Lewis Hamilton just failed to clinch a fifth world title when he finished third in a thrilling US Grand Prix.

Mercedes let a victory slip through their fingers by delaying a second pit stop and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen took his first victory for more than five years.

Hamilton’s title rival and Raikkonen’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel looked to have handed Hamilton the title early on when he spun battling with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen also beat Hamilton, who will have to wait until the race in Mexico next weekend to have another chance of clinching the title.

He leaves Austin, Texas, with a 70-point lead over Vettel, who eventually finished fourth, with 75 available over the remaining three grands prix.

In a tense finish, Raikkonen, Verstappen and Hamilton were nose to tail and the Mercedes driver failed in his one opportunity to pass the Dutchman with three laps to go.

As it happened, even doing that would not have been enough to clinch the title for Hamilton, as Vettel passed the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas for fourth place on the penultimate lap.

Hamilton lost the lead at the start to Raikkonen, who used his softer tyres to out-accelerate the Mercedes and pass into the first corner.

But Hamilton and Mercedes appeared to grab back the initiative when they decided to pit under an early virtual safety car period on lap 11, when the cars are controlled to a certain lap time.

That saved Hamilton 10 seconds over a stop under racing conditions and he was on Raikkonen’s tail within eight laps.

But although he had a big lead when Raikkonen stopped, it soon became apparent Hamilton would have to stop again, unlike his rivals who stopped later, as his rear tyres began to blister.

But Mercedes left it too long to bring him in for a second stop, waiting at least five laps, in which time he ran into both traffic and grip problems and Verstappen joined Raikkonen in being close enough behind to ensure they would be ahead when Hamilton pitted again.

Once rejoining the race, Hamilton queried both the delay and the tyre choice Mercedes made, to take the softs rather than the super-softs Verstappen had taken.

And sure enough, although he closed in on Raikkonen and Verstappen, he was unable to go by.

His best chance came on a thrilling lap 54, with two to go, as he raced side by side, switching back and looking for the advantage, through five corners with Verstappen, only to run wide at Turn 18 and lose his chance.

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