F1: Kimi Raikkonen defies doubters as Lewis Hamilton waits for title
What we learned from the United States Grand Prix in Austin
Raikkonen reigns in Texas
All eyes were on Lewis Hamilton at the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix amid speculation that the Mercedes star would secure the 2018 title. Yet it was Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen who celebrated victory in Austin.
Hamilton went to the US knowing that he could wrap up the championship by outscoring Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by eight points at the Circuit of the Americas. But the British driver’s third-place finish and Vettel’s fourth meant the title battle will continue in Mexico.
One man who did enjoy the US GP was the “Flying Finn” Raikkonen. His victory on Sunday was his first for 2,044 days and 113 races.
Raikkonen won the 2007 title with Ferrari but will leave the Italian team at the end of this season when he moves to Sauber.
The 39-year-old “typically downplayed the result” in Texas, insisting the win was “not a big deal”, F1.com reports. He said: “It’s a much bigger deal for a lot of the people. If it comes, it comes. If it doesn’t, it really doesn’t change my life one bit.
“I’m happy we are here and that we win but I think the biggest difference is the way people look at you. If you look at people in a different way if they win or not, it doesn’t make a lot of difference in my mind. But obviously I’m happy, just proving some people wrong is enough fun for me.”
Seventh will do it in Mexico
Hamilton may have missed out on winning the title last weekend but he will get another opportunity next Sunday at the F1 Mexican GP.
With three races left in the season, the British driver is now 70 points ahead of Vettel, with 75 points still up for grabs. The 33-year-old can secure the 2018 championship - a fifth career F1 title - with a seventh-placed finish or higher in Mexico City.
Following the race in the US, Hamilton admitted he was surprised to have finished third. He told Sky Sports: “We made it so hard for ourselves. I’m not really quite sure how the strategy ended up like that.
“Naturally, I thought we would be able to do better. It’s a little bit of a surprise, but you can’t always get it right.”
Mixed fortunes for Red Bull drivers
Despite starting the race from 18th on the grid, Max Verstappen put in a superb drive to finish in second place for Red Bull.
The 21-year-old was named driver of the day in the US and afterwards tweeted: “Wow! From P18 to P2. Unexpected, but very happy! We had a great race pace and the right strategy, thank you @redbullracing. And thanks to all fans for voting me Driver of the Day.”
Meanwhile, it was a forgettable race for Verstappen’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian, who will leave Red Bull for Renault next season, was forced to retire in Austin because of car failure.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Sky Sports that Ricciardo was not happy. Horner said: “I feel so sorry for him because it looks like the identical power unit failure that he had in Bahrain. He was driving a strong grand prix. I’m sure he will be having a word with his future employers about it.
“He has just taken his frustration out in his room by putting his fist through a wall and you can totally relate to that. He knows the team isn’t to blame in any way, we are doing all we can.”