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Lewis Hamilton wins the Unites States Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton moved closer to securing his fourth drivers’ championship after taking victory in Austin, while Max Verstappen was demoted to fourth. Lewis Hamilton took one look at Sebastian Vettel and decided, in the finest old Texan tradition, that this town was not big enough for the both of them. Ever since the United States Grand Prix moved to Austin in 2012, he has been the fastest draw in the West, winning five of six races here, but few were so cathartic or so precious as this. Surging 66 points clear of Sebastian Vettel with just 75 left to play for, Hamilton is now close enough to a fourth world title to taste it.

The formal investiture will take place, in all likelihood, in Mexico City next Sunday, after Hamilton delivered another foot-to-the-floor master class to remove any vestige of doubt about where this championship is heading. Vettel was cussed as always, overtaking Hamilton on the opening lap, but the balance of power was restored just moments later as the man of the hour pulled off a sumptuous pass. “I was surprised,” he said, pointedly, “that Sebastian didn’t defend more.”

He was handed a pair of running shoes atop the podium by Usain Bolt, with whom he performed the Jamaican’s ‘To Di World’ victory pose. It was an apt juxtaposition. When the two of them perform at their best, their opponents do not see them for dust. This was a procession under cornflower Texas skies, as Hamilton dominated on a circuit that he has made his own. Vettel, alas, fell victim to a misguided Ferrari strategy. In Japan, it was a spark plug problem, and in Austin it was a question of bungled tactics. Having been sent to the pits twice, while Hamilton settled for one stop, he fell back to fourth, behind both Valtteri Bottas and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

A flustered Vettel did all he could to repair the damage, sweeping past Bottas with an audacity that evoked Nigel Mansell in his prime, while Raikkonen moved out of the way like a dutiful No2 driver. Even so, the matter of Hamilton’s coronation is not one of if, but when. “I’m enjoying driving more than ever,” he said. “The pressure is intense, but I always want to elevate myself each time I get in the car.

Hamilton’s mother, Carmen, and his brother, Nicolas, were both trackside in Austin to savour this latest demolition act. They would be well-advised to book their hotels for Mexico next weekend, where the party can begin in earnest. Only a Hamilton retirement – and he has not exited a race prematurely since Malaysia 2016 – can delay the glory now. “I feel amazing,” he said. “This was a beautiful day. I think this is now my favourite track. It’s a dream job, the best feeling in the world.”

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