AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton took a big step toward a second Formula One world championship on Sunday with his 10th win of the season in a U.S. Grand Prix that saw Mercedes equal the record for one-two finishes.
The Briton stretched his lead over team mate Nico Rosberg to 24 points with two races and 75 points remaining, a gap that guarantees the title chase will go down to the final round in Abu Dhabi whatever happens in Brazil.
“It’s been an incredible run. This whole season has been incredible really,” said Hamilton after his fifth win in succession.
Rosberg started from pole position but Hamilton saw his chance and grabbed it when the German went wide into turn 12 on the 24th of 56 laps.
Hamilton went through on the inside, forcing his team mate onto the runoff on the exit in an emphatic move that left no room for reply.
“It kind of sucks but that’s the way it is,” Rosberg told former champion Mario Andretti in a podium interview with a sea of fans spilling onto the track below.
“It took too long for me to find my rhythm. Once Lewis got by I found my rhythm but it was too late.”
The pair finished 4.3 seconds apart to equal McLaren’s 1988 record, set by Alain Prost and the late Ayrton Senna, of 10 one-two finishes in a season.
Hamilton is only the third driver and first non-German, after Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, to win 10 races in a single season.
He is the third Briton, after Jim Clark and Nigel Mansell, to win five in a row and is now also his country’s most successful in terms of wins with 32.
“It is such a privilege to represent my country and to be top of the drivers’ standings. The car was great today,” said the race winner.
Hamilton’s second victory in Austin came six years to the day since he won his first world title in Brazil in 2008.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo finished third for Red Bull in a result that mathematically ruled him out of a title battle that is now a straight duel between the Mercedes drivers.
Hamilton has 316 points to Rosberg’s 292.
Behind the top three, Williams pulled further away from Ferrari in the constructors’ championship already won by Mercedes with fourth and fifth places for Brazilian Felipe Massa and Finland’s Valtteri Bottas respectively.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was sixth and Red Bull’s Vettel, the quadruple champion and last year’s winner who started from the pit lane due to an engine penalty, took seventh after making up seven places in the last seven laps.
McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen was eighth, ahead of Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne for Toro Rosso. Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado collected his first point of the season in 10th place for Lotus.
Sauber’s hopes of a first point of a nightmare season, after Adrian Sutil had qualified 10th, disappeared when the German was shunted out on the first lap by Force India’s Sergio Perez.
The incident, with the wrecked Sauber left stranded and thousands of Mexican fans disappointed to see Perez retire, brought out the safety car for two laps as marshals cleared up debris strewn across the track.
Perez’s team mate Nico Hulkenberg also retired later on.
Editing by Martyn Herman and Frank Pingue