Raikkonen at Last, Wins One in Texas
AUSTIN, Texas—R.I.S.—It might have taken a little over eight years, but a veteran won Sunday at the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas as Kimi Raikkonen, taking advantage of a Lewis Hamilton error of pitting on the 11th lap of the race, went on to win , with a 1.2 second victory over Max Verstappen, who began the race in 18th place. Hamilton himself finished in third, but because his championship rival, Sebastian Vettel, took fourth at the last second by passing Valtteri Bottas laps from the end, the F1 title battle will move on to the next round in seven days at Mexico City.
"It has been a great weekend.” Raikkonen told the BBC. “The car has been good all the time. Got a good start and needed to push hard. The tires were going off at the end, but we had enough speed and kept it consistent and just tried to keep the tires alive to the end.”
Hamilton tried to block Raikkonen right from the beginning of the race, but the Finn was having none of it, and took the lead, battling Hamilton until the 11th lap, when Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull suffered a power failure at turn 11, bringing out the virtual safety car for one lap. Raikkonen did not take advantage of this to pit for fresher tires. Hamilton was fooled by this, and pitted, coming out around fifth place.
When Raikkonen decided to pit, Hamilton had moved up and was challenging for the lead, finally achieving this on lap 22. But Hamilton failed to take advantage of this situation, and even if the Briton led by 17 seconds on lap 28, the right rear tire was severely blistering, forcing Hamilton to pit for another set of tires midway through the race. By lap 38, Hamilton had found himself in a battle with both Verstappen and now leader Raikkonen, all three within only a couple of seconds between each other. But Hamilton overshot one of the final turns with a couple of laps to go when Verstappen did the same earlier and prevented Hamilton from taking second place. Raikkonen, meanwhile, was able to hold on for first, while Verstappen held off Hamilton for the runner-up position. Vettel, who earlier in the race was clipped by Ricciardo, spinning him around, recovered and passed Bottas with two laps to go for fourth, when the Mercedes as well, overshot the turn, this time near the start/finish line.
Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr. increased Renault’s chances of clinching fourth place in the constructor’s championship, with both taking sixth and seventh, respectively, while Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez finished in double points as well with eighth and tenth. For the American Haas F1 Team, the home race was good for Kevin Magnussen in ninth, but for Romain Grosjean, it was not, retiring with structural damage following his collision with Sauber’s Charles LeClerc on lap four.
Raikkonen became the oldest grand prix race winner since 1994, when Nigel Mansall was the last driver to do so. In addition, Raikkonen has not won a grand prix race since 2013 in Melbourne, Australia, when he drove for Lotus. With the Finn now making room for LeClerc next season at Ferrari, it seems that afterwards it had not sunk in for Raikkonen, that it took 2,044 days for him to win another race.
"It's been a long time [since I last won] but here we are." Raikkonen concluded.
UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX
At the Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas
Final Race Results
1 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari
2 Max Verstappen (NED) Red Bull Racing
3 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes
4 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari
5 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes
6 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. (SPA) Renault
8 Esteban Ocon (FRA) Force India
9 Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team
10 Sergio Perez (MEX) Force India
11 Brendon Hartley (NZL) Toro Rosso
12 Marcus Ericsson (SWE) Sauber
13 Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren
14 Pierre Gasly (FRA) Toro Rosso
15 Sergey Sirotkin (RUS) Williams
16 Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams
17 Charles LeClerc (MON) Sauber—hydraulic failure—lap 28
18 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing—engine failure—lap 11
19 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team—suspension damage—lap 4
20 Fernando Alonso (SPA) McLaren—suspension damage—lap 4
A 16 year veteran of writing formula one racing weekend race reports, features and team launches, Mark has worked for such companies as all-sports, e-sports, The Munich Eye newspaper in Germany, racingnation.com and Autoweek. A former member for this site four years ago, Mark now is a contributor for R.I.S.