Raikkonen keeps Hamilton's title hopes on ice with superb U.S. victory

Lewis Hamilton

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Lewis Hamilton secured pole position for Sunday's potential title-deciding United States Grand Prix by just 0.061 seconds on Saturday (Oct 20) with another record-breaking performance for Mercedes in a tense qualifying session. The Finn made a great start, diving down the inside of Hamilton at Turn 1, and then executed two attractive stints to convert into victory.

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.

In a tense finish, Raikkonen, Verstappen and Hamilton were nose to tail and the Mercedes driver failed in his one opportunity to pass the Dutchman with three laps to go.

Lewis Hamilton may be trailing Michael Schumacher in terms of outright wins and titles, but the Brit is "miles above" the great German as an F1 world champion according to Jacques Villeneuve.

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Hamilton appeared to be handed the title after Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel spun on the opening lap when he banged wheels with Daniel Ricciardo and dropped down the order. If Hamilton wins, Vettel must finish no longer than second to keep the championship alive next week into the Mexican Grand Prix.

For the always outspoken Villeneuve, Hamilton stands a good chance of catching and overhauling Schumacher in the coming years.

He quickly caught the Finn again but struggled to overtake the Ferrari, only taking the lead when Raikkonen eventually pitted - all the while, Max Verstappen moved up from 18th on the grid to third.

"I thought we'd be able to do better, but this is the best we could do in the end", he conceded.

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Force India's Esteban Ocon will start sixth, with Renault's Nico Hulkenberg seventh and Romain Grosjean in eighth place for Haas, Formula One's only USA team. "The first lap was good, but being that I was less than one-tenth ahead I knew the next lap these guys would improve also, so there was no room for error".

"I think that communicating a decision like that is more appropriate on the eve of a race weekend on a "friendly" track, rather than at a weekend that promises to be more fraught".

They said I took 27.7 seconds to slow down.

"It's not really been an eventful day - which is a shame because a lot of people came out today", said Hamilton. Also Verstappen did a great job as well.

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Sebastian Vettel's slim title hopes may have taken another hit after he was summoned to the stewards following first practice at the U.S. Grand Prix.

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