The 25th October was not a day for the faint-hearted in the world of motorsport. Lewis Hamilton clinched his third Formula One title in Austin, Texas after an abnormally wet weekend. Having been delayed for more than two hours, Saturday’s qualifying was moved to Sunday morning instead. The rain still persisted and the final leg of qualifying was cancelled, so the second leg results determined the afternoon’s starting grid. With Mercedes’s Nico Rosberg on pole, it seemed the championship race would continue into the next event.
However, the Grand Prix turned out to be wilder than expected. Only 12 out of 20 drivers saw the chequered flag, with shunts from Räikkönen, Bottas, Sauber and Red Bull among others. Two full and two virtual safety car periods allowed teams to switch strategies and change tyres, which proved very beneficial to Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton, placing him second with fresh tyres, just behind Rosberg towards the end of the race.
It was nevertheless an unforced error from Rosberg – who went wide eight laps before the finish – that granted Hamilton the title, which he described as the “greatest moment” of his life over the team radio. He later said that “I feel like I have the baton now for myself and Ayrton and I will carry it as far as I can and see where I can build it”.Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel had to settle for third, giving up his already slim title chances, after starting from 13th on the grid due to a penalty derived from an engine change.
As for Moto GP, Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi came under major public scrutiny after allegedly kicking Marc Márquez off of his motorbike while the two were in the midst of a heated battle in the Malaysian Grand Prix. The seasoned Italian’s championship chances have diminished greatly, despite holding a seven-point lead over team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, as he will have to start last in the final race of the season in Valencia. Additionally, his public image and sportsmanship have been undoubtedly tarnished. Has “the Doctor” lost his touch?
Finally, Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen won his first World Championship rally in Catalonia. The Norwegian’s maiden victory almost caught him by surprise, as his team mate, three-time world champion Sébastien Ogier, crashed quite spectacularly in the very last stage after leading most of the event; the Frenchman has, however, already secured his world title after yet another dominant season. Their teammate, Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala, finished second, just 3.1 seconds off the lead. Hyundai’s Dani Sordo finished in third – the Spaniard’s best result of the season.