Hamilton edges out Vettel in Texas
The fight for this year's Formula One world title between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso will go down to the wire in Brazil next Sunday.
Vettel was forced to settle for second in Sunday's United States Grand Prix, a race that was a stunning advert for F1 in America, behind the brilliant Lewis Hamilton, who conjured the 21st win of his career.
Crucially, with Fernando Alonso third, it means there is now a 13-point gap between the Spaniard and Vettel heading to the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos next week.
It was not the race Red Bull expected, however, because although the 15 points from Vettel's runner-up spot mean they are constructors' champions for a third consecutive grands prix, there was little celebration on the pit wall.
It was also not the 100th grands prix Vettel was expecting either as the 25-year-old German had been flawless in practice and qualifying around the £250million purpose-built Circuit of The Americas on the outskirts of Austin. But it was a thoroughly deserved victory for Hamilton, who was robbed of wins in Singapore and Abu Dhabi as he suffered mechanical issues when leading.
All the talk immediately before the race, however, had centred on a seemingly controversial move from Ferrari in deciding to break a seal on the gearbox of Felipe Massa's car. In doing so, it immediately incurred a five-place grid penalty for the Brazilian, dropping him from sixth to 11th. More importantly it promoted Alonso on to the clean side of the grid from eighth to seventh, giving him better traction at the start as the dirty side had been the described as potentially like starting "in the wet" by Massa.
It was a clever tactical move from Ferrari and it proved crucial because emerging out of the signature uphill turn one Alonso had gained three places to climb to fourth behind a Red Bull one-two. Unsurprisingly Hamilton, on the dirty side, lost second place to Mark Webber as Sebastian Vettel was away and clear from the 36th pole position of his career.
Hamilton eased his way past Webber on lap six that signalled a stunning battle between the Briton and Vettel as they went head-to-head and wheel-to-wheel at one stage. Ahead of the first round of pit stops Alonso's cause was further assisted when Webber was forced to retire on lap 17 as yet another alternator failure to afflict a Red Bull saw him grind to a halt.
On lap 42 of the 56 Hamilton finally managed to get close enough to Vettel to execute a manoeuvre into turn 12, the duo inches apart at one stage before Hamilton made the move stick and held on for the win.
Alonso was a staggering 40 seconds down the road and was followed by Massa and Jenson Button, fifth in his McLaren after starting from 12th, followed by the Lotus' of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.