Bottas, his Mercedes team-mate and the only man who can still delay his championship coronation, secured pole position with a stunningly quick lap – the fastest ever recorded at this twisting Texas track – but the result was largely academic. Even if the Finn goes on to win, Hamilton needs to finish only eighth to be sure of the championship.

This latest effort was not without drama, as Max Verstappen angrily lashed out at his driving over the in-car radio.

As they gathered behind Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat, heading three abreast into a corner, the Dutchman found himself squeezed into the corner, shouting: “It’s his f—— fault, this.”

Verstappen explained: “We were all lining up to do our lap. I had Daniil in front of me. Lewis just drove by like nobody was there, like he didn’t care. I thought, ‘If you don’t care, well I don’t care.’”

Bottas: “I knew how to put it together,” he said, having shaded Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by 12 thousandths. “I’m glad no one could improve at the end. I’m sure Lewis wants to win the championship in the best possible way. But clearly I’m trying to delay that.”