Formula One: Lewis Hamilton's championship title victory on hold as Kimi Raikkonen wins US Grand Prix

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen won an enthralling U.S. Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton missed out on an opportunity to clinch the title at the Circuit of the Americas on Sunday.

Hamilton needed to outscore title rival Sebastian Vettel by eight points to secure the title, but a combination of race strategy and brilliant drives by Raikkonen and Max Verstappen ahead
deprived him of the points gap he needed and left him third at the finish. Although Vettel is still mathematically in the title hunt, it had nothing to do with his own race as he spun out on the opening lap trying to pass Daniel Ricciardo and had to recover from 15th to fourth.

Regardless of the championship situation, however, the U.S. Grand Prix offered up one of the most exciting races of the year. At the chequered flag the top three were split by just 2.3s, with three different cars on three different strategies all in the running for victory. Hamilton, who started from pole but lost the lead to Raikkonen in the first corner, was the aggressor on a two-stop strategy after pitting on lap 11 under a Virtual Safety Car, but somehow the race just kept slipping away from him.

When Hamilton pitted from second under the Virtual Safety Car it looked like a no-lose situation and an opportunity to put pressure on Raikkonen ahead, but Mercedes had not banked on Verstappen coming through the field from 18th on the grid. Verstappen's strategy had left him on softer tyres for his final stint but they were also 15 laps older than Hamilton's in the final 19 laps of the race. Conventional wisdom dictates that Hamilton should have had a pace advantage from his fresher, more durable rubber to overtake Verstappen, but despite a thrilling battle it wasn't quite enough.

Hamilton's opportunity came two laps from the finish when he got a better exit out of Turn 15, but Verstappen hung him out to dry through Turn 16 and Turn 17, forcing Hamilton out into the run-off area. At the time he would have secured the title with the move, although a lap later Vettel took fourth place from Bottas at Turn 13, giving him the position he needed to stay in the title even if Hamilton had secured second.

Vettel now needs to take 20 points out of Hamilton's title lead in Mexico in order for the title race to continue to the penultimate round in Brazil, otherwise the title is over.


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