Lewis Hamilton gate-crashed Sebastian Vettel’s title party on Sunday when he produced a dazzling drive for McLaren to win a thrilling United States Grand Prix.
The 27-year-old Briton, who started second on the grid alongside the defending champion, made the most of his superior outright speed to pass Vettel on lap 42 and claim the 21st victory of his career.
For Vettel, it was a personal disappointment, but not enough to prevent his Red Bull team from winning the constructors title for the third successive season.
Fernando Alonso of Ferrari finished third after starting seventh on the grid – thanks to his team’s pragmatic decision to break the gearbox seal on Felipe Massa’s car – and his podium finish ensured that the title battle will go down to the wire at next weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo.
Vettel goes to Interlagos with a lead of 13 points, on 273 points compared to Alonso on 260.
Hamilton, who leaves McLaren for Mercedes next year, was intent on delivering another win for the team before his departure and did so with elan to seize his fourth win this year.
Amazingly, it was the first time F1’s best three drivers of the current crop had shared a podium and, to mark the Texan location, all three wore Stetson cowboy hats as they celebrated.
Alonso, driving steadily and quickly, knew his podium position was enough to heep his title dream alive and, thanks to a superb drive from Massa, knew also that he had a Ferrari in fourth behind him to protect him in the closing laps.AFP