Raikkonen wins thrilling race in the States

The Iceman is back! Kimi Raikkonen claimed his first Formula 1 win in five years in a thrilling United States Grand Prix, as Lewis Hamilton’s 2018 title celebrations were delayed despite a Sebastian Vettel spin.

Raikkonen overcame poleman Hamilton at the start and withstood late pressure from Max Verstappen, who started P18, and the Mercedes driver to finally win in his second stint with Ferrari and clinch his first success since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix with Lotus.

Second position would have given Hamilton the title and he went wheel-to-wheel with Verstappen with three laps to go, but could not make it stick, eventually running off-track at Turn 18.

Vettel’s fourth position, having passed Valtteri Bottas late on in his recovery drive, means Hamilton leads by 69 points with 75 on offer in the final three Grands Prix.

Hamilton went into the Austin race needing to outscore Vettel by eight points to clinch a fifth championship.

He erred at the start as Raikkonen muscled past on the inside into Turn 1, but half a lap later the pendulum swung in Hamilton’s favour when Vettel spun to P15.

Vettel breezed past Daniel Ricciardo down the back straight but made a small mistake under braking for the next corner and Ricciardo cut back on the exit of the tight left-hander.

That gave Vettel the inside for the next right-hander, but the German had a small wobble, bumped into the Red Bull and ended up facing the wrong way.

Raikkonen kept Hamilton at bay until an early virtual safety car led to Ferrari and Mercedes adopting different strategies.

With the race neutralised as marshals tended to Ricciardo’s stricken Red Bull, which had stopped on the exit of the Turn 11 hairpin, Mercedes told Hamilton to do the opposite to Raikkonen under the virtual safety car and so he dived into the pits, committing to a two-stop strategy.

Hamilton resumed in third place, just nine seconds behind The Iceman, and within three laps had taken second from team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who slowed down on the start-finish straight to let him by.

By lap 18 of 56 Hamilton was already on the back of Raikkonen again but Raikkonen somehow resisted three laps of relentless Hamilton pressure before pitting – which proved crucial later on.

Vettel stayed out until lap 26, ceding places to Raikkonen and Verstappen – who had charged through the field in a stunning first stint on softs – as he struggled with fading tyres.

Raikkonen’s task was to stay within one pitstop – roughly 20 seconds – of Hamilton, while Vettel began to catch Bottas for fourth.

Hamilton’s 18-second lead was gradually eroded by Raikkonen and as the Mercedes’ ageing softs worsened, third-place man Verstappen and Bottas comfortably got inside Hamilton’s pitstop window.

He stopped on lap 37, which handed Raikkonen a 2.5-second lead over Verstappen, with Bottas 6.5 seconds further back and Hamilton fourth, 12 seconds behind the lead Ferrari and 4.1 seconds clear of Vettel.

Armed with fresh softs, Hamilton raced onto the back of his team-mate and was let through within two laps.

That put Hamilton third, 8.8s off the lead, but with Vettel stuck in fifth Hamilton only needed to pass Verstappen – 6.7 seconds ahead with 15 laps to go – to secure the championship.

He closed onto the back of Verstappen with seven laps to go, but was not able to make a pass as their battle culminated in an epic run of four corners side-by-side.

Hamilton ran wide as he finally attempted to pass Verstappen on the outside of the fast double-right near the end of the lap.

Moments later, Vettel passed Bottas at the hairpin to lose only two points to Hamilton as the title fight continues.

Behind the leaders, Renault received a late boost in its quest for fourth in the constructors’ championship as Nico Hulkenberg led home team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr for a best-of-the-rest one-two.

Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen and Ocon’s team-mate Sergio Perez completed the points finishers.

There were four retirees from the race.

Long before Ricciardo ground to a halt in his Red Bull, Fernando Alonso and Romain Grosjean had their races ruined on the opening lap.

Alonso stopped in the pits after being wiped out by Lance Stroll on the entry to the esses, while Grosjean locked up and clattered into Charles Leclerc’s Sauber at the tight left-hander at the end of the back straight.

