Lewis Hamilton took a big stride towards winning his fourth Formula 1 world championship by winning Sunday's United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, as Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel finished second to keep the title fight alive heading to Mexico next weekend.

Hamilton entered the US GP race weekend capable of wrapping up the championship if he were to outscore Vettel by 16 points at the Circuit of The Americas, and started the race from pole after topping Saturday's qualifying session.

Vettel made a better start from second place on the grid, though, allowing the Ferrari driver to seize the lead on the run up to Turn 1 and pull out a small advantage through the opening laps.

Hamilton soon found his feet and, with the help of DRS, was able to reclaim the lead from Vettel on Lap 6 heading into Turn 12 before pulling clear through the opening stint of the race.

Ferrari looked to put pressure on Hamilton by pitting Vettel early and exploiting the undercut, with Mercedes committing to a longer first stint in the hope of having fresher tyres later on.

The decision nearly backfired as Hamilton emerged from the pits at the end of Lap 20 with less than one car length's advantage over Vettel, but was able to pull clear once again, quickly moving out of DRS range and enjoying a buffer of more than five seconds heading into the closing stages.

The fight at the front was shaken up when Max Verstappen - who had risen from P16 on the grid and was Red Bull's sole contender at the front after Daniel Ricciardo retired - moved onto a two-stop strategy on Lap 37, forcing the drivers ahead to consider making a similar switch.

Ferrari reacted immediately by pitting Vettel one lap later, with the German only just coming out of the pits ahead of Verstappen, but he was soon able to stretch his legs and create a gap once again. Hamilton stayed out due to his healthy lead over the field, while the Finnish pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas in P2 and P3 also opted against pitting again, hopeful of keeping the charging Vettel and Verstappen at bay.

The fresh rubber allowed Vettel to latch onto the back of Bottas before making a move at Turn 1 with seven laps to go, sweeping around the outside while also dodging Stoffel Vandoorne in the McLaren. Bottas was powerless to stop Verstappen also passing, with Mercedes ultimately deciding to bring him in for a late pit stop due to his heavily worn tyres.

Hamilton's decision to stay out was justified as he crossed the line over 10 seconds clear of the field to secure his sixth US GP win and fifth at COTA, extending his F1 championship lead to 66 points heading into the final three races of the season as Vettel was left to settle for second place at the checkered flag.

The fight to complete the podium went down to the final lap, with Verstappen nicking P3 after a bold pass on Raikkonen through the final sector, riding across the kerb to complete a stunning fight through the field. However, the stewards looked dimly on the move, handing the Dutchman a five-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage that dropped him to fourth in the final classification.

Valtteri Bottas was left to cross the line fifth in the second Mercedes after losing out to Vettel and Verstappen late on, making a stop for fresh tyres soon after. The result was nevertheless enough to secure Mercedes its fourth straight constructors' championship with three races to spare.

Esteban Ocon finished as the top midfield driver in P6 for Force India ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr., who impressed on debut for Renault to take seventh at the flag, with Sergio Perez following in eighth ahead of Felipe Massa and the returning Daniil Kvyat, who took a point for P10 on his return to F1 after two races away.

Lance Stroll finished 11th in the second Williams, two places behind teammate Massa, while Stoffel Vandoorne was McLaren's sole finisher in 12th after teammate Fernando Alonso had to retire due to an engine issue.

Brendon Hartley took a solid P13 on his F1 debut and first single-seater race since 2012, finishing ahead of Romain Grosjean in 14th for Haas. Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen were the last classified finishers in 15th and 16th, with the pair clashing late in the race, suffering minor damage in the process.


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