hamilton, meanwhile, worked a one-stop strategy to get past both Verstappen and Leclerc for good, even as the latter continued his impressive debut campaign for Ferrari by setting a track lap record during the race. Hamilton had to hold off Verstappen for second, doing so by just under a second, while Bottas actually had to pass his teammate on track even while equipped with a tire advantage at the time. The win was his fourth of the season, and he’ll set career bests for both wins and points in 2019.
Just two rounds remain in the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship, as the series heads to Brazil on November 17 and Abu Dhabi on December 1. While Hamilton and Bottas are secure in first and second, the three-way battle for third between Leclerc, Verstappen, and Vettel sees the group separated by just 19 points.