Lewis Hamilton gate-crashed Sebastian Vettel's title party when he produced a dazzling drive for McLaren to win a thrilling United States Grand Prix.
The 27-year-old Briton, who started second on the grid alongside the defending champion, made the most of his superior outright speed to pass Vettel on lap 42 and claim the 21st victory of his career yesterday.
For Vettel, it was a personal disappointment, but not enough to prevent his Red Bull team from winning the constructors title for the third successive season.
Alonso keeps title race alive
Fernando Alonso of Ferrari finished third after starting seventh on the grid -- thanks to his team's pragmatic decision to break the gearbox seal on Felipe Massa's car -- and his podium finish ensured that the title battle will go down to the wire at next weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo.
Vettel goes to Interlagos with a lead of 13 points, on 273 points compared to Alonso on 260. Hamilton, who leaves McLaren for Mercedes next year, was intent on delivering another win for the team before his departure and did so with elan as he seized his fourth win of the championship.
A podium first
Amazingly, it was the first time F1's best three drivers of the current crop had shared a podium and, to mark the Texan location, all three wore Stetson cowboy hats as they celebrated.
Interviewed by the 1978 world champion, American Mario Andretti, Hamilton said: “First-time winner! I'm so happy.
“The fans were amazing, thank you. It was such a warm welcome and one of the best, if not the best, race of the year - especially for me and the team. It's been a long time since we had a win. I'm so proud of the team and grateful for the support we've had.” Vettel said: “I did my first race, five years ago, in the United States. It's nice to come back for my 100th GP.”