The Circuit of the Americas has always been a happy hunting ground for Hamilton and Mercedes, with that combination wining the last two US Grand Prix prior to 2016, and Hamilton only not taking the win in 2013 when Vettel was at his peak.
Wehrlein, not exactly popular with Manor management after delaying turning his engine off in an FP3 spin, went initially top in Q1 until Ericsson beat him. Nasr, however, was behind the Manor. The Brazilian reported possible brake problems as Grosjean went fastest. Hamilton was the first top-end car to qualify, beating his teammate to provisional pole by a tenth. Wehrlein managed to jump Ericsson, while Button initially found himself 21st between the Swiss cars. Ericsson managed to 14th in the dying moments. Grosjean, Magnussen, Button, Wehrlein, Nasr and Ocon fell.
Rosberg turned the tables on Hamilton in Q2, both cars on softs rather than supers. Verstappen did the same for his first run, Ricciardo taking super softs instead. Unsurprisingly, the latter Red Bull took the fastest Q2 time ahead of both Mercedes, both Ferraris, Hulkenberg and then Verstappen. Perez, Alonso, Kvyat, Gutierrez, Palmer and Ericsson dropped out in Q2.
Rosberg set the initial pace in Q3 but lost out to Hamilton almost immediately. Ricciardo in 3rd was over half a second off them.
Rosberg took pole on his final run, but Hamilton beat him with a sub-1:35. Red Bull took row 2, Ferrari row 3. Hulkenberg led Williams and Sainz home. Ironically, considering his record on Sundays, this was the first time Hamilton started at COTA in pole.
All non-top 10 cars were on softs except for Perez, Grosjean, Button [Super soft] Nasr and Ocon [Medium] at the start. The top 10 were all on supers except Mercedes and Verstappen, all of whom were on softs.
Ricciardo gained a place over Rosberg, while Raikkonen deposed Verstappen. Massa took 7th off the line with Bottas falling out of the top 10. However, by the time the cars made it to the hairpin furthest from the line, both Force Indias had lost a lot of ground in collisions. Sainz, Alonso and Gutierrez completed the top 10. Bottas reported a puncture, pitting along with Hulkenberg who had hit both Vettel and Bottas and taken damage. The Force India was unable to continue in the race, and the incident went under investigation. Nothing was done since the apparent responsible driver was out of the race.
Raikkonen and Ricciardo pitted to switch to softs on lap 8. Verstappen, strangely, was in just a lap later for more softs. Rosberg came in for the first stop, swapping to medium tyres. Hamilton was in for more softs after a further lap. Vettel now led the race, showing no immediate intention to pit.
Verstappen took Raikkonen on lap 13, finally making up for his first lap loss of position.
Kvyat was penalised for hitting Perez on the first lap with 10 seconds added to his time.
Vettel came into the pits on lap 14, swapping supers for soft tyres.
Gutierrez' brakes broke on lap 16, the Haas limping back to the pits to retire.
Button jumped Kvyat for 10th in a further insult to the struggling Toro Rosso driver, despite the Russian having just been signed for another season at the Faenza squad. Perez was immediately on his tail, getting past half a lap later, Grosjean also scything past.
Lap 21 saw Kvyat pit, and take his penalty. He took mediums to replace his soft tyres.
Raikkonen stopped for supers on lap 24, in a strange move as the Finn locked himself into a 3-stop strategy and remained just in front of Massa in 6th. Ahead, Vettel had climbed to 5th. Ricciardo was in a lap later, releasing Rosberg into 2nd. The Red Bull took mediums, aiming to finish on that rubber.
Verstappen stopped on lap 26, the team not ready for him, but he left the pits on medium tyres having been stationary for over 9 seconds. Driver error was admitted, Verstappen believing he'd been called into the pits. He dropped to 6th.
Vettel was called in on lap 29, taking mediums and falling to 5th.
Out on track, Verstappen was coasting down the long back straight with what appeared to be transmission failure. He reported it as “something hitting the engine”, limping home with minimal speed until he gave up and parked well out of the way of traffic in the final sector. The VSC was deployed to clear that car, with Hamilton taking the chance to pit under it on lap 31. Rosberg followed suit again, both on mediums now.
The VSC ended on lap 33, Wehrlein promptly moving over for Rosberg after the Mercedes almost overtook him out of the pits when the race was neutralised.
Raikkonen made his final stop on lap 38, taking softs until the end. However, he had to park and roll back into the pit lane to get the car serviced with a loose wheel. A lack of mechanics, however, meant the race was over for the Finn. Sainz was now promoted to 5th, Massa to 6th. Alonso, Perez, Button and Grosjean completed the top 10.
Magnussen made a late stop and sat behind his teammate with better pace. Palmer had been asking that Renault move his teammate out of his way, but now they would have to make the opposite order.
Manor could breathe a sigh of relief as Ericsson dropped from 11th to 12th behind a resurgent Kvyat. Behind them, Palmer moved aside for Magnussen.
Alonso muscled his way past Massa, stealing 6th from the Williams despite Massa basically steering into the side of the McLaren. Sainz presumably breathed a sigh of relief to see that in his mirrors. The stewards looked into it after the race.
Vettel made a very late stop to do the last 3 laps on super soft tyres, staying 4th.
Magnussen overtaking Kvyat off-track was investigated after the race – Alonso later doing the exact same thing to clear the other Toro Rosso.
Massa had to pit to replace a punctured left front tyre – the same tyre that had made contact with Alonso's front right corner.
Hamilton took a comfortable win - his 50th - from Rosberg and Ricciardo. Vettel took 4th ahead of Sainz, Alonso, Massa, Perez, Button and Grosjean. Magnussen, Kvyat, Palmer, Ericsson, Nasr, Bottas, Wehrlein and Ocon finished outside of the top 10.
At the time of publishing, the investigations had not yet been concluded.