Stroll was given a drivethrough penalty for spinning Alonso, while Grosjean’s incident – which sent Leclerc, who eventually retired much later, to the back of the pack – will be investigated after the race.

Grosjean faces an automatic one-race ban if the stewards award him three licence penalty points, having already picked up nine in the last 12 months.

So congratulations to Kimi Raikkonen. Finally a race victory to the most popular driver on the Formula 1 grid. This achievement is sweet as this is the last chance for The Iceman to taste the winning champagne following the news to switch from Ferrari to Sauber next season. Enjoy this moment.

As for Lewis Hamilton, this was a tense race and that fifth championship will have to wait until Mexico. Roll on the next Grand Prix.

United States Grand Prix, race results after 56 laps:
1 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1h34m18.643s
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1.281s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2.342s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 18.222s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 24.744s
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m27.210s
7 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m34.994s
8 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m39.288s
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m40.657s
10 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m41.080s
11 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 1 Lap
12 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1 Lap
13 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1 Lap
14 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1 Lap
15 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1 Lap
16 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 2 Laps
– Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari Retirement
– Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault Retirement
– Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari Collision
– Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault Collision

Drivers’ standings:
1 Lewis Hamilton 346
2 Sebastian Vettel 276
3 Kimi Raikkonen 221
4 Valtteri Bottas 217
5 Max Verstappen 191
6 Daniel Ricciardo 146
7 Nico Hulkenberg 61
8 Kevin Magnussen 55
9 Sergio Perez 54
10 Esteban Ocon 53
11 Fernando Alonso 50
12 Carlos Sainz 45
13 Romain Grosjean 31
14 Pierre Gasly 28
15 Charles Leclerc 21
16 Stoffel Vandoorne 8
17 Lance Stroll 6
18 Marcus Ericsson 6
19 Brendon Hartley 2
20 Sergey Sirotkin 1

Constructors’ standings:
1 Mercedes 563
2 Ferrari 497
3 Red Bull-Renault 337
4 Renault 106
5 Haas-Ferrari 86
6 McLaren-Renault 58
7 Force India-Mercedes 48
8 Toro Rosso-Honda 30
9 Sauber-Ferrari 27
10 Williams-Mercedes 7

5 thoughts to “Raikkonen wins thrilling race in the States”

  1. United States Grand Prix race review as reported by Formula1.com.

    It was set up as the day when Lewis Hamilton would seal a fifth world title. Instead, the United States Grand Prix will be remembered for another piece of history – as the day when Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen brilliantly broke a 112-race winless streak.

    The Finn, whose last victory came all the way back in Australia 2013, 2044 days earlier, came out on top of a titanic three-way battle with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes driver Hamilton at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas to claim his 21st career victory and become, at 39, F1’s oldest race winner since Nigel Mansell in 1994.

    “****** finally!” Raikkonen exclaimed in celebration.

    Behind him, Verstappen put his qualifying woes behind him as he crossed the line 1.2s back to cap a superb drive through the field from 18th on the grid, while Hamilton – who started from pole and led during the middle phase of the race – was forced to settle for third after needing to make one more pit stop than his rivals.

    Hamilton will now look to Mexico next weekend as his chance to clinch the 2018 drivers’ crown, with his gap to rival Sebastian Vettel stretched to 70 points by virtue of another scruffy race for the Ferrari star.

    Vettel started fifth but was 15th at the end of lap one after another first-lap spin, this time following contact with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo while battling for fourth.

    The German recovered to finish fourth, passing the second Silver Arrow of Valtteri Bottas late on, but even if he wins in Mexico next weekend he will be powerless to stop Hamilton from beating him to becoming just the third man in history to secure five titles if the Briton scores five or more points there.

    But as his career with Ferrari winds down, this was a race that will be remembered for a famous Raikkonen victory…

    Having been gifted a front-row grid slot by team mate Vettel, by virtue of the German’s three-place grid drop for driving too fast under red flags in practice, Raikkonen made full use of his elevated position and his ultrasoft tyres at the start to jump the supersoft-shod Hamilton into Turn 1.

