AUSTIN, Texas Lewis Hamilton wanted to make Formula One's return to the United States something special for him and racing.
The Briton used a thrilling pass of Sebastian Vettel at the end of a long straightaway to take the lead and then held off the German for the final 14 laps to win the U.S. Grand Prix, the first Formula One race on U.S. soil since 2007.
McClaren's Hamilton, who won that race five years ago, made the move of the day at the new $400 million Circuit of the Americas to capture his fourth victory of 2012.
"Wicked!" roared Hamilton, who pumped his fists, waved to the crowd and danced on the nose of his car. "This is one of the best, if not the best Grand Prix, we've had all year."
Red Bull's Vettel finished second and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was third. Vettel, who's gunning for this third consecutive championship, leads Alonso by 13 points heading into the final race this weekend in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
"Bit of a shame to lose first place, but I think we did everything we could," Vettel said. "We've been very quick in Brazil the last few years so plenty to look forward to."
Vettel survived the start as the drivers surged uphill toward the first turn, then whipped around and down into the second before making a slalom run through a series of curves.
He led 41 laps until Hamilton zipped by as the cars approached the tight corner in Turn 12.
Alonso moved up to start seventh after a five-spot penalty on teammate Felipe Massa.
Alonso advanced three spots on the first lap. He ran into trouble with a bad pit stop but made up enough ground to keep the pressure on Vettel this weekend.
"It was not possible to keep pace," Alonso said. "They were too far ahead."