2018: Round 18/21, United States GP, Circuit of the Americas

KIMI KEEPS LEWIS WAITING

Ferrari regains lost form as Mercedes wobble

1st     KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN          Ferrari

2nd    MAX VERSTAPPEN       Red Bull

3rd     LEWIS HAMILTON         Mercedes

Hamilton on pole, Vettel a penalised P5, the title fight looked over. Räikkönen saw it differently. Promoted to the front row by Seb’s demotion, a canny tyre advantage won Kimi turn 1 and the opening laps. On lap 11, a VSC for Ricciardo’s stricken Red Bull gave Mercedes the opportunity to switch Hamilton to a two-stop. On fresh rubber he quickly closed the 6s gap but couldn’t dislodge Räikkönen, defending his lead stoutly until his lap 21 stop. Effectively this won Kimi the race as in vainly trying to pass, Lewis lost 8s and ruined his tyres. Only 10 laps later leader Hamilton’s tyres blistered and the 18s to Räikkönen rapidly shortened. Mercedes’ options were pit immediately for better track position, or delay for fresher tyres in the chase to the flag. They waited till lap 37, Lewis rejoining 12s behind Kimi, leading again. But there was an intruder. Starting P18 due to a Q1 breakage, Verstappen had superbly stormed up to P2. Over the final thrilling 10 laps, Lewis closing down Max closing down Kimi, the top 3 were covered by 3s then 2s, then on lap 53, Lewis attacked Max for P2 and the championship. It nearly worked, but fear of contact made it a cagey effort. Vettel meanwhile, having spun down to P15 after a first lap clash with Ricciardo, passed Bottas for P4 on lap 55, so even P2 wasn’t enough for Lewis. Renault raced strongly to finish P6 and P7, but Ocon (P8) and Magnussen (P9) were disqualified for fuel flow violations.
Incidentally…
Without the grid penalty for the FP1 red flag incident, Vettel might have led in a 1-2. Ferrari had rediscovered their form as Räikkönen proved, posting his first win since 2013, 113 races ago, and the first since his 2014 return to the Scuderia. Mercedes struggled with tyre blistering and strategy, Lewis’ second stop left too late. But Vettel’s lapses denied a triumphant Ferrari fight back, Kimi’s win just delaying the inevitable for a week.

The Championship Chase
Hamilton 346, Vettel 276, Räikkönen 221, Bottas 217, Verstappen 191

Mercedes 563, Ferrari 497, Red Bull 337, Renault 106, Haas 84

RS
Formula 1 All the Races