MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Alexander Rossi’s hopes for a second career win in the U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday were dashed by a stop-and-go race in which he was involved in several incidents.
It also only made the third straight victory by championship leader Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes.
Hamilton is now 48 points clear of teammate Valtteri Bottas, who finished third.
It was another frustrating Sunday for Hamilton, who started fifth but received an early pit-stop call when teammate Valtteri Bottas crashed coming out of Turn 6, dropping the two cars down to 16th and 17th.
Bottas crashed after trying to pass Sergio Perez as he tried to set up a pass on Turn 3. He shot through the corkscrew into the gravel and suffered a puncture. Perez did not finish.
Hamilton started back in 17th, but clamped down on the lead when Nico Hulkenberg made a mistake and was forced to slow on the opening lap. Bottas was able to hold on for the second stint, but Hamilton surged ahead of them in Turn 1 and it was never really in doubt.
Bizarrely, Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo were the only drivers who made it back to the pits on the first re-start — Rossi, Carlos Sainz and Haas driver Romain Grosjean ran out of fuel. Ricciardo got a fresh set at the end of his stint, but he again was unable to close on Hamilton.
By the end of the 66 laps, Hamilton had a comfortable lead of 12.8 seconds ahead of Hulkenberg and 17.5 in front of Bottas. Hulkenberg seemed poised to make a run at Hamilton and take second, but Hamilton zipped by him into Turn 8, catching him out on the exit and easing away.
Third for Mercedes was Sainz, followed by Kvyat and Rossi.
In difficult race conditions, despite a light rain, everything was slow as the three engines were on maximum feed. It meant Mercedes drivers fought through four pit stops for two tires alone, more than Rossi had attempted to do on his first stop.
Early on, Hamilton retired from one of his first flying laps as he lost engine power in Turn 3. He had a chance to slow for heavy traffic going into Turn 9 but ran wide.
By the time the field had consolidated after the first re-start, Rossi was on the back as a result of Hulkenberg’s accident in Turn 1. Rossi struggled through to remain on the radio to say he was breathing hard, but then was involved in two more incidents.
In Turn 7 on Lap 26, he lost control of his car, a right rear left failure. A deliberate pass on Bottas was on the cards, but Williams’ Lance Stroll blocked him and pounced on Bottas.
A few laps later, Rossi lost another front wheel as his car turned into the track wall. The front left wheel came off as Rossi went into the first turn of Turn 9. He was completely unable to slow and was in the gravel.
There were nearly five more laps to go when Hamilton seized the win.