Sebastian Vettel finishes in second place at the US Grand Prix ensuring that his title hopes remain just alive
Lewis Hamilton dominant in Texas but has to wait for another F1 title
Lewis Hamilton overtook his rival Sebastian Vettel on the way to another dominant victory at the United States Grand Prix, showing the form that will likely see him crowned Formula One world champion for a fourth time next weekend.
The Mercedes driver, starting on pole, lost the lead at the first corner after an electric start by his only contender for the title, but regained it on the sixth lap and then rarely looked in trouble all the way to the chequered flag.
The only doubt came when he emerged from his opening pit stop just ahead of Vettel – prompting a terse radio exchange with his team - but then relentlessly extended his lead over the second half of the race to finish ten seconds ahead of the Ferrari driver. "That was so much fun today," said a jubilant Hamilton after he crossed the line.
The second place for Vettel meant that Hamilton was unable to claim the championship on Sunday, but the manner of the victory and the 66-point gap between the pair with only three races to go means that Hamilton is almost certain to secure the title next week in Mexico.
The championship will only go to the final two races if Vettel wins next weekend and Hamilton finishes in sixth place or lower. The victory in Austin, Texas – Hamilton’s fourth in a row at the circuit – also meant that Mercedes claimed the constructors’ title, despite another disappointing day for Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas who finished in fifth.
The Briton’s assured drive to victory meant that the drama was lower down the field with Max Verstappen – who started in 16th place on the grid - providing the excitement in finishing in third after a stunning final-lap move on Kimi Raikkonen.
He was later demoted to fourth after being handed a five-second penalty for leaving the track during the manoeuvre, a decision which enraged the young Dutchman.
"We had a great race but with those stupid decisions you kill the sport," he said. "I hope the fans do not like this decision and next year they do not come."
Despite his formidable lead, Hamilton refused to accept that the title was his. "Still three to go, still three more to win - let's go guys," he said.
“I think this track is now my favourite. A big congratulations to the team who have worked so hard back at the factory. They truly deserve it as they have been the best team this year.”
Vettel appeared resigned to finishing behind Hamilton in the race for the championship title. "Not the result we wanted," he said. "There was no real secret other than they were quicker than us. Those who are fastest have a good chance of winning."