Hamil­ton’s Austin power play

F1 Racing - - FINISHING STRAIGHT -

In which Lewis as­serted the supremacy of man and ma­chine to take the win and his third world ti­tle

Un­for­get­table: how else to de­scribe the 2015 US GP? His­toric Hamil­ton, now Bri­tain’s most suc­cess­ful driver, with 43 wins and a third world ti­tle; a breath­tak­ing race with three lead­ers; blink-and-you’ll-miss-it ac­tion from lights to ag; a week­end of me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal ex­tremes; and a vivid ex­po­si­tion of the ne line be­tween suc­cess and fail­ure in elite sport.

In the mid­dle stage of the race, the day seemed to be Nico Ros­berg’s. He had started from pole and looked set to win and ex­tend the ti­tle ght to Mex­ico. But mul­ti­ple Safety Car pe­ri­ods foiled his es­cape and al­lowed Hamil­ton back onto his tail and into the endgame. A lick of wheel­spin ex­it­ing T15 on lap 48 was all it took. Hamil­ton needed no sec­ond in­vi­ta­tion and he was through and gone, the crown within his grasp.

Ros­berg could match Hamil­ton’s late lead pace but he couldn’t catch him, and with Fer­rari’s Se­bas­tian Vet­tel chas­ing in third the world ti­tle was de­cided, bar­ring fur­ther in­ci­dent.

They crossed the line in that or­der, only 3.4 sec­onds cov­er­ing the lead trio: to Hamil­ton the spoils; to Ros­berg the most crush­ing de­feat. And to Vet­tel a podium af­ter a ght­ing drive and the prospect of a star­ring role in a tan­ta­lis­ing 2016 bat­tle be­tween him and Hamil­ton – be­tween sil­ver and scar­let.

Yet more re­mark­able than any of this: the 2015 US GP very nearly didn’t hap­pen. Qual­i­fy­ing was aban­doned on Satur­day, owing to the truly bi­b­li­cal storms that had drenched Austin for much of the pre­vi­ous 48 hours. Given early Sun­day’s con­tin­ued Sty­gian murk, the ques­tion was: would any track ac­tiv­ity take place?

In the event, qual­i­fy­ing did start, at 9am, but

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