US GP: Lewis Hamilton on the brink of history
Hamilton to start on pole; Mercedes driver will be crowned champion if he out-scores Vettel by eight points
By Pete Gill and James Galloway in Austin
Last Updated: 04/12/18 4:43pm
Lewis Hamilton stands on the brink of history in Sunday's US GP as the Mercedes driver closes in on a fifth world championship.
Hamilton will start the race from pole position after just edging out Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel by less than a tenth of a second.
The Mercedes driver will be crowned champion if he out-scores Vettel - who will be demoted to fifth on the grid - by eight points or more.
"I've just got to go out and do what l love doing," reflected Hamilton.
Only two drivers - Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio - have previously secured a fifth championship in the history of F1.
But despite standing on the cusp of a landmark achievement, Hamilton has maintained a calm and relaxed demeanour since his arrival in Texas.
"I don't know why that is the case. In some respects it is kind of scary," Hamilton told Sky F1. "But the experience definitely helps - l am the third-oldest driver here.
"I know what l need to do when l get out there."
The Englishman is also wary of the threat posed by a Ferrari team which has rediscovered its pace and poise.
"They were obviously very quick," said Hamilton. "This weekend, we're pretty much on a par performance-wise.
"As Seb said, they've gone back on some of their potential updates and the car is better in the sweet spot and for us, we've not brought updates here so we're on max downforce level here
"That's great to see us so close and still I'm hopeful for the future to have more teams, more qualifyings like that, that are closer, but with more cars involved, that's got to be the ultimate goal for Formula 1."
Mercedes and Ferrari agree: Nothing won yet
Were Hamilton to convert pole position into a fifth US GP win in succession, Vettel would need to finish at least second to take the title fight on to Mexico next week.
The German's grid penalty has complicated that task, but Mercedes remain adamant that the championship is far from won yet.
"Since a few days you guys have been talking us up and saying 'this is almost done' and 'he has a hand on the trophy'. You either have the trophy in your hands or you don't - and we don't," stressed Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.
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"I know from the points we are looking solid, but everything can happen in this sport. Ferrari have come back strong, it is what we expected, and that's why I'd like to keep all options open for tomorrow [with tactics]."
And Ferrari themselves, buoyed by a relative return to form on Saturday, have vowed to attack the race with the goal of winning it.
Vettel told Sky F1: "Anything can happen. We want to win. It would be better to start first but that's not our position. It would be better to start second, but that's not going to be our position. So we start fifth and go from there.
"I'm fairly open-minded. It's a long race, hopefully we have got good pace and then anything can happen."
Will Lewis Hamilton clinch a fifth F1 world title at the United States GP? The race begins at 7.10pm on Sunday with build-up from 5.30pm. Get Sky Sports F1.