<pre><pre>Lewis Hamilton did wait for the fifth title of the world championship.

At times under the Texas sun, with his foot on the ground, Lewis Hamilton pressed his case as the best performer that his fast-living sport has ever known.

But, when they finished the 56 laps of a US Grand Prix. UU That palpitaba, bit his nails and imposed on the strategy, could not join the man who called sponsor of Formula One, Juan Manuel Fangio, as a five-time world champion. Not yet.

Instead, it was a moment of dejection at Mercedes, where they made a rare mistake by bringing him in early and then keeping him out for a long time, which cost him the title that day.

There was one last wonderful duel, two laps from the end, when he fought for the second place he needed to win the title against Max Verstappen, side by side, with hearts in his mouth.

But he could not muster the extra rhythm he needed to make the brave and fighting movement stick. Hamilton finished third and we headed to Mexico for the next installment.

Kimi Raikkonen won for Ferrari, Verstappen was second and Sebastian Vettel fourth and mathematically, but nothing more, still in the pursuit of the title. He is 70 points adrift with 75 on offer.

"I thought we could do better, but we have to keep pushing in the next race," Hamilton said. "I had a lot, too far to go forward, I do not know what happened to the strategy."

It was an afternoon to induce heart failure between the partisans in the garage and the Union Jack-plad crowd that approached the Lone Star state from Britain.

First we feared for Hamilton's fate when the 33-year-old lost his first place off the grid to Raikkonen. That raised the possibility, much later confirmed, that Vettel could run from fifth to fourth and throw an unwanted number into the equation.

Nothing simple all afternoon. Vettel, who had beaten Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull for fourth place in the first round, lost his form immediately, staggered in his mind and made contact with the Australian while trying to retain the place he had just delivered. Vettel collapsed to the 15th.

Moments later, Hamilton went through some of his brightest colors, turning the screens purple, the color that denotes the sectors and fastest laps.

He had been taken to the troublesome early stop when the races were anesthetized by the Virtual Safety Car phase, deployed when Ricciardo retired, and now he was hitting the asphalt circuit of the Americans with a bravery that no other could emulate.

In the form of his life, he came straight to Raikkonen's line. To be fair, the Finn was a great adversary, fought cleanly and maintained the position of Hamilton with skill. Should Ferrari dispense with its services next season? I do not think so.

Raikkonen then took off to the pits with 21 laps passed and Hamilton led for the first time since the initial seconds out of the grid box.

Easy street from now on, then? Think again. Call your cardiologist. Hamilton's tires went off soon, as they were placed considerably earlier than the rest, on lap 11. He was suffering from bleeding in his nearest purses, led by Raikkonen.

Would it be called? Would he stay outside and try to nurse them home?

Mercedes perhaps reflected on the questions a few too long laps, when it became clear that she needed fresh glue, PDQ.

Finally, he was inside. And he left for a challenge of 19 laps. He had to close a gap of 10 seconds with Verstappen Red Bull and a deficit of 12 seconds with Raikkonen before the checkered flag was shaken.

"We have to give everything now," came the instruction of race engineer Peter Bonnington.

He painted the purple screens again. Fastest lap, fastest lap, fastest lap, fastest lap.

"How did Kimi get that far?" He asked his pit wall, fearing for his chances.

Meanwhile, Vettel was close to returning to fourth place at No. 2 Valtteri Bottas of Hamilton, who performed poorly enough to question his usefulness in the Mercedes team.

Despite Hamilton's calm as signed autographs in his merry outing of a Mercedes motorhome crowded with phone call freaks, he felt each blistered portion of his tires, every fraction of a second won and lost.

It came in a second and a little Verstappen. The first three were like a train, Hamilton's advantage of previous moments dissipated. Now it was the case of whether the tires of the two forwards, Raikkonen leading the Dutchman with the Mercedes that harassed them, would suffer with their older tires to such an extent that Hamilton could pass them in the final moments.

In fact, he did not need to pass Raikkonen to take the title. He only had to go to Verstappen, and hope that Bottas could play the role of proper gunner.

This was the distilled fight. And with five laps remaining, the Hamilton-Verstappen gap was less than a second. Hamilton gave him a chance. Verstappen was up to the task. Moments later, Vettel passed to Bottas and the drama disappeared.

A few words to congratulate Verstappen, who started 18th after a problem in the rating box. The cream rose to the top in this race.

Raikkonen, victorious for the first time since Australia in 2013, became the oldest winner of the race since Nigel Mansell in 1994.

But still, finger by finger, Hamilton is putting his fingers around the trophy.