    Team boss Maurizio Arrivabene celebrated the move passionately on the Ferrari pit wall, but his joy would be short lived as later on around the lap Vettel found himself pirouetting in a cloud of tyre smoke in a moment that brought back memories of lap one in Italy.

    Battling with Daniel Ricciardo for fourth place, Vettel launched an attack up the inside of the Red Bull. The two banged wheels and before he knew it, Vettel was spinning down to 15th, his already slim title hopes seemingly going up in literal smoke.

    That confrontation followed two other clashes on lap one, with Williams’ Lance Stroll eventually being given a drive-through penalty for spearing Fernando Alonso’s helpless McLaren, leading to the Spaniard’s early retirement. “These guys are impossible to race with,” Alonso angrily said over team radio before parking his orange car for good.

    Charles Leclerc was also in the wars, with Romain Grosjean collecting the Sauber driver at the hairpin and sending him into a spin. The duo would both ultimately retire their cars following the incident, with Grosjean subsequently being handed a three-place grid drop for the next round in Mexico for causing the collision.

    Raikkonen, having gained a position on the opening lap for the first time since the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, led comfortably in the early running as further back Verstappen and a recovering Vettel made ground.

    Behind Hamilton, Bottas ran third with Ricciardo fifth, but the Australian’s luck would soon run out as his Red Bull ground to a halt with a power unit issue coming out of Turn 11.

    Ricciardo’s retirement – his seventh from 18 races this season – would prove a decisive moment. With the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) deployed to allow marshals to clear the stricken RB14, Hamilton was instructed to pit, provided Raikkonen didn’t dive in ahead of him.

    The Finn stayed out and in came Hamilton, swapping onto soft tyres and losing minimal time in the process, the VSC allowing him to lose just nine seconds to Raikkonen, as opposed to the 20 or so seconds he would have lost under normal racing conditions.

    Advantage Hamilton then – or was it? Ferrari confidently told Raikkonen that Hamilton – with so much of the race to run – would need another pit stop, and though the Briton led following the Finn’s sole stop on lap 21, the Mercedes driver was indeed forced in for fresh rubber once more on lap 38 after suffering excessive tyre wear.

    He rejoined in P4 behind Verstappen in second and Bottas in third, the flying Dutchman having undercut the second Silver Arrow after stopping one lap earlier than the Finn on lap 23.

    Vettel, meanwhile, stopped on lap 27, returning in fifth place having steadily climbed the order beforehand. He caught and eventually passed Bottas for fourth on lap 55, but most eyes at that point were on the lead battle.

    Hamilton had quickly passed Bottas after his stop and then rapidly set after Verstappen and Raikkonen, who were nine and 12 seconds up the road respectively when he rejoined.

    The four-time world champion quickly closed the gap but after latching on to the back of Verstappen, who having brilliantly made his supersoft tyres last had himself closed right onto the rear of Raikkonen’s car, he could go no further.

    The closest he came was on the penultimate lap, when he and Verstappen dramatically went wheel-to-wheel for several corners, the Dutchman ultimately coming out on top thanks to a stubborn defence as Hamilton ended up running wide.

    That squabble gave welcome breathing room to Raikkonen, who duly went on to wrap up a popular victory that moved him one ahead of fellow Finn Mika Hakkinen into 15th in the all-time wins list. He also moved ahead of Bottas into third in the drivers’ standings. But while that fight could go down to the wire, the battle for P1 in the drivers’ standings now surely looks set…

    Behind the frantic action up front, it was a great day for Renault as they finished sixth and seventh with Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz to strengthen their grip on fourth place in the constructors’ standings ahead of Haas, whose home race ended with them claiming just two points for P9 with Kevin Magnussen.

    Force India, meanwhile, took another step towards overhauling McLaren for P6 as Esteban Ocon finished a strong eighth and Sergio Perez 10th. However, Ocon was subsequently disqualified after his car was excluded for exceeding permitted fuel flow limits on the opening lap, elevating Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley into the final point-scoring position.

