After Scott McLaughlin’s maiden title triumph in a final showdown in Newcastle the year before, Supercars in 2019 was poised to deliver another battle of the heavyweights. However, controversy has left a bitter aftertaste.
Lewis Hamilton has secured his sixth Formula One world championship with a second-place finish at the US Grand Prix, won by his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton’s third-straight F1 title puts him just one behind the record of seven held by Michael Schumacher, adding to the championships he also won in 2008 with McLaren and in 2014 and 2015 with Mercedes.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took third place at the Circuit of the Americas with Australian Daniel Ricciardo sixth for Renault.
Hamilton needed a top eight finish in Texas to wrap up another world crown and immediately jumped from fifth to third behind pole sitter Bottas and Max Verstappen before the 34-year-old Briton took the lead on a one-stop strategy.
Bottas closed him down and got past his teammate on lap 52 of the 56 laps.
Hamilton was then able to defend second place from Verstappen.
“Still we rise, still we rise what an incredible weekend, I can’t believe it, I really can’t believe it!” was Hamilton’s first reaction over team radio.
“It’s overwhelming if I’m honest. It was a tough race today and yesterday was a difficult day for us – Valtteri did a great job so congratulations to him,” Hamilton said in a first trackside interview.
“My mum, dad, step-mum and step-dad and my family are here and it’s an honour to be here [with six] with those greats.
“My dad told me when I was like six or seven never to give up and that’s kind of the family motto.”
Bottas was able to celebrate his fourth win of the season and his seventh of his career.
“It’s a nice win. Feels good. Felt very good since yesterday in the car…,” the Finn said.
“Only thing I could have done in terms of the championship race, the rest was up to Lewis.
“Big congratulations to him. I personally failed on my target this year but there is always next year.
“He deserves it. He’s a great champion.”
But the season’s plaudits go to Hamilton as well as Mercedes, who have a sixth drivers’ championship in a row including Nico Rosberg’s title in 2016, and already made sure of a sixth-straight constructors’ title three weeks ago in Japan.
Although Hamilton was unable to add to his 83 career wins, he has 150 podium places and Schumacher’s record of 91 victories will be in his sights next season.
Asked how many more championships he is targeting, Hamilton said: “I don’t know about championships but as an athlete I feel as fresh as I can be…”
It was a disappointing race for Ferrari, with Charles Leclerc off the podium in fourth place while Sebastian Vettel started second on the grid but immediately lost ground and his suspension broke on lap eight to end his race.
Alex Albon in a Red Bull was fifth, followed by Ricciardo in a Renault, McLaren duo Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz, Nico Huelkenberg in a Renault and Daniil Kvyat in a Toro Rosso rounded out the top 10.
Two races remain of the season, the Brazilian Grand Prix on November 17 and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on December 1.