Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton moved closer to a fourth Formula One world title by winning the US Grand Prix ahead of Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel yesterday.
The result means the title battle now moves to Mexico next Sunday when Hamilton will need to finish fifth or higher to secure the 2017 title.
Hamilton took the chequered flag at the Circuit of the Americas comfortably ahead of Vettel for his fourth straight win at the Austin circuit, while Mercedes secured a fourth straight constructors’ title.
“That was so much fun today, appreciate it. You guys have worked so hard, so proud to be a part of it,” Hamilton told his team over radio.
The 32-year-old Briton has now won five of the last six races in Austin and five of the last six races of the season, taking his wins this season to nine and his career win tally to 62.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen overtook Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen right at the end after starting 16th on the grid but was given a five-second penalty for cutting the corner, to move him off the podium to fourth.
Vettel got past pole-sitter Hamilton with a brilliant start, but the Briton regained the lead on lap six and always had the pace to keep his rival at bay.
The closest Hamilton came to relinquishing the lead was when Vettel pitted on lap 17 of the 56 laps for soft tyres and almost undercut the Mercedes after Hamilton came in for fresh tyres three laps later.
“Why did you guys let him go so close,” Hamilton queried over team radio.
The pit stops enabled Red Bull’s Verstappen to take the lead briefly before Hamilton got past the Dutchman, who then made his first tyre change.
Verstappen pitted again, and Vettel reacted with his own pit stop to come out fourth ahead of the Red Bull with 16 laps remaining.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen managed to get past Valtteri Bottas in a Mercedes to go second, while Vettel overtook Bottas with five laps left.
Raikkonen promptly allowed Vettel to swap places for second, and Verstappen also squeezed past Bottas before the Finn made a late tyre change.
Late drama came with Verstappen closing in on Raikkonen to get past the Finn right at the end, only to have the stewards slap him with a time penalty for cutting the track — to the anger of Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
“They have been driving off track all weekend, Max made a fair move,” Horner said.
“It is an appalling decision. They have robbed all of the fans here.”
Bottas was fifth ahead of Esteban Ocon in a Force India, Carlos Sainz in a Renault, Sergio Perez in a Force India, Felipe Massa in a Williams and Daniil Kvyat in a Toro Rosso.
Renault’s Nico Huelkenberg and Sauber’s Pascal Wehrlein retired early, while Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who had earlier been involved in a thrilling duel for third place with Bottas, went off in lap 16 with an engine failure.
McLaren’s Fernando Alonso also retired just before the half-way mark while lying seventh.
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