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Hamilton on brink of F1 title triumph following Austin win

22 Октябрь 2017 22:49

Lewis Hamilton won the United States Grand Prix on Sunday, but must wait until at least next weekend to be crowned Formula One world champion after Sebastian Vettel did enough to prolong their title battle.

Mercedes driver Hamilton started on pole and triumphed with relative comfort in Austin to remain firmly in charge of the destiny of the championship, Vettel finishing second in Texas to keep his own slim hopes alive. 

The Briton now leads by 66 points with a maximum of 75 available to Vettel over the final three races of the season.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen thought he had snatched third from Vettel's Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen on the final lap to complete the podium, but gave the place back after a five-second penalty was imposed for all four of his wheels leaving the track.

Hamilton's colleague Valtteri Bottas, meanwhile, was fifth.

Mercedes can celebrate a fourth successive constructors' title, Ferrari having failed to prevent the German outfit from extending their dominance over the rest of the paddock.

Attention now turns to the Mexican Grand Prix, where Hamilton appears highly likely to wrap up his fourth F1 crown.

The 32-year-old made a slow start at the Circuit of the Americas, allowing Vettel to snatch the lead from second place on the grid going into the first turn.

But the German quickly found himself losing time to Hamilton, who used DRS on the back straight to pass his rival on lap six and regain first place, turning a 1.1 second deficit into a commanding lead of 3.9secs in the subsequent nine laps. 

Ferrari opted to pit Vettel after he found himself under pressure from Bottas and the change to a softer compound helped him to set the fastest lap of the race yet.

The sudden injection of Scuderia pace prompted Mercedes to bring in Hamilton, who then had to fight hard to stay ahead of Vettel when he rejoined the race.   

That brief scare proved to be the closest Hamilton came to finding himself in trouble in the race, as the championship favourite saw out the remaining laps without incident.

There was plenty of late drama behind though, Vettel dropping to fourth after a second pit stop but finishing strongly to claim second.

Verstappen's daring attempt to steal third from Raikkonen ultimately ended in failure after the young Dutchman, who performed superbly after starting 16th, was deemed to have gained an advantage from leaving the track in his final-lap manoeuvre. 

Earlier, Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo suffered a cruel blow when his power unit failed on lap 16 after he had set the fastest times in all three sectors on fresh tyres.

McLaren's Fernando Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg of Renault and Sauber's Pascal Wehrlein also retired.

 

WHY DID WE ALLOW HIM TO GET SO CLOSE?

Hamilton was not happy with his garage when the timing of his pit stop left him fighting desperately to hold off Vettel as he returned to the circuit on lap 20. 

The Brit pointedly enquired of Mercedes' strategists: "That was a little bit close guys, why did we allow him to get so close?"


RELIABILITY RUINS RICCIARDO RUN 

Red Bull's Ricciardo had enjoyed an entertaining early battle with Hamilton's team-mate Bottas and then pitted for supersoft tyres in a bid to hold off the pursuing Kimi Raikkonen.

However, the Renault power unit in the Australian's Red Bull, which was scheduled to be replaced ahead of the next race, died without warning after he had set the fastest lap of the race, leaving him stranded at the side of the circuit.

PACE, POLITICS AND THE PICTURES 

F1's big guns were not the only celebrities on show in Austin on Sunday, as Olympic sprint great Usain Bolt waved the chequered flag, while former US president Bill Clinton mingled with movie star Woody Harrelson.

IN THE POINTS

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +10.143s
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) +15.779s
4. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +16.768s
5. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +34.967s
6. Esteban Ocon (Force India) +90.980s
7. Carlos Sainz Jr (Renault) +92.944s 
8. Sergio Perez (Force India) +1 lap
9. Felipe Massa (Williams) +1 lap
10. Daniil Kyvat (Toro Rosso) +1 lap

DRIVER STANDINGS

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 331 
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 265 (-66)
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 244 (-87)
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 192 (-139)
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 163 (-168)

CONSTRUCTOR STANDINGS

1. Mercedes 575 - Champions 
2. Ferrari 428 (-147)
3. Red Bull 315 (-260)
4. Force India 159 (-416)
5. Williams 68 (-507)

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