Raikkonen wins: Hamilton forced to waitposted in F121 | 10 | 2018

    LEWIS HAMILTON’S 2018 world title celebrations were put on ice — most likely for seven days — as Kimi Raikkonen claimed his first Formula 1 win in five years in the United States Grand Prix. (Related: Hamilton dominates Japan GP)

    Hamilton, on the verge of clinching his fifth F1 world championship, started from pole position, but was overtaken by the Ferrari of Raikkonen as the Finn muscled past him on the inside of Turn 1 at the start of the race.

    And while Hamilton had to content himself with third on the podium, behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen — who stated from 18th on the grid — his day was eased following the early spin by title rival Sebastien Vettel. The German, relegated to 15th, recovered to finish fourth, albeit 16secs behind Hamilton.

    Hamilton now heads to Mexico this weekend with a 70-point lead the the championship, with only 75 remaining. Second place would have given Hamilton the title at Austin, and the Brit went wheel-to-wheel with Verstappen with three laps to go. But he couldn’t make it stick, eventually running off-track at Turn 18.

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    Vettel again showed his inability too handle the 2018 title pressure when, having breezed past the Red Bul of Daniel Ricciardo down the back straight, the Ferrari driver made a small mistake under braking for the next corner. This allowed Ricciardo to cut back on the exit of the tight left-hander.

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

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    While a virtual safety car phase was introduced while the marshals dealt with Ricciardo’s damaged Red Bull, which had stopped at Turn 11, Ferrari and Mercedes then adopted different strategies.

    With Raikkonen still leading Hamilton, Mercedes told the world championship leader to do the opposite to the Finn under the VSC and so he dived into the pits; this committed Hamilton to a two-stop strategy.

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

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    As the race reached lap 18 of 56, Hamilton was tucked up behind Raikkonen again, but the Ferrari driver somehow resisted three laps of relentless pressure before pitting. This was to prove crucial later in the race.

    Vettel meanwhile stayed out on track until lap 26, ceding place to Raikkonen and Verstappen in the process as his tyres struggled for grip. The Dutchman has been in searing form, carving his way through the field in stunning fashion on his soft compound Pirellis. 

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    Raikkonen's primary task was to stay within one pitstop — roughly 20s — of Hamilton, while Vettel began to catch Bottas for fourth. Hamilton's 18sec lead was gradually eroded by Raikkonen and as the Mercedes' ageing softs worsened, third-place man Verstappen and Bottas also comfortably got inside Hamilton's pitstop window.

    The Brit made his second pitstop on lap 37, and in doing so handed Raikkonen a 2.5-second lead over Verstappen, with Bottas 6.5s further back; Hamilton was now fourth, 12s behind the lead Ferrari and 4.1s clear of Vettel.

    Within two laps, Hamilton was immediately behind Bottas, and was allowed through by his Mercedes team-mate, easing him back into third, 8.8s off the lead. That meant, with Vettel stuck in fifth Hamilton only needed to pass Verstappen — 6.7s ahead with 15 laps to go — to secure the title.

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    As if drawn by a hugely powerful magnet, Hamilton reeled in Verstappen and, though he ultimately was unable to pass the Red Bull, the two drivers delivered an epic run of four corners side-by-side.

    On the final attempt to pass, Hamilton ran wide on the outside of the fast double-right near the end of the lap. The two held their position to the end, while Vettel passed Bottas at the hairpin to ultimately only lose two points to Hamilton.

    In the fight to the ‘Best of the Rest’, there was something of a surprise as Nico Hulkenberg led home team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr for a Renault 1-2 … albeit it sixth and seventh respectively. The top 10 point-scorers were rounded off by the Force India of Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen’s Haas and Ocon's team-mate Sergio Perez.

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    In addition to Ricciardo, there were three other retirements. On the opening lap, both Fernando Alonso and Romain Grosjean had their races wrecked.

    Alonso stopped his McLaren in the pits after being wiped out by Lance Stroll’s Williams on the entry to the esses. Not surprisingly, Stroll received a a drivethrough penalty for spinning the Spaniard.

    Grosjean, meanwhile, locked-up and then clattered into the Sauber of Charles Leclerc at the tight left-hander at the end of the back straight.

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    NOTE: Stewards subsequently disqualified Magnussen and Ocon after the race, both for exceeding fuel flow limits. The decision promoted the Toro Rosso of Brendon Hartley to ninth, with Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber 10th.

    F1 — United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of The Americas (Result — Revised):

    1. Kimi Raikkonen FIN Scuderia Ferrari 56 laps


    2. Max Verstappen NED Aston Martin Red Bull Racing + 1.281s


    3. Lewis Hamilton GBR Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport + 2.342s


    4. Sebastian Vettel GER Scuderia Ferrari + 18.222s


    5. Valtteri Bottas FIN Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport + 24.744s


    6. Nico Hulkenberg GER Renault Sport Formula One Team +87.210s


    7. Carlos Sainz Jr. ESP Renault Sport Formula One Team + 94.994s


    8. Sergio Perez MEX Racing Point Force India F1 Team + 101.080s


    9. Brendon Hartley NZL Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda + 1 lap


    10. Marcus Ericsson SWE Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team + 1 lap


    11. Stoffel Vandoorne BEL McLaren F1 Team + 1 lap


    12. Pierre Gasly FRA Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda + 1 lap

    
13. Sergey Sirotkin RUS Williams Martini Racing + 1 lap

    
14. Lance Stroll CAN Williams Martini Racing + 2 laps


    Did not finish:

    Charles Leclerc MON Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team 31 laps


    Daniel Ricciardo AUS Aston Martin Red Bull Racing 8 laps


    Romain Grosjean FRA Haas F1 Team 2 laps


    Fernando Alonso ESP McLaren F1 Team

    Disqualified:

    Kevin Magnussen DEN Haas F1 Team Exceded total fuel consumption

    Esteban Ocon FRA Racing Point Force India F1 Team Exceded fuel flow limit for Lap 1

    Related: Scot Sandy Mitchell bags third in Euro GT3 Silver Cup

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    Jim McGill

     

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