Lewis Hamilton cruised to a crucial victory at the Mexican Grand Prix to close the gap on Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to 19 points in the title race.
World championship leader Rosberg just took second place ahead of Max Verstappen but the Red Bull driver was subsequently given a five-second elapsed penalty for leaving the track at turn one and refusing to give the place to Sebastian Vettel, who was then bumped up to third.
This relegated Verstappen to fifth place behind his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
Hamilton is now only 19 points behind with just two races remaining in Brazil and Abu Dhabi this season, but a win for Rosberg in Interlagos would clinch the German his maiden championship.
Rosberg can even afford to finish second and third at the remaining two races to clinch the crown.
Hamilton, 31, revealed earlier this week that he is relishing the challenge of usurping his Mercedes team-mate Rosberg at the top of the championship standings.
And the Briton has been in inspired form from the get-go here, comfortably faster than Rosberg in practice and qualifying before claiming the 51st victory of his career with a dominant display in front of 135,000 fans on Sunday.
Hamilton’s season has been plagued by engine troubles and slow starts but, for the second race in succession, the triple world champion got the perfect getaway to retain the lead on the near 1,000-metre run down to turn one.
But perhaps preoccupied with keeping Rosberg behind, Hamilton locked his front-right tyre and ran on to the grass. He essentially missed out the opening four turns before rejoining the track but, as Rosberg and Verstappen banged wheels behind him – a coming together which was declared a racing incident following an investigation by the stewards – he remained in the lead. Despite being bumped on to the grass, Rosberg retained second ahead of Verstappen.
Esteban Gutierrez, Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein then tripped over one another with the latter sustaining significant damage to the front of his Manor. His race was over, and the safety car was deployed with debris scattered across the track.
When the race restarted on lap four, Rosberg failed to threaten Hamilton, and from there the show was all but over. Vettel, on a longer first stint, led for 12 laps but, after he pitted at the end of lap 32, and Hamilton was released back into the lead, it was only a matter of the world champion nursing his Mercedes home, which he did to fine effect.
Hamilton took the chequered flag a distant eight seconds ahead of Rosberg to move alongside four-time world champion Alain Prost, into second on the all-time winners’ list. Only Michael Schumacher has tasted more victories in Formula One’s long history than the man from Stevenage.
For Rosberg, second could yet be enough as he bids to emulate his father Keke, the 1982 world champion, and win the title. In a race of little drama, Verstappen attempted to pass Rosberg on lap 50 after the German came unstuck while lapping Carlos Sainz, but Verstappen failed to make his move stick.
There was controversy late on, too, after Verstappen was stripped of his podium place following a timed penalty which promoted Vettel to third and Daniel Ricciardo to fourth.
Verstappen, who only discovered he had been penalised as he prepared to step on to the podium, was adjudged to have left the track and gained an advantage.
Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion, crossed the line in 12th with British rookie Jolyon Palmer 14th.
“This is honestly the best crowd,” said Hamilton. “They turn up and they have such great passion for the sport. It is great to see.
“Nico has done a great job. I am really gratfeul for the team. It is great for us to have a one-two.”
Rosberg added: “Lewis was a bit too fast this weekend so I will have to accept second place. It is okay to be second.”
Mexican Grand Prix Results
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 1hr 40mins 31.402secs 2 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:40:39.756 3 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:40:48.715 4 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 1:40:52.260 5 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 1:40:52.725 6 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 1:41:20.778 7 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India 1:41:30.293 8 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams 1:41:37.014 9 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams 1:41:47.608 10 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India 1:41:48.200 11 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber-Ferrari at 1 Lap 12 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren at 1 Lap 13 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren at 1 Lap 14 Jolyon Palmer (Gbr) Renault at 1 Lap 15 Felipe Nasr (Bra) Sauber-Ferrari at 1 Lap 16 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 1 Lap 17 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Renault at 1 Lap 18 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 1 Lap 19 Esteban Gutierrez (Mex) Haas F1 at 1 Lap 20 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 at 1 Lap 21 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Manor Racing at 2 laps
Not Classified 22 Pascal Wehrlein (Ger) Manor Racing 0 Laps completed
World Championship Standings
Drivers 1 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 349pts 2 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) Mercedes GP 330 3 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Red Bull 239 4 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 192 5 Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 178 6 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull 175 7 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India 85 8 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Williams 85 9 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Force India 60 10 Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren 52 11 Felipe Massa (Bra) Williams 51 12 Carlos Sainz (Spa) Scuderia Toro Rosso 38 13 Romain Grosjean (Fra) Haas F1 29 14 Daniil Kvyat (Rus) Scuderia Toro Rosso 25 15 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 21 16 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Renault 7 17 Jolyon Palmer (Gbr) Renault 1 18 Pascal Wehrlein (Ger) Manor Racing 1 19 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren 1 20 Esteban Gutierrez (Mex) Haas F1 0 21 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber-Ferrari 0 22 Felipe Nasr (Bra) Sauber-Ferrari 0 23 Rio Haryanto (Ina) Manor Racing 0 24 Esteban Ocon (Fra) Manor Racing 0
Manufacturers 1 Mercedes GP 679pts 2 Red Bull 422 3 Ferrari 370 4 Force India 145 5 Williams 136 6 McLaren 74 7 Scuderia Toro Rosso 55 8 Haas F1 29 9 Renault 8 10 Manor Racing 1 11 Sauber-Ferrari 0