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 Raikkonen, 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… By F1