US GP: The numbers behind Kimi Raikkonen's record-breaking victory

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Ferrari driver Vettel needs to prevent Hamilton out-scoring him by eight points in Sunday's United States Grand Prix if he is to keep his title challenge alive.

After Vettel made his own stop on Lap 26, the race entered a stage of strategic tension, with Ferrari adamant that Hamilton would have to make a second stop, which would hand Raikkonen back the race lead.

Given his third-place finish Hamilton needed Vettel to finish seventh or lower to secure the title.

The passing years have not mellowed the outspoken Canadian's views on Schumacher, the man he beat to the 1997 world championship in controversial circumstances, and he has pulled no punches in claiming Hamilton is already a greater world champion. Renault's Nico Hulkenburg finished sixth with his team mate Carlos Sainz in 7th. "But I was pretty happy with the laps I had".

"It's about getting the best possible race result and if it doesn't happen tomorrow, for us, then we will try again in Mexico and try and get one step closer". "It should have been a better day", said Vettel.

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"I'm very happy where I'm going". Tough weeks for the team and the tough times don't seem to be stopping for me.

"I actually thought we would have been able to do better but this is the best we were able to do in the end", said Hamilton. "If it comes, it comes; if it doesn't, it really doesn't change my life one bit".

Vettel was under pressure from the beginning.

"These guys (Ferrari)!. I didn't know how close it would be".

The reigning champion was quicker than Ferrari rival Kimi Raikkonen (+0.070s) and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas (+0.379s) at the Circuit of the Americas.

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"Certainly my competitive side will always believe that I'm the best and that in that auto I can do the same thing, yadda-ya", he said.

The stewards' decision, made in wet conditions, had reduced Vettel's slim title chances according to Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene and means that he can not start on the front row of the grid for a race in which he knows another Mercedes one-two will give Hamilton his fifth drivers' title.

They shadowboxed until Lap 54, when Hamilton attempted to launch a move for second place in the final sector.

Only Raikkonen ran on ultra-soft tyres, on which he will start the race while the rest will be on their more-durable 'supers, enabling greater tactical flexibility for the first part of the race. He started fifth because of a three-spot grid penalty for driving too fast while under a red flag during a Friday practice.

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But it was delayed because no Saudi official was present for the joint investigation, the Turkish official added. In contrast to the president's cautious words, Graham offered a fiery critic of Saudi Arabia.

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