A lot had happened since the last time Kimi Räikkönen had won a Formula One Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton had gone from having one world title to four, Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso have both won Le Mans, and Max Verstappen made the transition from karting to F1. Yet the 2007 World Champion managed to win the US Grand Prix – his first win since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix 2,044 days previously.
There were several pivotal moments in the race for Räikkönen. The Finn overtook Hamilton on the opening lap and when a virtual safety car was required, Mercedes decided to pit the Brit for fresh rubber. Räikkönen led the race and Hamilton soon caught up, the Finn took his stop and the Brit was back in control.. until he needed to pit again.
Hamilton’s second stop for new tyres put him further back down the field and despite catching Räikkönen and Verstappen in the last ten laps, track position was decisive. The Finn held on to claim his first win in five years and his first win at Ferrari since re-joining the team in 2014. Dutchman Verstappen came home second with Hamilton completing the podium.
Saturday was a bad day for Verstappen who could not make it into the third qualifying session because he ran over the kerbs and broke the suspension on his car. Additionally, Verstappen’s Red Bull needed a gearbox change which meant he started the race from 18th place on the grid.
On raceday the Dutchman weaved his way from the back grid ending up in ninth at the end of the first lap. A few laps later and Vertsappen had made it up to fourth looking to close the gap to the leaders. The Red Bull driver managed his tyres well and pitted later than his fellow racers, when Hamilton completed his second stop he emerged behind the Dutchman.
Verstappen challeneged Räikkönen for the lead but was unable to make a decisive move. When Hamilton joined the battle, it was a three-way fight for the win but the Brit and the Dutchman became pre-occupied with one another leaving Räikkönen to pull ahead. Verstappen and Hamilton came close in the final stages, wheel-to-wheel action saw the duo switch positions but ultimately it was the Dutchman who claimed second place.
After a poor start to the season, by his own standards, Vertsappen’s season has come alive with four podiums in the six races since the summer break. The Dutchman claimed victory at the Mexican Grand Prix last season and he will be hoping to maintain his momentum to do the same thing this year.
The US Grand Prix gave Lewis Hamilton the first chance to claim his fifth World title. Even though, things didn’t go to plan for the Brit he is an a dominant position and has another chance this weekend in Mexico.
Hamilton qualified in pole position and gave himself the best chance but during the race, he was passed on the first lap by Räikkönen. When the virtual safety car was deployed, Mercedes decided to pit the four-time World Champion as they could save time and emerge on the track still close to the front of the race. This strategy seemed to be paying dividends until Hamilton’s tyres appeared to blister and he began to struggle with pace.
Mercedes took a long time to pit Hamilton and when they eventually did, he returned to the track behind Räikkönen and Verstappen. Despite going wheel-to-wheel with the Dutchman, the Brit could not claim second place and with Sebastian Vettel finishing in fourth the title race continues. However, Hamilton still has a 70 point advantage over Vettel and only needs to finish in seventh place at the Mexican Grand Prix to secure his fifth World Championship.
The Mexican Grand Prix race proper starts at 19.10 GMT on Sunday 28th October 2018.
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