Lewis Hamilton extends title lead to 66 points
Vettel finishes second to keep slim title hopes alive
It wasn’t the killer blow in the 2017 Formula One drivers’ championship, but Lewis Hamilton all but ended what faint hopes Sebastian Vettel had of reigniting his own title challenge at Sunday’s United States Grand Prix.
After a fifth win in six races since returning from the summer break, Hamilton now leads Vettel by 66 points with just three races remaining and now seems certain to become the first British driver ever to win four world titles.
On a warm, sunny day at the Circuit of the Americas, with sprinting superstar Usain Bolt and former US President Bill Clinton watching on, the drivers were introduced to the crowd by legendary boxing MC Michael Buffer.
Hamilton couldn’t deliver a knockout blow in the title race but he turned in another star performance.
The Mercedes driver didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend, topping the time sheets in all three practice sessions before soaring to an 11th pole of the season in Saturday’s qualifying.
‘The greatest feeling in the world’
Things didn’t go according to plan at lights out as Vettel, starting from P2, stole the lead into turn one.
Hamilton wasn’t behind for long though and on the sixth lap he swept past his German rival and immediately started to extend his advantage.
Vettel tried everything to keep up, coming in for fresh tires late in the race in a desperate bid to challenge but it was to no avail as Hamilton continued his relentless pace up front to eventually win by 10 seconds.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Hamilton said when interviewed by Bolt on the podium. “I was not expecting to have the pace on Sebastian today … the car felt fantastic.”
While Hamilton celebrated in customary “lightning bolt” fashion with the Jamaican sprinter, Vettel admitted that he just hadn’t been quick enough.
“We couldn’t go at (Hamilton’s) pace today,” Vettel said. “We were a bit in no-man’s land. Towards the end we tried to pit again and put on a fresh set of tires, but overall not the result we wanted.
“There was no real secret other than they were quicker than us. Whoever is fastest usually has the best chance of winning.”
Vettel was joined on the podium by his teammate Kimi Raikkonen after Max Verstappen took third, only to receive a five-second penalty from the stewards for going off the track when overtaking the Finn on the final lap.
Hamilton may not have won the title in Austin but his victory alongside Valtteri Bottas’ fifth-place finish ensured that Mercedes sealed its fourth consecutive constructors’ title.
Hamilton will look to do the same in the drivers’ championship next weekend at the Mexico Grand Prix – finish fifth or higher at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez and he will be champion.
Lewis Hamilton beats Sebastian Vettel to win 4th F1 world title
Ocon impresses again
Further down the field it was another impressive day for Force India with both Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez finishing in the points for the 14th time this season.
Ocon finished sixth for the second successive race with Perez coming home in eighth, one place behind Carlos Sainz who scored his first points for his new team Renault following his switch from Toro Rosso.
New Zealander Brendon Hartley, who made his F1 race debut for Toro Rosso in Austin, finished a creditable 13th.
There was disappointment for Fernando Alonso on his return to America after competing at the Indianapolis 500 last May. The McLaren driver, who committed his future to the British team earlier in the week, failed to finish a race for the 11th time this season.
The same fate befell Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo who suffered engine failure on lap 16, ending a streak of three straight podium finishes.