Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, centre, after qualifying for the US Grand Prix with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, left, and Mercedes team-mate Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Picture: JEROME MIRON-USA TODAY SPORTS
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, centre, after qualifying for the US Grand Prix with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, left, and Mercedes team-mate Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Picture: JEROME MIRON-USA TODAY SPORTS

Austin — Lewis Hamilton moved a step closer to his fourth world championship on Sunday when he won the United States Grand Prix, coming home ahead of his nearest title rival Sebastian Vettel.

The 32-year-old Briton, who started from a record 72nd pole position, recovered after losing his advantage at the start to regain the lead and steer his Mercedes to his ninth win this year, his fifth in Texas and the 62nd of his career.

Four-time champion Vettel came home second for Ferrari and with three races remaining trails Hamilton by 66 points in the drivers’ title race.

Hamilton now needs to finish only fifth in Mexico next weekend to claim a fourth world title.

"We had a beautiful day. I love this track. I think this track is now my favourite," said Hamilton.

Hamilton’s victory, with Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas finishing fifth, confirmed the team as constructors’ champions for 2017 and for the fourth consecutive season.

"At the start it was looking good but quickly we realised we couldn’t do the same pace as Lewis. Overall not the result we wanted," said Vettel.

Dutchman Max Verstappen crossed the line in third place after a controversial final corner passing move that saw his Red Bull car run off track as he swept beyond Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari.

The move was investigated immediately by the stewards who gave Verstappen, who had already gone to the podium ceremony waiting room, a five-second penalty that cost him third and lifted Raikkonen back to third for Ferrari.

All this meant that Verstappen finished fourth ahead of Bottas, Frenchman Esteban Ocon of Force India and Spaniard Carlos Sainz — who finished seventh on his debut with Renault after his move from Toro Rosso.

Brazilian Felipe Massa finished ninth for Williams and Russian Daniil Kvyat 10th in the second Toro Rosso.

AFP

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