Rosberg was the narrow victor in qualifying, the German had set pole by just 83cm after he put together a perfect lap to just edge Hamilton. This weekend it was the Ferrari’s ahead of Red Bull with Raikkonen third and Vettel fourth. However that contact in Sepang cost Vettel, meaning Verstappen started fourth, Ricciardo fifth then Vettel.
Rosberg built on that pole to take victory following another awful start by Hamilton falling down to eighth. He did come back during the closing stages to fight with Verstappen including on the penultimate lap, when Hamilton saw a chance to pass Verstappen down the inside going into the chicane, but had to pull left dramatically as Verstappen jinked right to slam the door.
Vettel finished fourth following a frustrating race through the field. The German made a good start passing Sergio Perez early on followed by team-mate Kimi Raikkonen
But for Mercedes it didn’t matter as the first and third place was enough to seal a third constructors title. However, it was beginning to look very difficult for Hamilton to win his third successive title.
As for Mclaren and Honda, it was a very tough weekend with Fernando Alonso sixteenth and Jenson Button eighteenth.
When F1 arrived in Austin, the battle off the track between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton was entering the final weeks. Like in F1 the battle for the White House was as bitter and had more twists and turns than a soap opera. But, was the outsider before the season about to add to the surprise year?
The battle for pole was as close on track as the polls were; Hamilton was a tenth faster than Rosberg in qualifying. Hamilton had looked in fine form all weekend, but his session wasn’t the best has he suffered with weird gearshifts. Ricciardo again out-qualified Verstappen and the Ferrari’s just behind.
Hamilton made the better start getting ahead of Rosberg where they remained for much of the race. This was helped partly by Verstappen, who handed them both a free stop after his engine blew bringing out the Virtual Safety Car. Verstappen had been trying to use fresh tyres to get ahead of the Ferrar’s who he had lost out to in the pits.
It was time for clash of the Spaniards, Alonso and Sainz where fight over position but the elder of the two was going too hard, pushing the Toro Rosso off. It just added to the messy afternoon for Alonso, earlier he banging wheels with Felipe Massa as he passed his former team-mate and punctured his Williams in the process. Massa also suffered a puncher after being hit at the start. But the Brazilian finished seventh with Hamilton taking a fifth victory in America!
It was another close fight between Hamilton and Rosberg in Mexico. Hamilton had the upper hand in qualifying, this was key as he knew he needed a points score to stop Rosberg becoming champion this weekend. The momentum that Red Bull has had in recent races, once again they out qualified the Ferrari’s.
It was a disappointing session for Perez, the Mexican failed to get into Q3 after being pushed out in the closing moments of Q2 by Button. As for Esteban Gutiérrez he didn’t get his Haas out of Q1.
Hamilton took victory from Rosberg. But who was third Verstappen, Vettel or Ricciardo? Verstappen finished third, and then was stripped of third with Vettel being awarded third following his driving during the race. However, during that battle Vettel said “Move! Move! For BEEP sake.” As Verstappen refused to move out his way and a quick decision saw him demoted before the podium.
Later Vettel was summoned to face the stewards over his conduct. Vettel had also told race director Charlie Whiting repeatedly to “f— off”, this earned him a penalty prompting Ricciardo to third. All the drama over shadowed what was a great drive from Hamilton, who showed he can come back on his team-mate to close the lead that Rosberg has had over him since the summer break.