"I miss him dearly".
A sellout crowd, that included both of Hamilton's parents, arrived early at a sun-kissed circuit outside Austin expecting to see a coronation and were not disappointed as the Briton battled Bottas to the death. He tumbled down the order and returned to the pits at the end of the first lap. But he maintained that he wasn't fussed about the race just yet.
Verstappen passed Vettel around the outside of Turn 1 at the start and though he backed off as race leader Bottas moved wide on the exit, there was a tiny amount of contact. "As I said, I'm happy for him but less happy for us".
Daniel Ricciardo drove well to finish sixth for Renault, with Lando Norris also driving a strong race for McLaren to finish seventh.
David Coulthard, championship runner-up to Schumacher in 2001 and substitute for Ayrton Senna in Williams in 1994 following the fantastic Brazilian's fatal crash, implied that wouldn't be what sets Hamilton aside, however.
Once in third, Hamilton slowly started to build pressure on Verstappen, who had picked up minor front wing damage at the first corner.
Still, it would be no surprise if Hamilton made it four in a row in 2020 and Wolff added: "If we are able to provide our drivers with a good vehicle next year that is competitive, we continue to work on the gaps we still have, try to minimise mistakes, and Lewis has a good season, I think there is no reason why he couldn't go for a seventh title".
"Usually the reflection comes at the end of the year when work finishes and you can just take a load off and just sit back and have a beer", Hamilton said.
With four of his seven career wins coming this season, Bottas is in the middle of his best Formula One campaign.
Bottas, whose last slim hopes of beating Hamilton this season died in Austin, said: "Obviously big congrats to him".
And despite 83 race wins and 150 podiums, he says is not there yet.
Hamilton said: "I have always said reaching Michael's was never a target for me". "It just felt very good since yesterday in the auto". Hamilton managed to keep the pressure on Vettel sufficiently to force the German into yet another spin in close combat, but another second place looked likely as Leclerc cruised in P1. "They were just a little bit faster today. I am not happy we were not in contention but you need to respect what he achieved the last years and this year together with his team, how strong they've been".
His team-mate Carlos Sainz finished eighth after also being involved in lap one incidents, with Nico Hulkenberg in ninth and Daniil Kvyat rounding off the points in tenth.