AUSTIN, Texas — Lewis Hamilton wanted to make Formula One's return to the United States something special, for him and for racing.
The Briton did just that Sunday, using a thrilling pass of Sebastian Vettel at the end of a long straightaway to take the lead, then holding off the German for the final 14 laps to win the U.S. Grand Prix, the first Formula One race on American soil since 2007.
Hamilton won that race five years ago in Indianapolis and made the move of the day to capture his fourth win of 2012.
"Wicked!" Hamilton roared over his radio. "This is one of the best, if not the best Grand Prix, we've had all year."
Hamilton, in his second-to-last race for McLaren before departing for the factory Mercedes team, relished his chance to return to the USGP on the new $400 million Circuit of the Americas.
He talked of his love affair with America all week and raced with the stars and stripes of the American flag painted on top of his helmet.
Red Bull's Vettel, who started on the pole, didn't clinch a third consecutive title but finished second, a spot ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, to stretch his lead over Alonso to 13 points. The finale is Sunday in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
"Bit of a shame to lose first place, but I think we did everything we could," Vettel said.
Vettel, 25, seeks to join Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio as the only drivers to win three titles in a row, and to become the youngest to do so.
EAST BAY RACEWAY: Kyle Bronson won the 25-lap Late Model feature late Saturday in Gibsonton.