US Grand Prix: Hamilton sets up tense F1 finale with Rosberg
British driver is just 26 points behind his German teammate with three races left, as Mercedes wait for the 'volcano' to erupt
The F1 title race is back on after Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory at the US Grand Prix to cut his rival Nico Rosberg's lead in the drivers' championship to just 26 points with three races remaining this season.
The British driver, who started on pole, controlled the race to finish in front of his German teammate, who came in second after a battle with Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull.
"Hamilton's long-awaited and much-needed victory halts the momentum Rosberg had built up since the summer break, since which the German has taken four victories in five races," says Andrew Benson of the BBC. "An excellent pole position was followed by a solid start, a lead into the first corner and a dominant victory, in which he lost the lead only through the first pit-stop period."
But despite his return to form, the Mercedes driver "is still up against it", says Benson. "The mathematics of the championship situation are that Rosberg is still able to tie up the title by finishing second to Hamilton in the final three races."
However, Hamilton's win means that Rosberg "can now feel the hot breath of his Mercedes team-mate on his neck", says Kevin Eason of The Times.
"This was Hamilton's 50th grand prix victory, which places him third on the all-time list behind only Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost. Suddenly, a fourth championship does not seem so impossible and this one is not over until the fat lady sings."
With tensions mounting, Mercedes are once again fearful that their two drivers could fall out with each other once again, and team boss Toto Wolff "remains wary of a late-season 'volcano' erupting", reports James Galloway of Sky Sports.
"Although Mercedes's management have this year had to contend with two of the biggest flashpoints of the four-year Hamilton-Rosberg partnership, when the drivers took each other out in Spain and then collided on the final lap in Austria, Wolff says the situation is currently relatively harmonious.
"However, with the stakes only set to get higher with the world title on the line in the season's final three races, the Mercedes motorsport boss is not taking anything for granted."