Circuit of the Americas (COTA) can now add another knotch in its young racing history belt. Running just its fourth Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, the relatively new track has now crowned a World Drivers’ Champion in Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes. On Sunday, October 25, Hamilton picked up his third world championship as a Formula 1 driver, his second consecutive. He took the victory despite a rainy weekend that affected free practices, qualifying, support races for the grand prix, and the race itself.
Hamilton won the U.S. Grand Prix, putting him over the top in points for the 2015 season championship. According to Formula 1, he crossed the line with 327 points and three races left in the season. Finishing second on Sunday was his teammate, Nico Rosberg of Germany. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished third. Rosberg has 247 points after that race, putting him still third in overall points behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel who has 251.
The remaining finishers went this way, according to Formula 1: 4th: Max Verstappen (Toro Rosso); 5th: Sergio Perez (Force India); 6th: Jenson Button (McLaren); 7th: Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso); 8th: Pastor Maldonado (Lotus); 9th: Filipe Nasr (Sauber); 10th: Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull); 11th: Fernando Alonso (McLaren); and 12th: Alexander Rossi (Manor-Marussia). All others — Kvyat, Hulkenberg, Ericsson, Raikkonen, Massa, Grosjean, Bottas, and Stevens did not finish the race.
According to Formula 1, the fastest lap in the U.S. Grand Prix was driven by Nico Rosberg on lap 49 with a top speed of 197.154 kph (122.506 mph). Time for the lap was 1:40.666s.
Rain affected the entire weekend, the first time rain struck the track for the USGP in COTA’s short four-year history. Friday’s second practice session was cancelled due to heavy rain and lightning in the area. Saturday’s qualifying session was postponed to Sunday morning because of poor weather. Even when qualifying did take place Sunday morning, Q3 was cancelled due to deteriorating wet and slippery conditions on the track.
As it turned out, the rain mostly stopped by race time on Sunday. While the track was still wet, the heavy downpours had dissipated. Fans returned to the grandstands and the grassy observing areas in time to see a new world champion hold his trophy high and use it as a mega-cup for celebratory champagne. Fellow Brit Sir Elton John, who performed a concert that night after the race, conducted the podium interviews.
“I can’t really find the right words right this second to tell you how amazing this feels,” Hamilton said on the podium. After thanking the fans for enduring the bad weather, he acknowledged those who helped him reach his goal.
“I couldn’t have done it without this team who have empowered me for the last three years and really taken me on board and really helped nurture me with the car and just faultless,” he said. “I love you guys, thank you so much for everything you do for me. And all the guys back at home. And then, my family who are watching. I love you all. And team LH – still I rise.”
Among the many highlights of a diverse race that saw the lead change several times was the result of the first American driver in eight years to compete in a United States Grand Prix. In only his third time on the F1 grid, Alexander Rossi not only beat his teammate Will Stevens, but he also placed twelfth in wet conditions, and he was also, according to F1, the last racer to finish the race that day in a field where eight other competitors retired. The Manor-Marussia team got into the spirit for the American fans at COTA by painting a much-appreciated American flag prominently on the side of their cars for the race.
Even though both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ championships have now been decided — Hamilton’s team Mercedes received the constructors’ crown earlier in the season — Formula 1 still has three races left on the calendar. Next, they travel to Mexico City for the first Mexican Grand Prix since 1986. That race takes place November 1. The last two races are the Brazilian Grand Prix on November 15 and the final contest in Abu Dhabi on November 29.