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Hamilton surprised Vettel didn't put up more of a defence

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Hamilton edges closer to a fourth World title (1:00)

ESPN's Jonathan Legard reviews how Lewis Hamilton took a step closer to winning the drivers' championship by winning the 2017 US Grand Prix in Austin. (1:00)

AUSTIN -- Lewis Hamilton was surprised his title rival Sebastian Vettel did not defend harder when he passed the Ferrari driver for the lead of the U.S. Grand Prix.

Vettel snatched the lead from Hamilton in the first corner with a bold move from second on the grid, but couldn't pull a gap on the Mercedes in the immediate aftermath. On lap 6 Hamilton was able to close in on Vettel and, with the help of the Drag Reduction System, passed the Ferrari under braking on the inside at Turn 12.

Although Vettel closed in again at the next pit stop, he did not got another shot at victory and Hamilton was surprised his title rival did not defend harder when he had the chance.

"It was very reminiscent of 2012 here, seeing Sebastian up ahead and wanting to have a wheel-to-wheel battle," Hamilton said. "I had a lot of fun trying to get closer and obviously it came down to the overtake in Turn 12, which again was the same as 2012.

"That's what I live for. That's what I didn't enjoy most. But I was a little bit surprised Sebastian didn't defend more -- I would have -- but still it was fair and then after that I think I had a little bit of a battle with [Max] Verstappen, which was like karting days, from one corner to the other. It was good fun."

Hamilton revealed that minor setup changes ahead of the start made a big difference when it came to managing the tyres over the 56-lap race.

"Today I had to make a couple of changes; adjustments with the temperature ramping up as it did. I just got it right on point. I guess all the experience of all the years really came into play because I got the balance just perfect. If I hadn't made those changes I probably would have gone backwards.

"Yeah, so, there's still three races to go. In my mind, I've still got three races to win. Still a lot of points available. So I don't think until it's ever properly done and sealed you can ever get ahead of yourself."