Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel kept his drivers' championship hopes alive during Sunday's 2018 Formula One United States Grand Prix, with his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen winning the race and the German finishing in fourth place to stop Lewis Hamilton from claiming the title.
The Mercedes man appeared to be on his way to the championship when his closest rival Vettel spun out early—Hamilton needed to outscore his rival by eight points to claim his fifth world title.
However, Ferrari's tactics proved superior, as Hamilton was forced into a second pit stop that saw Raikkonen and Max Verstappen move ahead of him.
Vettel got past Valtteri Bottas late to seal fourth and score 12 points to Hamilton's 15 for his third-place finish. For Raikkonen, the win was long overdue, as he had failed to win in his last 113 tries.
While Ferrari celebrated the win, Hamilton increased his drivers' championship lead over Vettel to 70 points. With a maximum of 75 points still available, the German needs a miracle to get past his rival.
Here is the final result:
Raikkonen made a perfect start to the race and soared past Hamilton into the lead in Turn 1, while Vettel just about managed to keep his spot after he was forced wide. The German and Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo soon engaged in a battle, and disaster struck for the Ferrari driver, as he made contact and spun.
There was even more chaos in the background, with Fernando Alonso and Romain Grosjean both ducking into the pit lane for repairs after clashes with Lance Stroll and Charles Leclerc, respectively. Alonso and Grosjean were forced to retire from the race, whereas Leclerc pulled out later on.
All eyes were on Vettel, however, who dropped to 15th place to put Hamilton in a virtual title-winning position.
The German has had several similar incidents in the second half of the year, and ITV's Alastair Stewart had some advice for the Ferrari man:
Verstappen made up ground in the confusion, while Raikkonen quickly built a solid lead on the faster tyre and Hamilton put some distance between himself and Bottas.
Ricciardo had solid pace early, but once again, his Red Bull didn't last long:
The virtual safety car gave Hamilton the chance to pit for fresh rubber―ignoring a dummy from Raikkonen―but neither Ferrari followed suit.
Bottas moved out of the way for Hamilton to put his team-mate back into second place, with the Brit running much faster than Raikkonen. Vettel moved up to fifth but had 10 seconds to make up on Verstappen in fourth.
Raikkonen managed to hold off Hamilton's attack briefly before pitting himself, while a flying Verstappen got ahead of Bottas. Vettel moved into second but still had to pit, and he moved over for his team-mate on the fresher rubber. He pitted shortly after and emerged in fifth place.
The German had quite a bit of time to make up on Bottas in fourth:
Hamilton's tyres had a fair bit of wear on them, however, and the question turned to whether he would pit a second time. His lap times worsened significantly, and the championship leader had no choice but to pit to go on soft tyres.
It set up a fantastic scenario in which Hamilton hunted down Verstappen and Vettel did the same to Bottas, with both eyeing moves to either win the championship or keep it alive.
Raikkonen's pace also dropped, leaving the door open for Verstappen to win:
With DRS coming into play in the final laps, Hamilton launched his attack on Verstappen, but the Brit ran wide and lost his opportunity. Vettel got past Bottas, though, ensuring the title battle would move on to Mexico even if Hamilton could make another move stick. The defending champion backed off, however.
Verstappen didn't have quite enough to overtake the Finn, and Raikkonen ended his long wait for an F1 win.
The F1 season will continue next Sunday with the Mexican GP, and Hamilton will only need a seventh-place finish to seal the 2018 drivers' crown.