Lewis Hamilton has Sebastian Vettel at 'check' in title chess match
Pole-sitting Hamilton to start alongside Vettel in Sunday's grand prix; Race live from 8pm on Sky Sports F1
Lewis Hamilton believes he has Sebastian Vettel at "check" point in the title race - but is not expecting to turn that into check mate in Sunday's US GP.
For the fifth time in the last six races, Hamilton will start at the head of the grid in Austin after securing his 11th pole of the season, although Vettel will start alongside him for the seventh time in 2017 after crucially picking up two places on his final Q3 run and knocking Valtteri Bottas off the front row.
Hamilton can clinch his fourth title if he wins on Sunday and Vettel finishes lower than sixth but, with their starting positions making that prospect look unlikely, Hamilton believes Ferrari cannot be counted out yet.
"It's a bit like a game of chess," said Hamilton.
"Right now it's check but there is still a long, long way to go. There are still 100 points available.
With a 59-point title lead over Vettel, Hamilton does not need to win Sunday's race to still have a chance of clinching the title next week in Mexico.
However, he says he isn't focused on anything except taking as many victories as possible over the rest of the season.
"My outlook is to not only defend but really maximise and win these races," he said.
"I want to win these races: that's what I'm working for. In winning races, championships are won, and that's what I'm here to do."
"Sebastian and his team have been working as hard as they can, as are we. Who knows? It's going to go to the wire."
Vettel, meanwhile, is refusing to give up on his dream of winning a world title at Ferrari this year and, for different reasons, is similarly focused on one goal.
"It's pretty straightforward: we have to win and then see what happens," said the German.
"We are not in the position we would like to be, but still we have a chance and we will go. We had the car in the last three races so I don't see why we shouldn't have the package in the next four races."