With a typhoon on Saturday, qualifying took place on Sunday morning creating extra pressure on the teams and drivers to get it right in qualifying. Vettel took pole by a tenth over teammate Leclerc, as the two Mercedes lined up behind.
Both Red Bull’s set exactly the same lap time, 0.787secs off the pace, a hugely impressive performance from the Anglo-Thai on his first visit to Suzuka.
Ferrari’s race, however, was another story, Bottas jumped into the lead as both Vettel and Leclerc made poor starts. That put him into control where he remained for the rest of the race.
The Italian teams’ problems started even before the start, the Ferrari rolled before the start, although an investigation subsequently did not invoke a penalty, the issue cost the polesitter crucial momentum. That then allowed the Mercedes into the lead as they bunched up into Turn Two, when Leclerc ran wide.
The Monacan, then ran into Verstappen, breaking his own front wing. Leclerc continued for two laps in third place, irritating Hamilton as the Ferrari’s damaged wing showered the chasing Mercedes with sparks and then debris, which broke Hamilton’s right-side wing mirror.
While Leclerc was awarded a five-second penalty for the Verstappen collision and Ferrari a €5,000 fine for the team not calling him sooner in for his damaged front wing. Albon lost out to both Ferrari’s at the start but used a two-stop strategy to finish fourth.
McLaren should have had a double point finish, but Lando Norris was caught in the debris of the collision of Verstappen Leclerc forcing him into an extra stop, dropping him to thirteenth.
But the win and second place for Mercedes was enough for the team to wrap up the constructors, as well as putting Hamilton on the brink of his sixth driver’s title.
Drivers – 1) Hamilton 338, 2) Bottas 274, 3) Leclerc 223
Constructors – 1) Mercedes 612, 2) Ferrari 435, 3) Red Bull 323
Verstappen secured his maiden pole in Mexico, going a quarter of a second faster than Leclerc. The session was brought to a premature end after Bottas crashed out as he went through the Peltrada. The crash also impacted the laps of Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton, who were behind Bottas on track and finished the session third and fourth after backing off.
Hamilton took victory in a very interesting strategic race between himself and Vettel. The driver pulled off a lengthy stint to finish over a second and a half over the Ferrari but failed to score the fourteen points he needed to beat teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton recovered from an early setback, as Verstappen challenged him to retake the lead. He then suffered an oversteer moment at Turn Two and Three saw him go onto the grass and lose position to Verstappen, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz and Alex Albon.
Sainz got passed the Mercedes on lap four and remained in fourth for the remainder of his stint, he ran long but ultimately had to settle for thirteenth after switching to a two-stop strategy. Verstappen collision saw Hamilton take Victory ahead of Vettel.
late contact between Kvyat and Hulkenberg saw the stewards award him a ten-second penalty. The Toro Rosso pushed the German into the wall and saw him break his rear wing.
McLaren’s race became an utter disaster, the British team looked on course for another best of the rest finish, but Carlos Sainz hopes faded with a two-stop strategy which left him thirteenth. Lando Norris was forced to retire after a tyre failed to attach properly.
Hamilton was looking certain to seal his title in Austin, should he finish eighth or higher he would be the only six times champion in the history of the sport.
Drivers – 1) Hamilton 363, 2) Bottas 289, 3) Leclerc 236
Constructors – 1) Mercedes 652, 2) Ferrari 466, 3) Red Bull 341
Bottas took pole going a hundredth faster than Vettel, that could be key as he needed a win to keep his championship alive and ensure that his teammate Lewis Hamilton drops out of the points. Vettel led the top four of Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, who were covered by just over a tenth.
Hamilton was forced to abandon his final run, after losing time in the second sector, meaning he ended up fifth and two tenths down. Magnussen was the highest place Haas going twelfth fastest for the teams home race. He was a hundred ahead of the Toro Rosso of Kvyat.
Bottas made a brilliant start to hold the lead from a charging Verstappen, who passed Vettel. Hamilton played it safe avoiding drama into the first corner and dropped to fifth. The champion-elect ran a very long opening stint allowing him to deep into the race.
Hamilton slowly started to build pressure on Verstappen, who had picked up minor front wing damage at the first corner. He knew that the victory wasn’t his but still fought the Dutchman as hard as ever and knew he could have yielded position and still won the title, too easy for him.
Hamilton did get pass Verstappen, finishing the race in second and that was enough for him to be world champion for the sixth time.
Albon recovered from damage on the opening lap with Carlos Sainz, the Red Bull was squeezed between Leclerc and the McLaren. The British Thai driver was forced to recover from the back, charged back through with two strong stints.
Ricciardo finished sixth for Renault after overhauling the two McLarens. Lando Norris had a later second stop that allowed him to pick off his midfield rivals and clinch seventh, ahead of his teammate Carlos Sainz.
Drivers – 1) Hamilton 381, 2) Bottas 314, 3) Leclerc 249
Constructors – 1) Mercedes 695, 2) Ferrari 476, 3) Red Bull 366
Mercedes had done it again; their dominance of the hybrid era had delivered them both the drivers and constructors. Hamilton’s now was the second most successful driver in the history of F1.