  2. Daniel Ricciardo “put his fist through wall” after US GP exit. That was pure frustration from the honey badger. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Red Bull Formula 1 team principal Christian Horner says Daniel Ricciardo put his fist through the wall of his room at Austin after retiring from the United States Grand Prix.

    Ricciardo retired while running fourth in the race when his car shut down at the Turn 11 hairpin just eight laps into the race, while his teammate Max Verstappen finished second from 18th on the grid.

    Speaking to Sky Sports after the race, Horner said Ricciardo took out his frustration in the paddock.

    “It’s a crying shame for Daniel, I feel so sorry for him,” said Horner.

    “It looks identical to the power unit issue he had in Bahrain where it’s just gone into complete shutdown – you could see it mid-corner.

    “He was driving a strong grand prix and would have been right there too. It’s so frustrating for him.

    “He’s taken out his frustration in his room by putting his fist through the wall which you can totally relate to.”

    Horner said Ricciardo knew the problems were not related to the team, but to Renault – whose works team he will switch to for next season.

    “I’m sure he’ll be having a word with his future employers about it – it’s so frustrating to keep losing him from races at the moment,” he added.

    “He doesn’t blame the team in any way, he knows we are doing everything we can, it’s just one of those things.

    “Hopefully we’ve got enough components in our [engine] pool for him not to take a penalty [next weekend in Mexico].

    “I think both guys can be strong in Mexico. We won it well last year, a really dominant win for us [with Verstappen].

    “At that altitude the engines can’t breathe and it brings it all closer together, and that gives us a chance.

    “We’re lacking that horsepower, and this will give us a fairer chance on a Saturday, and you can see we’ve got a good race car.”

  3. Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes “made it hard for ourselves” in the US GP. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton admits he and the team “made it hard for ourselves” in committing to an inferior United States Grand Prix strategy compared to his nearest rivals.

    Hamilton started the Austin race on pole with the chance of clinching the 2018 drivers’ title early, but lost out to Kimi Raikkonen at the start – and also dropped behind Max Verstappen, who like Raikkonen made a single stop to Hamilton’s two.

    The championship leader caught the pair at the end of the race on fresher tyres, but could not make any further progress as Verstappen held his ground.

    Hamilton admitted after the race that his initial pitstop on lap 11 came as “a little bit of a surprise” as Mercedes tried to take advantage of a virtual safety car period.

    “Once we’ve done the stop on 11, I knew I would be doing a two-stop,” Hamilton said.

    “It just made it so hard for ourselves – we came out, I had to catch Kimi, caught him and tyres were dead, and then he did his stop and was catching me with fresh tyres, and then I came out after the last stop and had the 12 seconds to catch up.

    “It just made it so hard for us to even compete today.”

    Hamilton said he wasn’t “quite sure of all the reasoning” for the call, but reckoned the choice of the starting tyre was a major factor in the defeat.

    The Briton had started on supersofts to Raikkonen’s ultrasofts, and felt this allowed the Finn to get ahead and control the race.

    “I think it already started from Q2, that tyre was the wrong tyre to start on.

    “We already knew there was a big difference in start performance on these different tyres, yet we fell for something that we already knew was potentially not the way forward.

    “And obviously I lost position to him [Raikkonen], and then wasn’t able to keep up because he had clean air and a better tyre.

    “It was definitely a lesson learned, I think, for us. Performance-wise wasn’t our greatest weekend – but we’ve had some incredible weekends this year.

    “And still to get a third, I’m still grateful for that – but naturally, starting first and finishing third is never a good thing.”

    Hamilton’s sole remaining title rival Sebastian Vettel spun after contact with Daniel Ricciardo on the opening lap, but recovered to fourth to keep his title hopes alive.

    Asked by Motorsport.com whether he was surprised not to have wrapped up the title after Vettel’s mishap, Hamilton said: “Not surprised, I finished third. I had to win the race today.

    “Not really sure what happened in the race behind, but obviously he did a good job to come back.

