[F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX: RACE REVIEW

Formula 1 news story about [F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX: RACE REVIEW

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen has won the United States Grand Prix, taking his first victory for 113 races - leading the charge for the Scuderia in a thrilling race that saw the Finn holding off charges from Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton until the chequered flag, the top-three finishing within 2.3 seconds.

All on a day when his teammate Sebastian Vettel was again caught up in a spin that dropped him back, and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was denied a chance to secure his fifth world title on American soil. The Brit now having to wait until at least Mexico next week.

Raikkonen had a lightning start on the softer ultrasofts, taking the lead from polesitter Hamilton into Turn 1 - and kept the Brit behind, staying out when Hamilton pitted on Lap 12. He pitted from the lead on Lap 22, but was not held up by Vettel ahead who let him through to take advantage of his soft tyre pace.

“It’s been a great weekend,” Raikkonen said. “I think the car has been pretty good all the time. I got a good start, and I needed to push hard. I mean It was flat-out a few times, and in the end the tyres were not in the best shape but I think it was a bit similar to Max. Obviously Lewis had a bit more tyres for the end but we had enough speed and we kept it consistent and just tried to keep the tyres alive until the end. Long time, but here we are.”

Verstappen fought back from 18th on the grid to second, undercutting Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas - but had strong pace through to the end, even challenging for the lead. Hamilton completed the podium, having made an early pit stop on Lap 11 under the virtual safety car, which required a second pit stop later in the race.

The sport now heads south to Mexico City for next weekend’s Mexico Grand Prix, which is run back-to-back with Austin. Hamilton now only needs seventh place there to clinch his fifth world championship.

POS NO DRIVER CAR LAPS TIME/RETIRED PTS
1 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 56 1:34:18.643 25
2 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 56 +1.281s 18
3 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 56 +2.342s 15
4 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 56 +18.222s 12
5 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 56 +24.744s 10
6 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 56 +87.210s 8

Here’s how the FORMULA 1 2018 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX played-out lap-by-lap:

Build Up:
There’s plenty of excitement ahead of the potential championship decider, and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton stands on the cusp of a fifth world championship - matching the late, great Juan Manuel Fangio - and all he has to do is outscore rival, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by eight or more points. That’s all the maths you need you know for the title to be sealed in the USA. Hamilton starts from pole at the Circuit of the Americas for the third-straight year, his ninth pole of 2018 and 81st overall.

However, Vettel has it all to do - after earning a 3-place grid penalty on Friday for failing to slow down enough under red flag conditions. He starts fifth with a quick car - Ferrari removing more updates and going back to what it had in Belgium, having gone down a blind alley performance-wise in the races since. His teammate Kimi Raikkonen has important work to do at the start, though, as the Finn starts second on ultrasoft tyres (against those around him on supersofts) so will want to get ahead of Hamilton at the start His countryman Valtteri Bottas starts third behind Hamilton, and he will have the clean side of the grid to try and take second into Turn 1.

In fourth it’s Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo, who has outqualified his teammate Max Verstappen for just the second time since Monaco, the Australian benefitted from Vettel’s 3-place penalty to start one slot better. There’s two Racing Point Force Indias in the top-10 with Esteban Ocon starting sixth as the best of the rest, and Sergio Perez in 10th. American team Haas also looks forward to a strong home race with Romain Grosjean starting P8, and Kevin Magnussen P12.

We’re also expecting an exciting fightback drive from Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, who starts P18 after breaking his suspension over a kerb in qualifying - which further required a gearbox change. Could we see a repeat of Russia, where Verstappen went from P19 on the grid to fifth at the end? His Red Bull stablemates, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley, start behind him with both taking new power units that should prove Honda’s potential into 2019.

Naturally, there’ll be plenty of unknowns into Turn 1. But strategically, the race should be a one-stop with the fastest way to the chequered flag for those on the supersoft tyres. Go to Lap 22, then onto the softs. For those on the ultrasofts, it’s a shorter first stint - stop around Lap 16, then onto the softs. But a safety car could change all that. The weather should stay dry, with ambient temperature 20 degrees, track temp 27. A lot of unknowns as to long run pace, with Friday wet throughout practice.

