AUSTIN -- Lewis Hamilton wrapped up his sixth Formula One championship after finishing second behind title rival Valtteri Bottas at the U.S. Grand Prix.
Hamilton only needed to finish eighth to seal the title and led for much of the second half of the race, only to be caught by his Mercedes teammate in the closing stages. It didn't matter in the grand scheme of things, with the result helping him move to within one championship victory of Michael Schumacher's all-time record.
"Still we rise, guys," a jubilant Hamilton told the team after the race, echoing the motivational message he carries on his race helmet and has tattooed on his back.
He added: "What an incredible weekend guys, thank-you so much. I can't believe it! I really can't believe it."
Given the small amount of points he needed to clinch the title, Hamilton would have been forgiven for playing it safe at Turn 1 for fear of getting caught up in a midfield squabble behind him. The Mercedes driver did not take that approach and managed to pass both Ferrari's on the opening lap -- he dispatched Charles Leclerc at Turn 1 before turning in a resounding move on Sebastian Vettel at Turn 9.
In a bid to win the race, Hamilton moved on to an alternate strategy to Bottas and Red Bull's Max Verstappen -- while that pair opted to stop twice, Hamilton chose a one-stop strategy which required tyre management at the end of both stints. It put him in the running for victory but wasn't quite quick enough, and in the end Bottas made the most of his fresher tyres and caught his teammate four laps from the finish. Verstappen also closed in on Hamilton but never got close enough in the final two laps.
Verstapen rounded off the podium for Red Bull ahead of Charles Leclerc, as Ferrari struggled to continue the strong form it has shown since the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of August. Ferrari had started second and third behind Bottas, but the race quickly unraveled. Vettel's race ended prematurely after a right-rear suspension failure.
Alexander Albon finished fifth after an impressive recovery drive. The Thai driver was forced into an early wing change after getting caught up in drama at the start but was able to fight back through the field in a performance which will have only strengthened his case to remain Verstappen's teammate in 2020.
In the battle for best of the rest honours Daniel Ricciardo turned in a spectacular drive to beat McLaren pair Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz after a race-long battle for sixth position. Nico Hulkenberg finished ninth in the other Renault, while Sergio Perez rounded out the points-paying positions in 10th.
Kimi Raikkonen, the winner of the 2018 U.S. Grand Prix, finished 11th ahead of Daniil Kvyat, who was hit with a five-second time penalty as the race finished for the second race in a row. Kvyat made contact with Perez while they fought for 10th position in the closing stages.
Lance Stroll, Antonio Giovinazzi and Romain Grosjean were the other drivers to finish the race.
Kevin Magnussen's Haas suffered a brake failure with a handful of laps remaining, while Robert Kubica joined Vettel as an early retirement in the pit-lane.
More to follow...