Kimi Raikkonen saved the day for Ferrari as he clinched the win at the United States GP, his first in 113 races, while the two-stopping Lewis Hamilton was third to Sebastian Vettel’s P4.
The Mercedes driver lined up on pole position at the Circuit of the Americas with the supersoft Pirellis on his W09, which was fitted with a new water pump in the hours before the race. Kimi Raikkonen was on the ultrasofts with Valtteri Bottas on the supers.
Raikkonen used his softer rubber to get a flying start, taking P1 off Hamilton into the first corner. But while the Finn was having fun, his team-mate Sebastian Vettel attacked Daniel Ricciardo for fourth. The Aussie retook the position, Vettel faught back, tagged the Red Bull and spun. He dropped to P15.
VETTEL SPINS! 😱
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 21, 2018
Behind them Max Verstappen shot up from P18 to P9, Fernando Alonso and Romain Grosjean retired after first lap contact. Grosjean and Charles Leclerc made contact while Alonso’s collided with Lance Stroll. The Williams driver was handed a drive-through penalty with Carlos Sainz later hit with a five-second time penalty for leaving the track during his own lap 1 battle.
Ricciardo added his name to the retirement list when he parked his RB14 on the side of the track on lap 9. The car’s electronics shut down.
That brought out the Virtual Safety Car with Hamilton pulling in at the last moment. He came out P3 but was quickly up to second as Mercedes told Bottas to let him through. Verstappen was fourth ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Vettel.
Hamilton caught Raikkonen on lap 19 with the Finn telling Ferrari: “Let’s not do anything stupid.” With their pace dropping off dramatically, Hamilton tried twice to pass the Ferrari only for Raikkonen to hold fast – and then pit. Hamilton was leading on lap 22 ahead of Bottas, Verstappen, Vettel and Raikkonen.
Hamilton can almost reach out and touch Raikkonen
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 21, 2018
Verstappen was the next in followed by Bottas. Pitting one lap earlier gave Red Bull the undercut with Bottas emerging from his stop behind the Dutchman. Verstappen overtook Vettel on track with the German then pulling into the pits, stopping on lap 27. He came out P5 with the soft tyres on his SF71H. Hamilton was leading by 17s ahead of Raikkonen, Vettel was 42s off the pace.
Calling for blue flags, Hamilton’s lead was slashed to less than 9s in 10 laps with the Brit informing Mercedes of tyre issues. Vettel in the meantime was laying down fastest lap after fastest la to run 26s behind Vettel. Hamilton pitted for new softs on lap 37, coming out P4. That was soon P3 as once again Bottas gave way for his team-mate. Raikkonen was leading.
The final 10 laps saw Hamilton closing up on Verstappen and in turn Raikkonen – 4s covering the top three – while Vettel got within DRS range of Bottas. 1.9s separated the top three into the final five laps with Vettel struggling to close the final metres needed to try attack Bottas.
In a nail-biting finish Raikkonen held on to win the grand prix, his first win in 113 races or 2044 days, with Verstappen second and Hamilton third. Vettel passed Bottas on the penultimate lap to claim fourth place meaning the title race will go to Mexico.
Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz, Esteban Ocon and Kevin Magnussen all scored points for their teams with Sergio Perez completing the top ten.
1 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:40.338
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1.281s
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 2.342s
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 19.852s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 22.409s
6 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 85.711s
7 Carlos Sainz Renault 93.410s
8 Esteban Ocon Force India 96.484s
9 Kevin Magnussen Haas 97.582s
10 Sergio Perez Force India 98.748s
11 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1 lap
12 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1 lap
13 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1 lap
14 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1 lap
15 Sergey Sirotkin Williams 1 lap
16 Lance Stroll Williams 2 lap
Did not finish
Charles Leclerc Sauber lap 1 damage
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull
Romain Grosjean Haas crash
Fernando Alonso McLaren crash