by H. Mayor – photo: f1.com | He can almost touch it with his own hands. The dynamics of the last few months had placed Hamilton firmly on the path to victory but this weekend in Austin has virtually sealed his fourth world title. Despite Sebastian Vettel having demonstrated to be a top competitor on the asphalt, he still falls short to dispute the title to his great rival. After a lightening start, the German driver took the lead during six exhilarating laps only to be overtaken by the Briton whom from then on, commanded the race without conceding an inch.
The contested weekend in Austin anticipated a final battle where Vettel would fiercely play his last cards. His extraordinary start, which included a complex manoeuvre on the inside, put him in the lead and opening for a while the distance with Hamilton. At the end however, it was nothing but a brief stunt in the dominance narrative that Hamilton has been signing at this decisive stretch of the season. At the sixth lap, Vettel was caught off guard and Hamilton passed him with in a seemingly effortless manoeuvre.
Strategy might have been able to turn things around further on in the race but in the end this was to be Ferrari’s best day of the last few weeks. Raikkonen put up a strong fight for third position but just as Vettel, never came close to rival Hamilton’s lead. As things are now, only a miracle could strip Lewis of his fourth title. He is now 66 points ahead with just three races to go. A fifth position in any of the remaining races will mathematically give him the Victory.
The other shining performance of the weekend was that of Carlos Sainz on board his new Renault. A solid execution which tamed Checo Perez’s Force India and won six points (seventh position) for his scuderia (anecdotally, Joylon Palmer only managed to accrue 8 points over 16 races). Felipe Massa was able to snatch the last point up for grabs after a disappointing day for Red Bull (Ricciardo’s withdrawal and Verstappen’s penalty). Finally, as it has come to be expected, an engine fault ruined a good performance from Fernando Alonso.