Lewis Hamilton is within striking distance to winning his fourth Formula 1 world championship with a commanding victory in the United States Grand Prix at Austin.
The Mercedes driver lost the lead to his title rival Sebastian Vettel at the start, but got back past the Ferrari driver early on to score his ninth victory of the season and fifth in six attempts at the Circuit of Americas.
Vettel finished second, 10.1 seconds adrift, and now trails Hamilton by 66 points with only 75 remaining, with Max Verstappen snatching third from Kimi Raikkonen with an incredible pass on the final lap of the race.
However, Verstappen was given a five-second penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage when completing that overtake, which demoted him to fourth with Raikkonen promoted back to third.
Valtteri Bottas finished fifth as his Mercedes team clinched its fourth successive constructors’ championship with three races still remaining.
Vettel made a great start from second on the grid to dive up the inside of Hamilton into Turn 1, despite Hamilton’s efforts to defend the line.
Hamilton reported that his tyres felt good and after a couple of laps had got back within DRS range before launching an attack down the back straight.
The Mercedes nipped down the inside to take the position and though Vettel attacked through the twisty section that followed, Hamilton held the Ferrari off.
Vettel pitted at the end of lap 16, swapping the ultra-softs for softs, but Hamilton chose to stay out three laps longer before pitting for fresh set of Pirelli.
Vettel set a series of fast laps, but ran wide at the penultimate corner as Hamilton pitted, with the Mercedes emerging from the pits just ahead into Turn 1 to stay ahead.
Max Verstappen ran a long first stint, having started P16, and rose through the field to take the lead as others made their pit stops.
Hamilton quickly caught the Red Bull driver and used DRS to make the pass on cut back at Turn 14 to retake a lead.
Verstappen pitted at the end of lap 24, taking the soft tyre and rejoining fifth. Red Bull then went aggressive by pitting him for a second time 13 laps later.
The Red Bull driver took the super-softs and stayed fifth, such was the gap to Esteban Ocon behind, with Vettel responding and taking the same compound, rejoining fourth having run second.
That promoted Bottas to second with Raikkonen third, but the Mercedes driver was struggling for speed and after a series of attacks, Raikkonen finally made one stick at the end of the back straight to snatch second.
Vettel used fresh tyres to close back up to Bottas, passing the Mercedes driver around the outside of Turn 1 to take third with five laps to go.
Raikkonen was informed by his team that Vettel was now the car behind and promptly moved over at Turn 1 to allow his team-mate to take second position.
He then lost third in the final sequence of corners when Verstappen dived down the inside of the long right-hander on the final lap only to be given the position back following the Red Bull driver’s penalty.
It was a bad day for Verstappen’s team-mate Daniel Ricciardo who retired early on, having had a great battle with Bottas for third, with a suspected engine problem.
Ocon absorbed pressure from Carlos Sainz Jr to hold on to sixth, with the latter scoring points on his first start for Renault in seventh.
Sergio Perez, who was frustrated with his Force India team when he felt he was being held up by Ocon midway through the race, ended up eighth with Felipe Massa and Daniil Kvyat completing the top ten.
Brendon Hartley finished P13 on his Grand Prix debut with Toro Rosso, 26 seconds behind Toro Rosso team-mate Kvyat.
Nico Hulkenberg retired after suffering a loss of oil pressure, while Fernando Alonso’s race was ended with an engine problem.
Pascal Wehrlein also failed to finish after contact with Kevin Magnussen at the start while his Sauber team-mate finished P15, having incurred a five-second penalty for causing a separate collision with Magnussen.
With this victory at the Circuit of the Americas, Lewis Hamilton is just ten points away in sealing his fourth world championship. It’s going to be a really difficult for Sebastian Vettel to wrestle this title back but anything can happen in Formula 1. Roll on Mexico.
United States Grand Prix, race results after 56 laps:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 56 1h33m50.993s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 56 10.143s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 56 15.779s
4 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 56 16.768s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 56 34.967s
6 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 56 1m30.980s
7 Carlos Sainz Renault 56 1m32.944s
8 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 55 1 Lap
9 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 55 1 Lap
10 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault 55 1 Lap
11 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 55 1 Lap
12 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Honda 55 1 Lap
13 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Renault 55 1 Lap
14 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 55 1 Lap
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 55 1 Lap
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 55 1 Lap
– Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 24 Retirement
– Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 14 Retirement
– Pascal Wehrlein Sauber-Ferrari 5 Retirement
– Nico Hulkenberg Renault 3 Retirement