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Hamilton takes 50th career win to keep F1 title hopes alive

us gp

Lewis Hamilton cut his championship points deficit to Nico Rosberg as he cruised to a comfortable victory in the United States Grand Prix.

Hamilton’s first win since the German Grand Prix in July puts him 26 points behind his Mercedes team-mate with 75 available in the remaining three races.

Rosberg finished second after recovering a position lost to Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo at the start.

The Australian finished third ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

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That’s better: Hamilton had not won since the German Grand Prix in July

The world champion has now won 50 races in his career, with only Alain Prost (51) and Michael Schumacher (91) having won more than that number in the history of the sport.

  • Read more: How many goals have England scored across Hamilton’s 50 race wins?

Hamilton still has work to do

Hamilton’s long-awaited and much-needed victory halts the momentum Rosberg had built up since the summer break, since which the German has taken four victories in five races.

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But the Englishman is still up against it – the mathematics of the championship situation are that Rosberg is still able to tie up the title by finishing second to Hamilton in the final three races – Mexico next weekend, and then Brazil and Abu Dhabi.

But Hamilton can only do what is within his control, and he grabbed this weekend by the scruff of the neck from first practice and never let go.

An excellent pole position was followed by a solid start, a lead into the first corner and a dominant victory, in which he lost the lead only through the first pit-stop period.

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Hamilton has now won five times in the United States, sharing that accomplishment with only one other – Michael Schumacher. Source: Forix

“All I can do is do my best,” said Hamilton. “Nico has been driving fantastically well all season but I will keep going.”

Luck still going Rosberg’s way

Rosberg also made a decent start, but his focus on Hamilton into the first corner gave Ricciardo the chance to challenge the Mercedes driver and the Red Bull took second around the outside of the fast kink of Turn Two.

Ricciardo held a de facto second through the first pit stop period, and then made an early final pit stop for medium tyres on lap 25 of 56.

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Ricciardo celebrates another successful attempt to get a celebrity – this time Gerard Butler – to drink from his shoe on the podium

He would have hoped to get second place back from Rosberg when the German made his second and final pit stops a few laps later.

But then Ricciardo’s team-mate Max Verstappen suffered a gearbox failure.

That brought out the virtual safety car for more than a lap as the marshals recovered the Red Bull and that gave the Mercedes team a chance to get a “free” pit stop for both cars, and allowed Rosberg to retain second place.

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Lewis Hamilton was a guest on the American talkshow programme The Ellen Degeneres Show earlier this week

Ricciardo expressed his frustration in swear words over the radio but realised there was nothing he could do.

Verstappen calls in, but no-one’s home

Verstappen had been running fourth until he made a pit stop by mistake on lap 26, thinking in error that the team had called him in. The mechanics were not ready for him and he was delayed by some time as they scrambled to service the car.

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Erm, tyres, anyone? Max Verstappen comes into the pits unannounced, leaving his crew frantically scrambling

It dropped the Dutchman to sixth but it became academic when the gearbox failed three laps later.

Gun control – or lack of

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was on course to take fifth behind Vettel, but the team’s decision to put him on a three-stop strategy with a third stint on super-soft tyres ultimately led to his demise.

As he left the pits for the final time, the team told him to stop because a wheel was not attached properly as a result of a cross-thread wheel nut, which would have led to disqualification.

Ferrari were fined £4,500 for an unsafe release.

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Alonso shows his skills

Behind the big three teams, there was an epic battle for fifth place in the closing laps between Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz, Williams’ Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso’s McLaren.

Sainz was nursing fading tyres and held off pressure from Massa and Alonso for a number of laps.

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Alonso has pulled off some stunning starts this season

Massa made no attempt to attack the Toro Rosso but things changed when Alonso grabbed sixth place from Massa with an opportunistic move at Turn 15 with four laps to go after the Brazilian locked a wheel.

The two did touch during the move, however, Massa getting a slow puncture but holding on to seventh place. The incident was investigated after the race by stewards, but no further action was taken.

Alonso then set out after Sainz and closed the two-second gap within a little over a lap and was on to his compatriot and friend’s tail with a lap and a half to go. A move into the first corner was defended by Sainz but Alonso then dived for the inside into Turn 12 and took the place.

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Alonso ran wide on the exit but Sainz was unable to take advantage and fifth place was his. “Yee-hah,” Alonso cried over the radio in delight.

His team-mate Jenson Button made a strong start to run 11th on the first lap from 19th on the grid, but he was well off the Spaniard’s pace – regularly lapping well over half a second slower – and finished ninth behind Force India’s Sergio Perez.

US Grand Prix results

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Mercedes have now won three times in the United States, equalling the achievements of BRM, who won with Graham Hill in the mid 1960s. Source: Forix

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Rosberg could win the title next week in Mexico if he wins and Hamilton fails to score a point

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In a BBC Sport poll, 51% thought it was a right to outlaw moving under braking – with 49% disagreeing – after Verstappen’s aggressive racing caused F1 bosses to act this weekend

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Red Bull were paid a visit from skateboarder Ryan Sheckler – but did they clock the Mercedes tattoo on the right knee?

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“Can you put me down, please?” Hamilton’s dog made an appearance in the paddock

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Publicity stuntman: Daniel Ricciardo played tribute to Evel Knievel with his helmet design

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Tennis star Venus Williams was spotted among celebrities on the grid

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/37746926