In a race that was the definition of wet and wild, Lewis Hamilton made the most of the changeable conditions to take his third driver’s championship There’s a common saying that patience is a virtue, but as Lewis Hamilton showed on Sunday, sometimes the opposite is true. Not content to wait one more race than he had to for his coronation as 2015 driver’s champion, Hamilton got the best of Nico Rosberg in another turn-one battle before going on to take his tenth win of the season in a race that was as much a fight for survival as it was for victory. Starting under the final wave of rainclouds that had battered the Circuit of the Americas all weekend, the race was anything but the usual story with two safety cars and six lead changes over the course of the afternoon. Much of Mercedes’ pace advantage was nullified in the early going, as both Red Bull drivers duelled with the Silver Arrows in the wet conditions, while Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel posed his own threat with a contrarian tyre strategy that was negated by the final safety car. It wasn’t until the final eight laps that Hamilton took the lead for good, with teammate Nico Rosberg gifting him the lead with an unforced error at turn 13. As a result Hamilton now enters rarefied air with his third world championship, matching the feat of his boyhood idol Ayrton Senna. Finishing with a “traditional” Hamilton-Rosberg-Vettel podium, the 2015 US Grand Prix made up for that predictability with a scintillating race from start to finish. Read on for a look at some of the key stories to come out of Austin. Hamilton seals championship as Rosberg is foiled once again If Lewis Hamilton’s decision to leave McLaren for Mercedes at the end of 2012 seemed like a massive risk at the time, it’s safe to say now he couldn’t have chosen better. Hamilton’s choice to walk away from the championship-pedigree of the Woking outfit for a team that hadn’t competed in F1 since 1955 has turned into arguably the most prescient decision in the history of the sport. Delivering Hamilton the car he had always dreamed of, the Brit is now firmly seated atop the F1 throne with his second straight driver’s championship. His title-winning display on Sunday was just further proof of why that happens to be the case. Finding himself in the unusual position of not being the fastest driver in his rivalry with Nico Rosberg, Hamilton overcame the German’s wet-weather superiority thanks to bookending displays of the ruthlessness and composure his rival has often sorely lacked to steal the victory. The former was of course their first-corner stoush that saw Hamilton cover the cavernous expanse of the opening left-hander to run Rosberg completely off the track. Having conceded pole to the German, Hamilton was clearly in no mood to remain behind his teammate for any longer than he had to, in the process blurring the line between firm-but-fair aggression and Maldonado-esque malicious intent. Finding himself in fourth on re-joining the track, Rosberg was understandably aggrieved, but as we would see, that was not where he lost the race. That moment would come much later, with the aforementioned mistake on lap 48 sending Rosberg skidding out of the lead. Just two laps after a strong safety-car restart, the German had thrown it all away with the most untimely of errors to hand Hamilton his ultimate triumph. The obvious point to make here is that in the case of a Rosberg win, he would simply be delaying the inevitable – a result that looking back has been on the cards essentially since Melbourne. But Sunday’s latest episode in the Hamilton-Rosberg saga is important for indicating why that has actually been the case. Races like Sunday’s show us that sometimes, it is composure that makes the difference, but perhaps more importantly, that for as much as small but consistent margins in ability can be the deciding factor, so too can the way drivers elect to let each other race in the first place. If Hamilton was within his rights to maintain track position to the complete detriment of Rosberg at the start, it was because Rosberg had passed up a similar opportunity to shut the door mere moments earlier. In effect, it’s a contrast in mindsets between “trying to win it” and “trying not to lose it”. And, as Lewis Hamilton has shown for two years now, clearly one of those is superior to the other. Renault engine token spend does little to aid Red Bull From leading the race to almost out of it entirely, Red Bull endured an afternoon that was nigh-Winkelhockian, but in the end, the team’s hopes at a surprise victory (or even podium) evaporated as quickly as the water did. Electing to gamble wholeheartedly on a max-downforce setup, Red Bull clearly had little confidence in Renault’s gains in the wake of their 11-token spend prior to arriving in Austin. For a while it looked like it might pay off, with the conditions allowing both Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat to mix it up with the Silver Arrows like it was 2013. Then the switch to slicks happened, and it was apparent the RB11 was as outgunned as ever. Quickly bested by the Mercs and then Vettel’s Ferrari, the team was left fighting just to pick up points with Kvyat crashing out and Ricciardo sustaining damage, eventually settling for a solitary point in tenth. If there was supposed to be a saving grace for Renault in 2015, it was their token-advantage heading into the season, and yet it’s clear they still have a long ways to go if they hope to catch Ferrari, let alone Mercedes anytime soon. If it wasn’t for the incredibly poor way Red Bull have handled their engine situation, with days like Sunday you’d almost mistake Red Bull for a sympathetic figure. As it stands, the team remains rudderless for the immediate future, and with both titles wrapped up for 2015, expect all eyes to now be on this most dysfunctional of marriages. Toro Rosso’s young-guns make some serious noise If the engine is considered the weak-point of the Red Bull setup, Sunday showed why their driver depth is its strongest. 18-year-old Max Verstappen equalled his highest finish in Formula 1 with a fourth place, while his teammate Carlos Sainz came from 20th on the grid to finish seventh, giving the team its highest point total in a race in the current era of scoring. If there’s a compliment that can best sum up the oft-lauded Verstappen, it’s that his 2015 performances have made the FIA’s changes to superlicense eligibility look utterly foolish. Once again proving why he was ready for the sport at such a precocious age, the Dutchman was mixing it up with many of the sport’s big boys on his way up the field, in the process completing the ritual of being complained about on team radio by Kimi Raikkonen. Not to be outdone by his more heralded teammate, Carlos Sainz put together his own fantastic drive in Austin to show why he too is very much a part of Red Bull’s future. Starting 20th after his accident in qualifying, the Spaniard finished sixth before a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit-lane kicked in, his move to pass McLaren’s Jenson Button with two laps remaining capping an afternoon of passing drivers he’d probably grown-up watching. With races like Sunday’s, the Verstappen v Sainz debate is already shaping up to be one of the most intriguing storylines of the 2016 season. It seems only a matter of time until one of these drivers find themselves graduating to the senior team (if it still exists, that is), and it’s a battle F1 fans should absolutely relish. As we see one of the sport’s former great young talents reach the apex of his career, the cycle looks set to begin again with these young drivers, and that can only bode well for F1’s future. Where do you rank Lewis Hamilton among the all-time greats? Are Renault and Red Bull still headed for divorce? Are you excited about the prospect of Verstappen/Sainz in a Red Bull? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.