Lewis Hamilton can win his fifth world title tonight if he finishes eight points above Sebastian Vettel.
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The Brit’s ideal scenario will be to secure the Drivers’ Championship with his 10th race win of the season – but that will need to come coupled with Vettel finishing third or below.
Hamilton will start from pole position after wrapping up the fastest lap in qualifying.
But Vettel, who was marginally slower than his Mercedes rival, will incur a three-place grid penalty for speeding during a red flag in practice, so he has been pushed down to fifth.
His Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen joins Hamilton on the front row, while Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo complete the top four.
And Hamilton was delighted to secure his spot at the front of the grid.
“That was very important. That was close,” he said after qualification.
“I didn’t know how close it was going to be once we got to qualifying but obviously when we went into that last run I knew it would be quite edgy between us and it would require quite solid laps.”
US Grand Prix LIVE – Race start 7.10pm
6.45pm: A quick reminder of how the top 10 will line up; Hamilton, Raikkonen, Bottas, Ricciardo, Vettel, Ocon, Hulkenberg, Grosjean, Leclerc, Perez
6.40pm: Mercedes are pinning their hopes on Valtteri Bottas overtaking Kimi Raikkonen early on to try and slow down the chasing pack.
Team boss Toto Wolff also says he would not be afraid of telling the Finn to give up his position if he finds himself ahead of Hamilton.
“The objective of Valtteri is to go for it at the beginning,” said Toto Wolff. “He hasn’t got a lot to lose and can show a strong race.”
“We have been discussing that and struggling so much with the decision.
“Eventually when it comes on Sunday, I probably would go for the points but in my heart I hate it. Let’s see how Sunday goes.”
6.30pm: Sebastian Vettel has just spoken on his way to the grid and he is still targeting a win tonight while also hoping team-mate Kimi Raikkonen can slow the Brit down on the opening lap.
“If [Raikkonen] can get a good start then maybe he can be a challenge,” Vettel said.
“For me it is pretty clear, I know I need to win. Unfortunatly it depends a lot on what Lewis is doing.
“For me, I am still racing for the Championship so I need to win.”
6.15pm: Mercedes had a slight worry an hour ago as they raced to change the water pumps on both of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas’ cars after a leak was found.
The new pumps have been replaced by “old, proven pumps of the same spec.”
Meanwhile, Max Versappen has had a new gearbox fitted after it broke during Q1 yesterday.
The Dutchman will incur a five-place grid penalty so will start from 18th.
6pm: Good evening and welcome to the Circuit of the Americas where Lewis Hamilton can equal Juan Manuel Fangio’s record of five world titles.
The Brit can also take his tally to within two of the legendary Michael Schumacher’s record – but first he must fend off the challenge of Ferrari who looked to have turned a corner this weekend.
The Prancing Horse were quicker in FP3 and they came close to snatching pole position themselves in qualifying.
But Sebastian Vettel’s grid penalty means he must fight his way from fifth on the grid – but if he can climb to second it will postpone Hamilton’s celebrations.
Stay tuned to stay on top of all the action here in Texas.