Mercedes clinches fourth straight F1 constructors’ title at USGP

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Mercedes clinched its fourth straight Formula 1 constructors’ championship in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton took his ninth victory of the season at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas.

Hamilton produced a controlled display at the front to lead Mercedes to victory, while teammate Valtteri Bottas struggled to manage his tires late on, dropping to fifth place at the checkered flag.

The result was nevertheless enough to secure Mercedes the title as it outscored the rival Ferrari team by two points on Sunday.

Mercedes has spent much of the season neck-and-neck with Ferrari for pace, but the gap in the constructors’ championship has gradually swelled through the year, with the gap standing at 145 points heading to Austin.

Ferrari had to outscore Mercedes by 17 points in the USGP just to keep the title race alive to Mexico, but fell short in Austin as the Silver Arrows wrapped up a fourth successive teams’ title with three races to spare.

Mercedes returned to F1 with a works team in 2010, and clinched its first pair of titles four years later upon the introduction of the new V6 turbo power units.

An overhaul of the technical regulations for 2017 saw Ferrari draw much closer to Mercedes at the front of the pack, but the German marque has dug deep to lead the constructors’ standings since Canada, taking 11 wins and 13 poles so far this season.

The result sees Mercedes become just the fourth team in history to win four straight constructors’ titles, following in the footsteps of Red Bull (2010 to 2013), Ferrari (1999 to 2004) and McLaren (1988 to 1991).

It is also the sixth constructors’ title to have been won by Mercedes power, with the works team’s quartet of crowns being joined by Brawn and McLaren’s titles in 2009 and 1998 respectively.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.