Hamilton grabs pole position at US Grand Prix in title bid

Sebastian Vettel German GP 2018

Sebastian Vettel German GP 2018

Kimi Raikkonen claimed his first grand prix victory win in more than five years in a thrilling United States Grand Prix, thwarting Lewis Hamilton's bid to claim the championship at Circuit of The Americas.

Raikkonen back on top: It's been five long years since Raikkonen's last win at the 2013 Australian Grand Prix.

Vettel qualified second, and just 0.061 slower than Hamilton, but has a three-place grid drop after failing to slow sufficiently while red flags were being waved in Friday practice.

It will be nice viewing for future Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo, too, after he had to watch most of the race from the pits after his Red Bull lost power on lap nine.

For much of the year, Ferrari was believed to have the stronger race vehicle.

At that stage, second would have been enough for Hamilton to take the championship, but a recovering Vettel fought his way past Bottas, meaning Hamilton would have then required to get past race victor, Raikkonen, too.

Teammate Valteri Bottas moved aside, but Raikonnen and Verstappen were too quick; the young Dutchman nearly gave Hamilton a sniff, but managed to hold him off in the closing laps and claim a dramatic second-place finish.

"I knew it was going to take perfection and neat laps to take them", said Hamilton.

Hamilton, he said, was completely different.

He leaves Austin, Texas, with a 70-point lead over Vettel, who eventually finished fourth, with 75 available over the remaining three grands prix.

"These guys (Ferrari)!. I didn't know how close it would be".

Hamilton leads Vettel by 67 points in the championship with four races to go.

"There's been some races when I haven't been able to do better so I'm happy I could today". By Lap 35 the damage looked severe, and what was once an nearly 18-second advantage was whittled down to just eight seconds. The late blocking move by Verstappen and Vettel's charge past Mercedes' Vallteri Bottas in the final laps kept the championship alive.

"We just need everything now", Hamilton was told, and once Bottas let him past and into third, the Briton went about closing his 12-second deficit to Raikkonen.

Hamilton refused to get into predictions about Sunday's outcome.

Asked if Mercedes was too conservative with strategy in Austin in the hope that he would get the result he needed for the title on Sunday, Hamilton said: "There was that feeling with the performance and the decisions that were taken today, as opposed to previous races, but I didn't think we needed to make many changes [to our approach]".

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