Race Report: Raikkonen wins US Grand Prix

Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

It was looking to be a bleak weekend for Ferrari heading into Austin for the United States Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel had garnered a 3-place grid penalty on Friday’s first practice session and the Merc’s looked quick albeit in the rain.

The soggy Friday left only Saturday’s practice session in the dry and this was precious little time for teams to harvest data and allow them good insight into how the tires would react for an anticipated dry race. As Sunday came around, the sun, heat and dry weather appeared but with Vettel starting 5th and Lewis Hamilton on pole, it looked as if he could take his fifth world championship in Austin Texas at the Circuit of the Americas and win the race for the fifth time in a row.

Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

In the end, it was not Lewis’s day because this day belonged to Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen who did precisely what he needed to do to not only help Sebastian Vettel by denying Lewis the win but also securing the first victory at the US Grand Prix for Ferrari since 2006 when Michael Schumacher did it. Kimi’s win and Lewis finishing behind Max Verstappen for third place means that his 5th title will have to wait until the Mexican Grand Prix next weekend. Lewis will need to beat Seb by 5 points in Mexico to take his 5th title.


A huge win for Kimi Raikkonen who hasn’t won since Australian in 2013 and breaks the record for longest winless drought. The last win for Kimi happened when Lewis only had one title to his name. Kimi’s had 30 podiums since his 2013 win but no victories until today and the drive he put in was the drive his fans knew he was capable of. No errors, defending from Hamilton on dodgy tires and effectively costing Lewis enough time to put him third on the podium behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Ferrari’s strategy team gets a win today for ignoring the free Virtual Safety Car pit stop on lap 11 and keeping Kimi out. At the time, it seemed like a no-brainer to box Kimi but Ferrari either knew better or reacted better to recover from a strategy error. Either way, they didn’t box Vettel and one could argue they should have but in the end, Kimi’s defensive driving cost Lewis the win, handed Raikkonen the win and protected Vettel’s points deficit for another race.

Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

A big win for Max Verstappen who took his Red Bull car from 18th to 2nd in the race. A strong performance and level-headed drive when being seriously hounded by Lewis who desperately needed second place to win the title (at the time as Vettel hadn’t passed Valtteri Bottas yet). A brilliant performance from the young Dutchman!

A win for Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz despite the Spaniard garnering a 5s penalty for running wide at turn one on the first lap. The Renault duo finished 6th and 7th and they were fighting hometown heroes, Haas F1, for 5th in the constructor’s championship so the points haul it massive for the team.

Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

A good race for Brendon Hartley who is trying to convince the F1 world that he should stay at Toro Rosso by finishing 11th while the much-vaunted Pierre Gasly was a distant 14th.

A big win for Formula fans who were treated to a terrific race with three teams fighting for the win.


On one hand, you have to hand it to Sebastian Vettel who managed a recovery drive that didn’t just bank on Max keeping Lewis in third as Vettel passed Bottas for 4th in the waning laps to keep his head above water in the title fight. Despite what was otherwise a terrific drive, Vettel once again put himself in the position of needing heroics in order to survive. No one loves heroics more than I but a team or driver shouldn’t continually have to deliver heroics to win a title. Was it Sebastian’s fault that he collided with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo? The stewards didn’t see it that way and nor did I. Seb desperately needed that position and ran out of corner when Dan was holding his position. A similar pass attempt happened later with Hamilton and Verstappen but Lewis backed out and ran wide. The stewards reviewed and felt neither driver was a fault.

Mercedes didn’t get the entire weekend put together and missed their chance to close Lewis’s 5th title in Austin. The strategy didn’t play out for the team and the lack of running in dry, warm weather on Friday simply didn’t give them enough data to know how their Soft tires would react to long stints. To be fair, it seemed to be a logical call to bring Lewis in for a free stop under the VSC but as it turns out, Ferrari covered that strategy, knew Mercedes were going to have to two-stop Lewis and Kimi’s defensive driving put the nail in their coffin. Lewis drive a great race but the USGP turned into a close fight between three teams and a chess match on unknown tires for Mercedes.

Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1


Equally, a fail for strategy with Valtteri Bottas who couldn’t make much of a 1-stop strategy, hence the reason for the 2-stopper for Lewis. Valtteri couldn’t hold off Vettel and finished 5th.

A fail for Lance Stroll who managed to ruin Fernando Alonso’s while Romain Grosjean decided to ruin Charles Leclerc’s race.


A WTH for the issues that Daniel Ricciardo is having with reliability while Max isn’t. Same car, same engine but Dan seems to have the worst of it when it comes to power unit failure and that can’t be giving him big confidence in his employer next year. Dan punched a hole in the wall of his room in the motorhome such was his frustration. One wonders what may have happened if Dan had the car to finish the race? Surely in the podium mix given Max’s pace.

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A WTH for Sergey Sirotkin who was setting some terrific lap times early on to fade to the very back with his naughty teammate, Lance Stroll.

Also, a WTH for Mercedes who were allowed to change water pumps in both cars while in Parc Fermé condition…I didn’t think that was allowed.