Formation Lap:
Hamilton (P1), Bottas (P3), Ricciardo (P4), and Vettel (P5) start on the supersofts - with Raikkonen in P2 on the ultrasofts. The balance of the top-10 are on ultrasofts. The rest of the field are on supersofts, with the exception of Ericsson (P16) and Verstappen (P18) on the softs.

Lap 1:
Polesitter Hamilton, who’s won six of the last seven races, gets a good start, he cuts Kimi Off - but the Finn gets ahead for the lead and Bottas is into third, then it’s Ricciardo and Vettel. There’s been a few cars off behind. Vettel passes Ricciardo into the hairpin. And Vettel spins! He’s down to P15. This is amazing!

Lap 2:
So it’s Raikkonen, Hamilton, Bottas, Ricciardo, and Hulkenberg. Verstappen is up to P9. Leclerc, Stroll, Grosjean and Alonso all pitted at the end of Lap 1.

Lap 3:
Raikkonen leads Hamilton by 2.3 seconds, setting the fastest lap, a 1:40.368. First lap incidents under investigation. DRS enabled. Bottas in P3 is 2.8 seconds behind his teammate. Hamilton is chasing the Finn in P4. Then it’s the two Renaults with Hulkenberg and Sainz in P5 and P6. Vettel is in P13, and passes Hartley for P12 into the hairpin.

Lap 4:
Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:40.302, he’s 2.1 seconds behind Raikkonen in P2. Alonso and Stroll colliding.

Lap 5:
Verstappen up to P7. Grosjean retired after damage on Lap 1. Raikkonen leads Hamilton by 1.2 seconds, he’s complaining of right rear grip. Vettel is into the points and 10th.

Lap 6:
Raikkonen sets the fastest lap, a 1:40.126. He’s 1.9 seconds ahead of Hamilton. Stroll get a drive-through penalty for colliding with Alonso. Verstappen in P7 is lining up Sainz, half a second the gap. Ferrari tells Raikkonen no issues with the right rear. Stroll takes his penalty.

Lap 7:
So we’re seeing Raikkonen lead Hamilton, the lead pair in their own fight, with Bottas trailing, with Ricciardo chasing hard behind. Verstappen has passed Sainz, and is now chasing Hulkenberg. Grosjean and Leclerc incident will be investigated after the race. Verstappen passes Hulkenberg for P5 at the hairpin.

Lap 8:
Raikkonen leads Hamilton by 2.1 seconds. Bottas is 5.2 seconds behind his teammate.

Lap 9:
Raikkonen leads, but was half a second slower on that last lap. Lap 1 incident between Vettel and Ricciardo no further action. Ricciardo has retired at the exit of the hairpin.

Lap 10:
So the order is Raikkonen, Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen and Hulkenberg for the top-five. Then it’s Sainz, Vettel, Ocon, Perez and Magnussen who close out the top-10. Ricciardo looks completely in disbelief of his bad luck.

Lap 11:
Virtual Safety Car was deployed after Ricciardo retired. Vettel is now in P6. Ricciardo’s car is yet to be removed from the track. Hamilton will box opposite to Raikkonen, he’s been told by his team.

Lap 12:
Hamilton pits, despite Raikkonen’s bluff. He’s onto the softs, and comes out in P3 ahead of Verstappen. So Raikkonen leads Bottas and Hamilton, then it’s Verstappen. VSC stood down. Has Ferrari missed a trick in not pitting? Vettel is in P6. Raikkonen told Hamilton is on two-stops.

Lap 13:
Raikkonen leads Bottas by 5.2 seconds, then Hamilton is 2.8 seconds behind - with Bottas told not to hold him up. Perez in P9 is chasing his teammate Ocon, 0.4 seconds the gap.

Lap 14:
Raikkonen leads, and sets the fastest lap then Hamilton - with a 1:38.860 and Hamilton gets past at Turn 1. He’s nine tenths faster than Raikkonen on that last lap, and 6.8 seconds adrift now.

Lap 15:
Hamilton continues to take time out of Raikkonen, 1.7 seconds faster on that last lap - he’s now 4.8 seconds behind and closing. Perez has asked if he can pass Ocon for P8, but the gap has extended so looks like that is a firm no. X

Lap 16:
Hamilton continues his chase on Raikkonen, just 3.6 seconds the gap. The Brit almost 2-seconds quicker on that last lap.

