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Lewis Hamilton was again a cut above his opponents as he dominated the second practice session at the US grand prix.
The championship leader's title rival Sebastian Vettel could manage only third quickest, over half a second off Hamilton's pace, with the Red Bull of in-form Max Verstappen second fastest.
Vettel suffered a spin as he struggled to get anywhere near Hamilton's blistering lap time and knows a victory for his Mercedes rival on Sunday means he must finish fourth or higher or the drivers' title will be lost.
Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas was fourth with the second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo fifth.
Vettel's Ferrari colleague Kimi Raikkonen came home sixth with Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez catching the eye in seventh and ninth position respectively.
Much of the talk afterwards centred on Verstappen's future with Red Bull with team advisor Helmut Marko confirming the Dutchman wants to stay with the team.
"Max and Ricciardo could have been free after 2018," he said. "We tried to secure at least one driver and Max asked if he could make a deal until 2020.
"Ricciardo was putting himself on the market but now we are talking with him.
"It shows how much Max trusts us."
Verstappen's team-mate, Ricciardo, also has an as-yet undecided future and he gave his thoughts on both drivers' futures.
"It's not that I've said no to anything," he said. "It's just still quite early I think. People talked about contracts and the silly season for next year but it is still quite early.
"On the positive side, I think his news gives us good confidence for next year. He and his management see a lot of positives in the team to continue like that.
"I'm 100 per cent here next year and I think it gives both of us confidence we will keep progressing the way we are.
"Max gets a lot of attention and he's broken records for his age. As far as what's happening inside the team, new parts on the car, things like this there has always been equality.
"As far as I'm concerned the [terminology] is media stuff but not anything internal. I have no concern on that."
The United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas will be shown live over the weekend of 20-22 October on eir Sport in Ireland. The race is live on eir Sport 1 on Sunday, 22 October [race time 8pm]
Image: Getty/Clive Rose
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