Champagne on ice for Hamilton as Kimi rolls back years

Formula One World Championship

Formula One World Championship

Ferrari driver Vettel needs to prevent Hamilton out-scoring him by eight points in Sunday's United States Grand Prix if he is to keep his title challenge alive.

Mercedes' Hamilton took pole by a narrow margin ahead of his only remaining title rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.

The victory was the 21st of the 39-year-old Finn's career and the first since the Australian Grand Prix of March 2013, a gap of 113 races dating back to when he was racing for Lotus. "The tires were not in the best shape, but I think they were a bit similar to Max's".

"It was a great battle".

"That's great to see us so close and still I'm hopeful for the future to have more teams, more qualifyings like that, that are closer, but with more cars involved".

Vettel took too long to react to the red flags and, in addition to his costly grid penalty, the German was also slapped with two points on his licence.

"We made the right call to undercut Valtteri (Bottas), and then we did our own race".

"As Seb [Vettel] said, they've gone back on some of their potential updates and the auto is better in the sweet spot and for us, we've not brought updates here so we're on max downforce level here".

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"I thought we'd be able to do better, but this is the best we could do in the end", he conceded. Ferrari picked up their game this weekend.

Hamilton, he said, was completely different.

Title leader Hamilton, starting on the supersoft tires, lost out to the ultrasoft-shod Raikkonen at the start. After being punted out of the race by Williams' Lance Stroll, the Spaniard said: "These guys are impossible to race with, just crashing into corners".

Romain Grosjean and Charles Leclerc also tangled, with the former retiring from the race and the latter making it to lap 33 before ending his afternoon in the garage.

He then pitted early during a virtual safety auto period but had to make two pitstops to his rivals' one, losing time on fading tires before being called in.

Due to Vettel's penalty, the man who will line up alongside Hamilton on the front row is.Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

But Hamilton was losing time and pitted in the 38th lap with his tires blistering, coming out in fourth place, though quickly set the fastest lap as he looked to chase Raikkonen down again.

The stewards' decision, made in wet conditions, had reduced Vettel's slim title chances according to Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene and means that he can not start on the front row of the grid for a race in which he knows another Mercedes one-two will give Hamilton his fifth drivers' title. Hamilton still has a commanding 70-point lead over Sebastian Vettel, with just 75 points available.

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