FORMULA 1

Valtteri Bottas wins U.S. Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton wins sixth Formula 1 World Championship

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The top step at Circuit of the Americas belonged to Valtteri Bottas, but Lewis Hamilton continued his domination of Formula 1 by clinching his sixth World Championship.

The pair of Mercedes drivers finished in the top two spots at the U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon, as Bottas passed Hamilton with four laps remaining to win his seventh career F1 race, and first in Austin.

It's the sixth overall and third straight championship for Hamilton, who is now just one behind German legend Michael Schumacher for most all-time.

"It's beyond surreal, that my life journey has brought me to this point wining my sixth title," Hamilton said. "I don't really know how I'm supposed to feel right now. I'm flying super high right now, and I've got my family with me.

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who finished fourth, set the fastest lap on lap 44 with a time of 1:36.169, also a new lap record at Circuit of the Americas.

Bottas won three other times this season. This win, coupled with a recently-signed contract that will keep him with Mercedes next season, gave the 30-year-old native of Finland an equal sense of relief and happiness.

"The direction is clear for me," Bottas said. "It gives me some confidence and some momentum. Unlike the end of last year, I'm really looking forward to the year ahead, and I'm really excited to start the next season fresh."

Both Mercedes had a fantastic start. Hamilton jumped from seventh to third on the opening lap, while Bottas held off a hard-charging Verstappen in the opening, up-hill turn and through the opening sector.

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who began the race in second, fell back to seventh early on and retired after just eight laps.

Bottas said his original plan was to pit only once, but Verstappen's two-stop strategy changed those plans.

Hamilton took his first lead on lap 15 when Bottas went to the pits, and he mirrored his strategy last week in Mexico City when he stayed out longer than planned.

Bottas retook the lead when Hamilton pitted on lap 25 and didn't relinquish it for more than 10 laps until he pitted for the second time. Hamilton continued to nurse his tires while Bottas chased him down and overtook him with four laps to go.

Had Kevin Magnussen not spun and brought out the safety car on the final lap, Verstappen was on pace to pass Hamilton and move up one step on the podium.

"Sometimes those things happen," Verstappen said. "To be on the podium here after a very positive weekend, in general, is a really good achievement for us."

The world championship is all wrapped up at the top, but drivers are still jockeying for position below Hamilton and Bottas. Ferrari will look to bounce back from a disappointing weekend, while Verstappen is challenging to move up in the drivers' standings.

Teams will travel to Brazil for the next Grand Prix from Nov. 15-17 and finish off the 2019 champaign in the United Arab Emirates from Nov. 29-Dec. 1.

"Usually the reflection comes at the end of the year when work finishes and you can sit back and have a beer," Hamilton said. "Only then can you grasp how great a year it's been. I'm thinking I've got two more races to go and I'm thinking of how I can win.

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