The 2019 United States Grand Prix felt less like a Formula 1 motor race and like a homecoming for World Champion elect Lewis Hamilton.
The Stevenage-born driver who spends much of his time in the USA needed just four points in the USGP to clinch his sixth Formula 1 world title, taking him clear of the great Juan Manuel Fangio and just one behind Michael Schumacher’s outright record of seven titles – a record that, to many of us at the time, seemed unbeatable.
Given that Hamilton had failed to score four points in a race on just three occasions since he lost out to the 2016 World title to Nico Rosberg (in 60+ races), it was practically a foregone conclusion that he’d leave Austin with the WDC trophy in his suitcase (metaphorically of course).
Drivers were asked for tributes to Hamilton prior to the event, Hamilton’s family and entourage were all present, and a special ‘parking reserved for 2019 World Champion’ spot was painted beneath the podium, removing any doubt who Liberty and COTA’s money was on for the title. (Probably a source of at least some frustration for Valtteri Bottas, for whom the title was still a possibility, albeit distant.)
But there was to be no shocks here. Hamilton duly finished directly behind winner Bottas to seal his sixth World Championship with two races to spare.
Obviously in this situation, what everyone wants to know is what celebrities Will.I.Am and Matthew McConaughey think of the situation.
Don’t you worry!! Sky are on the case with two of the most nauseating #F1 interviews you’re ever likely to hear.
What America’s last #F1 world champion Mario Andretti – also in attendance at COTA – thought of Hamilton’s achievements went undocumented. Clearly not showbiz enough for this glitzy new era of Formula 1.
But what about the Williams duo of George Russell and Robert Kubica I hear you ask? What part did they play in Hamilton’s coronation?
Well, starting the United States Grand Prix 18th and 19th respectively, and the slowest of all the qualifiers (Perez was relegated to last after a pitlane infringement), both cars profited a place or two at the start, before settling down at the back of the field.
Kubica made it to about half distance before having to retire with hydraulic issues having struggled throughout to find any pace in his FW42.
Russell found himself unable to prevent his tyres from overheating, prompting a second, unscheduled, pitstop on lap 46 before managing his car to a 17th place finish.
“Today we simply struggled for pace, not helped by the gusty conditions which made the car difficult to drive, and which were punishing for the tyres. We had hoped to one stop the race, but the high tyre degradation made that almost impossible” said Dave Robson, Williams’ Senior Race Engineer.
Two more races left to go in the 2019 Formula 1 season, and it’s looking unlikely that Williams will be able to add to the single point they scored at the German Grand Prix earlier in the season.
Williams’ focus has long since switched to the 2020 season, where it simply must do better.