    “But as a team we clearly struggled – you could see Valtteri struggled to keep Seb behind even when Seb must’ve been quite far behind [after spinning].

    “Performance-wise we were definitely off this weekend.”

  4. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen has finally won a Grand Prix and The Iceman commented that this “proved people wrong” after ending win drought. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    United States Grand Prix winner Kimi Raikkonen believes he has “proved some people wrong” after claiming his first Formula 1 victory in five and a half years.

    Raikkonen had not won a race since the 2013 Australian GP with Lotus and, having lost his Ferrari driver to Charles Leclerc for 2019, was at risk of ending his second stint with the Scuderia without a win.

    He jumped poleman Lewis Hamilton at the start of Sunday’s grand prix and then withstood late pressure from Max Verstappen and the Mercedes driver to end his victory drought.

    “It hasn’t really been a big deal for me,” he said “It’s been a much bigger deal for other people.

    “If it comes it comes, if it doesn’t it doesn’t change my life one bit. I’m happy because we are here purely to try to win. The biggest difference is how people look at you.

    “Obviously, I’m happy. [I] just proved some people wrong.”

    Raikkonen said he was also pleased for his team having had “a pretty rough few races”.

    Hamilton and Mercedes had won the previous four grands prix and six of the last seven races, with Ferrari only enjoying Sebastian Vettel’s Belgian GP success during that run.

    Ferrari told Raikkonen he would not be driving for the team next season ahead of the Italian GP, and the Finn went on to claim his first pole of the year that weekend before signing a two-year deal with Sauber.

    He made it clear his comments about proving people wrong were not aimed at the decision to drop him.

    “For sure I didn’t mean in that sense,” he said. “I think people don’t understand I’m actually very happy with where I’m going.

    “I have had my time with Ferrari, I won the championship with them and many races with them.

    “For me, as a driver, I want different challenges. I want different things.

    “I wasn’t really at any point disappointed with the decision. The only thing I was interested in was to know what would happen.

    “The rest, I’ve been in F1 long enough to know it doesn’t matter if you have a contract or not, things happen for different reasons.”

  5. Fernando Alonso says there are “more amateur” drivers in Formula 1 than in the World Endurance Championship after his crash with Lance Stroll in the United States Grand Prix.

    Alonso was hit by Williams driver Stroll as they approached the esses on the opening lap, the contact causing heavy damage to the McLaren, which retired after returning to the pits.

    Stroll was able to continue and was given a drive-through penalty for causing the crash.

    Alonso, who was also involved in an incident with Stroll in Japan, hit out at the FIA for not doing enough to stop that kind of driving.

    “I’m not upset. I’m disappointed because I’m nine days here in the US to do a race and I do 600 meters of the race and they push you off,” said Alonso.

    “That’s the way it is, but it’s more a problem for the FIA if they keep allowing this type of driving. I drive in another series with amateur drivers, theoretically, and there has never been a problem.

    “There are more amateurs here than in other series,” added the Spaniard, who races in the WEC with Toyota.

    “Maybe when there’s a big crash they will do something.

    “Until then we’ll try to have fun in other categories where we race against 34 cars, against amateur people, against 60-year-old men and nothing ever happens.

    “Here we need bumpers, like the rental go-karts, so we can all crash into each other.”

    The two-time champion, who is retiring from F1 at the end of the year, believes the level of the drivers currently competing in Formula 1 is lower than it was in the past.

    When asked if drivers in F1 where more aggressive than in WEC, he said: “No, the level is lower.

    “I race in the WEC and they are very aggressive as well and we have three different categories there, some amateur drivers in the GTE-AM, but no one crashes into each other. There’s another mentality.

    “Sometimes you make a mistake or you try to take a risk at the start, or you can overshoot your braking point or make a mistake.

    “But it’s like Spa, where you start and suddenly they are playing bowling with you. Here again, you start and they play bowling with you and you have the bad luck of having to retire.”

    After the race, however, Alonso took to Twitter to dial back on the criticism after seeing replays of the incident.

    Source: Motorsport.com

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