Photo by: www.kymilman.com/f1

US Grand Prix Results

1Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1h34m18.643s
2Max VerstappenRed Bull/Renault1.281s
3Lewis HamiltonMercedes2.342s
4Sebastian VettelFerrari18.222s
5Valtteri BottasMercedes24.744s
6Nico HulkenbergRenault1m27.210s
7Carlos SainzRenault1m34.994s
8Esteban OconForce India/Mercedes1m39.288s
9Kevin MagnussenHaas/Ferrari1m40.657s
10Sergio PerezForce India/Mercedes1m41.080s
11Brendon HartleyToro Rosso/Honda1 Lap
12Marcus EricssonSauber/Ferrari1 Lap
13Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren/Renault1 Lap
14Pierre GaslyToro Rosso/Honda1 Lap
15Sergey SirotkinWilliams/Mercedes1 Lap
16Lance StrollWilliams/Mercedes2 Laps
Charles LeclercSauber/FerrariRetirement
Daniel RicciardoRed Bull/RenaultRetirement
Romain GrosjeanHaas/FerrariCollision
Fernando AlonsoMcLaren/RenaultCollision

Driver Championship

1Lewis Hamilton346
2Sebastian Vettel276
3Kimi Raikkonen221
4Valtteri Bottas217
5Max Verstappen191
6Daniel Ricciardo146
7Nico Hulkenberg61
8Kevin Magnussen55
9Sergio Perez54
10Esteban Ocon53
11Fernando Alonso50
12Carlos Sainz45
13Romain Grosjean31
14Pierre Gasly28
15Charles Leclerc21
16Stoffel Vandoorne8
17Lance Stroll6
18Marcus Ericsson6
19Brendon Hartley2
20Sergey Sirotkin1

Constructor Championship

3Red Bull/Renault337
7Force India/Mercedes48
8Toro Rosso/Honda30
Overall Race
race-report-raikkonen-wins-us-grand-prixA terrific race that saw three teams fight for the win and a championship on the line with both Lewis trying hard to win it and Sebastian deploying heroics to recover from disaster while Kimi stole the show.
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Win for Verstappen owning that fire suit! When in Texas………..

Heath Newland



Credit Will Buxton for this observation, a big hats off to Kimi!!

“Just watched the podium back and so impressed with the respect Raikkonen showed Gen. John M Murray. Often forget Kimi, like all Finns, did military service. His sudden cap removal when he realised who was shaking his hand was a really classy moment.”


Vettel played it off in his post-race interview like the collision was all Ricciardo’s fault, but it looked to me like it was all Vettel. You could see on Seb’s onboard that he countersteers hard to the left right before the collision. When you try to pass on the inside like that, you better be damn sure you can actually hold to the inside line, and this is two races in a row where Vettel couldn’t. He also had a pretty telling comment where he said something like “Ricciardo would have had me on the next corner anyways” which means… Read more »


Small correction Todd on the comment: “Lewis will need to beat Seb by 5 points in Mexico to take his 5th title.”

Lewis is 70 points ahead of Sebastian
There are three races left with a maximum of 25 points/win = 75 points

Lewis only has to finish 7th or better in one race (to score 6 points in total) to win the Driver’s Championship. He doesn’t need to outscore Sebastian anywhere else this season


Actually, I think the math is a little more complicated than that. A 7th on Hamilton’s part would make it mathematically impossible for Vettel to overtake him. But Vettel also needs to win out. A double DNF collision (to give a very extreme and unlikely example) would crown Hamilton champion. Perhaps of more concern for Ferrari, if either Red Bull pulls off a win next week, it doesn’t matter if Lewis even starts the race, he’s still won. To get really into the weeds of unlikely scenarios, does anyone know how a points total tie is handled? Vettel winning out… Read more »


Yeah, either Hamilton has to pick up 6 points, or Vettel has to leave 6 points on the table. Since the gap between first and second is 7 points, anything less than sweeping the table with three victories would guarantee Hamilton a title.

The tiebreaker is most race wins. If that’s tied, it trickles down to most second-place finishes, then most third-place finishes, and so on until the tie is broken.


If you want to know how to measure the reaction to Kimi’s win, you need look no further than my wife. Normally hardly watching, fussing around the house asking, “Mercedes again?” and going about her business. This time? She was on the edge of her seat, cursing Ferrari if they goofed up on Kimi once again – they didn’t for once – and when Kimi crossed the line? She punched my arm and let out a yell. Joy around this household – long overdue joy.
Yeah, and Ferrari are trading him away… great for the sport… not.


Kimi finally lucks in with a win after 5 years.
Bring on Lecrec I say.

Dan Cooper

Kudos to NC for placing Vettel (excessively gently perhaps) in the fail column. I wanted him to win this year but – maybe since I’ve never ridden in a car with him – it’s been obvious to me for awhile (Azerbaijan 2017) he can’t take the pressure of competing with Lewis and is consistently sh**ing in his mess kit. NC’s been kindly putting some of the blame on the car, but with Kimi taking that same car to the house while Vettel smacks it on whatever’s handy (AGAIN) I think the time for speculation is over. Certainly it is for… Read more »

Dan Cooper

I don’t entirely disagree, in that nothing’s entirely simple. And you’re right that SV has done heroic things, like when he stayed in a race with no front brakes and masterfully gathered the points he could without crashing while in a title chase. He’s a special talent, I’m a big fan and I wanted him to win the championship. But he also collapsed in the face of Daniel Ricciardo, and blew the title chase last year by losing his sh*t and road raging his car into Lewis Hamilton behind the safety car. And keep this in mind we’re not talking… Read more »