Hamilton misses three-peat, but happy with fourth in Austin (VIDEO)

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Unless Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton managed a cracking start from fifth place, his shot at a third straight United States Grand Prix victory was always a long one.

Still, the Englishman gave it everything he had with a jump of two spots into third at the first turn. The safety car period that immediately followed negated a further charge, and Hamilton eventually fell behind Mark Webber’s Red Bull for third.

Hamilton ended fourth after a race where he was clearly ahead of the rest of the pack and behind the podium finishers of the two Red Bulls and Romain Grosjean’s Lotus.

It was a needed run with a new chassis, after his one at Abu Dhabi was found to be cracked. The difference, he said, was “night and day.”

“It felt great. I am really so happy that I couldn’t keep my feet on the ground,” Hamilton told NBC’s Will Buxton after the race. “Great to have a real race. Naturally when you have bad races like the last one (a relatively lonely seventh place result in Abu Dhabi), I couldn’t concentrate on anything else.”

Hamilton has adopted the U.S. as something of a second home. With residences in the States and the two prior victories at Indianapolis and in the inaugural Austin race last year, this is a country Hamilton has embraced and he felt like he wanted to achieve more this afternoon.

“It’s been great,” he told Buxton. “I also really love the Silverstone Grand Prix, my home grand prix obviously. But I have to say this city is so vibrant during the weekend, and the track is really nice to drive.”

Hamilton’s result consolidated Mercedes’ grip on second in the Constructor’s Championship. With Hamilton’s fourth and Nico Rosberg finishing ninth after a dismal qualifying session, Mercedes now has 348 points and 15 clear of Ferrari heading to Brazil next week.

Alonso enjoys maiden Toyota LMP1 test, ends as second-fastest rookie

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Fernando Alonso took his first step towards a possible entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2018 by testing an LMP1 car for the first time with Toyota in Bahrain on Sunday.

Two-time Formula 1 world champion Alonso has made no secret of his desire to race at Le Mans, having signed a deal to race in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January as preparation for a possible entry at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Toyota confirmed after Saturday’s FIA World Endurance Championship finale in Bahrain that Alonso would be testing its TS050 Hybrid LMP1 car in the traditional rookie test on Sunday.

Alonso was given the car for the bulk of the five-hour test day following an initial shakedown by Sebastien Buemi, completing 113 laps in total – more than any other driver – and posting a best lap time of 1:43.013.

“It was a great day,” Alonso said. “Testing an LMP1 car is always a nice thing for any racing driver because these cars are amazing to drive. They are very consistent throughout a stint which is a positive thing.

“I have wanted to test a car like this for a long time now and today I could achieve that, so I am happy.”

However, Alonso did not finish as the fastest rookie, with that honor instead going to Pietro Fittipaldi, who was the final driver to drive the Porsche 919 Hybrid ahead of the closure of the German marque’s LMP1 program.

Alonso is now set to head back to Europe before a test in United Autosports’ LMP2 car on Tuesday as part of his Daytona preparation, before then returning to the Middle East for the F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi next weekend.