Hamilton dominates in Austin as title moves into view

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Lewis Hamilton's charge towards the Formula One world title continued apace on Saturday as the championship leader stormed to pole position at the United States Grand Prix.

Hamilton has taken 118 points from a possible 125 across the last five races and could wrap up a fourth crown if things go his way in Austin on Sunday.

He gave himself the best chance of a ninth race win of the year by qualifying fastest, his Mercedes dominating for a third successive day in Texas.

An 11th pole of 2017 moved the Briton onto 72 in his career, while a time of 1:33:108 saw him finish two tenths faster than championship rival Sebastian Vettel, who joins him on the front row.

Hamilton was fastest in all three sessions on Saturday and continued to push the lap record at the Circuit of the Americas to new levels in another emphatic display.

"The team have done a great job," he said. "The track was very difficult with the wind. It's going to be a great race."

After two retirements and a fourth-place finish in his last three races, Vettel needs a big improvement on Sunday if he is to slow Hamilton down.

Behind the two title rivals, Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas leads the way, with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo out-qualifying Max Verstappen.

The Dutchman had to settle for sixth, with Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari separating them.

Esteban Ocon, Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez complete the top 10, Alonso having snuck into Q3 with a fine late run in the second session.

There was disappointment for Haas at their home grand prix, with Romain Grosjean qualifying 14th and Kevin Magnussen last.

Both will move up, though, with Nico Hulkenberg, Brendon Hartley and Stoffel Vandoorne all facing grid penalties for the race.

 

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:33.108
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:33.347
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 1:33.568
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 1:33.577
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 1:33.577
6. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:33.658
7. Esteban Ocon (Force India) 1:34.647
8. Carlos Sainz (Renault) 1:34.852
9. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) 1:35.007
10. Sergio Perez (Force India) 1:35.148