Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen steal Lewis Hamilton's thunder in Austin

Formula One World Championship

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.

But instead of starting Sunday's race from second with a real chance to make it a fight, Vettel will start from fifth because of a three-spot grid penalty issued Friday when race officials said the German drove too fast while under a red flag in a practice session.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton's only title rival, finished fourth after recovering from an early spin on the opening lap.

Despite posting the sixth fastest time of the day, Hartley will start in dead last on the grid, while Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton will lead the pack as he looks to seal the driver's championship.

The German made contact with Ricciardo's Red Bull vehicle at turn 13 as the pair were battling for fourth place, before spinning out and dropping into 15th.

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Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari qualified at second position with a time of 1:32.298 minutes while his team mate Kimi Raikkonen took the third position with a time of 1:32.307 minutes. We are close and I felt good with the auto.

Mexico next weekend. Not a year ago a circuit where Mercedes excelled, Hamilton needs to score five more points than Vettel to be champion.

Raikkonen: "It has been a great weekend". He was on a slightly better tire than us at the end, so naturally a bit of a struggle.

Hamilton, who raced Verstappen hard in the final laps but was unable to seize second place, said Mercedes had done the best it could with the tire wear it had experienced.

Hamilton is now 70 points ahead of Vettel, who passed Valtteri Bottas to finish fourth in the closing stages, with 75 remaining.

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Hamilton, meanwhile, bore down on Raikkonen, applying maximum pressure to relieve the Ferrari driver of the lead. By Lap 35 the damage looked severe, and what was once an nearly 18-second advantage was whittled down to just eight seconds.

Hamilton will clinch his fifth drivers' title if he can outscore Vettel by eight points.

"There's been some races when I haven't been able to do better so I'm happy I could today". Getting around that group and still keeping Hamilton close will be hard.

Asked if Mercedes was too conservative with strategy in Austin in the hope that he would get the result he needed for the title on Sunday, Hamilton said: "There was that feeling with the performance and the decisions that were taken today, as opposed to previous races, but I didn't think we needed to make many changes [to our approach]".

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