AUSTIN, TEXAS, USA (NOVEMBER 18, 2012) (FOM) - The Formula One title battle between Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari'sFernando Alonso will go down to the wire in Brazil after McLaren's Lewis Hamilton won the U.S. Grand Prix on Sunday (November 18).
Championship leader Vettel finished second after starting his 100th career F1 race on pole position while Alonso remained in contention with third place and is now 13 points adrift of the German with one race left.
While Vettel was denied a third straight title, Red Bull were able to celebrate the constructors' title - becoming only the fourth team in the 62 year history of the sport to take the championship three years in a row.
"I'm very happy today for the team in particular," Vettel said. "We won the constructors' championship so thanks to all of you it has been a great year now we've got another station coming up in Brazil and as you said I think in terms of championship it's looking a bit better after the race today.
"Obviously it was a close fight with Lewis, he had one chance and he took it."
Vettel need finish only fourth in the Sao Paulo finale to take the title but the weather at Interlagos can be fickle and the wily and consistent Alonso cannot be ruled out for what would also be his third title.
Hamilton, winner of the last U.S. Grand Prix staged in the United States five years ago, had been second at the start with Alonso lining up seventh.
The Spaniard would have started eighth but Brazilian Felipe Massa took a five-place penalty to move his Ferrari team mate to the clean side of the grid.
"I'm so happy. The fans have been amazing this weekend so thank you so much," said the 2008 champion, wearing a cowboy hat on the podium, who is moving to Mercedes at the end of the season. "The warm welcome we've had has been fantastic and I think this is probably one of the best if not the best Grand Prix we've had and especially for me and my team this is so special.
"It's been a long, long time since I had a win and I'm just so proud. So proud of the work the guys did, so grateful for the support we've had."
While Vettel and Red Bull team mate Mark Webber got away quickly, Alonso made his move and was fourth after the first corner.
The Spaniard was gifted another spot on lap 17 when Webber retired with an alternator problem in a worrying development for Red Bull.
Needing to finish fourth or better to keep Vettel from clinching the title if the German won the race, Alonso kept his Ferrari near the top of the leaderboard for the entire race while Massa finished fourth.
"We really enjoy and we really have to say a big thanks for all the fans coming here; all the Americans, the Mexicans and all of the South Americans that came out to support us," Alonso said.
"The circuit is amazing and the layout is an interesting challenge for us, challenging for the engineers but as I said we enjoy racing here. Thanks to the fans, thanks to the fantastic facilities and I hope we put a good show for everybody and people will enjoy even more next year."