Lap 17:
Force India holding position, with Renault getting away up ahead. Raikkonen leads Hamilton by just 2.3 seconds, with the Brit a full second ahead on that last lap.

Lap 18:
Raikkonen leads Hamilton by just 1.8 seconds now, the Brit a full stop ahead and on harder tyres. Another second up on that last lap. Bottas in P3 does a personal best lap, with the Finn told Raikkonen’s lap times are dropping off. Sainz under investigation for leaving the track at Turn 1 on Lap 1 and gaining an advantage.

Lap 19:
Raikkonen under pressure now, he’s 1-second ahead of Hamilton and on degrading ultrasofts. Hamilton is now within DRS range. This is the battle of the race, and the championship.

Lap 20:
Hamilton has a look at Raikkonen into Turn 1, but stays behind through the esses. Will he take him down the back straight? Raikkonen stays ahead into Turn 12.

Lap 21:
Raikkonen stays ahead of Hamilton, less than half a second the gap. Sainz has a 5-second time penalty for leaving track and gaining an advantage. Hamilton not taking any risks in the battle.

Lap 22:
Raikkonen pits from the lead. He would not have been able to hold him back, he’s onto the softs. 2.3 second stop - and he exits in P5, behind Vettel who is yet to pit. So Hamilton now leads Bottas, and the Brit just set the fastest sector 1.

Lap 23:
Verstappen pits from P3, he’s onto the supersofts as well, and exits in P5 behind Raikkonen. So it’s Hamilton, Bottas, Vettel, Raikkonen and then Verstappen. And Mercedes is out in the pit lane.

Lap 24:
Bottas pits, he’s onto the softs - swift stop. He exits in P5, but locks up leaving pit lane - and Verstappen is past. Vettel going through traffic. Raikkonen has set the fastest lap, a 1:38.856, and now is Vettel holding him up?

Lap 25:
So it’s Hamilton, then Raikkonen and Vettel, Verstappen and Bottas but Vettel is the only one in the top-five who is yet to pit. Raikkonen passed for P2 into Turn 1.

Lap 26:
Hamilton, then Raikkonen who has set the fastest lap, a 1:38.742. 0.9 seconds faster than Hamilton. Vettel says his rears are done. Perez pits. Verstappen in P4 is all over the back of Vettel. This looks like a fantastic battle. Vettel told to box.

Lap 27:
Vettel pits from P3, releasing Verstappen - he takes on the softs, 3.2 second stop, so quite slow with a right rear issue. He exits in P5, 19-seconds behind Bottas. So after the pit stops, order is Hamilton, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Bottas and Vettel.

Lap 28:
Hamilton is 17-seconds ahead of Raikkonen, but does he have to stop again? Hartley pits from P9.

Lap 29:
Vettel in P5 sets the fastest lap, a 1:38.715. Hamilton out front is building his lead, 17.1 seconds ahead of Raikkonen. He needs at least 20-seconds to pit again.

Lap 30:
Order is Hamilton, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Bottas, Vettel, Magnussen, Hulkenberg, Sainz, Ocon, Ericsson, Sirotkin, Vandoorne, Perez, Gasly, Hartley, Leclerc, Stroll. Hamilton’s pace says second stop likely says Pirelli.

Lap 31:
Hamilton and Raikkonen doing similar mid 1:39s, the Brit just over a tenth faster on that last lap. The gap now 16.6 seconds.

Lap 32:
Hamilton looks to be in cruise mode, as he does a 1:40.1 - Raikkonen almost a second faster on that last lap, a 1:39.2. Vettel in P5 has done the fastest lap, a 1:38.575.

Lap 33:
Vettel in clean air, 13.1 seconds behind Bottas in P5. Leclerc told to retire the car, retiring for the second-straight race. Hamilton doesn’t have the pace to pit again and stay in the lead, with Hamilton now 14.1 seconds ahead of Raikkonen.

Lap 34:
Hamilton leads by 13.7 seconds, but is in the 1:41s. That’s 1.6 seconds slower than Raikkonen. Are Hamilton’s right rears blistering too much? Can he stay out?

Lap 35:
Hamilton now just 12-seconds ahead of Raikkonen, 1.6 seconds slower on that last lap. Vettel does the fastest lap, a 1:38.462. Hamilton’s rear tyres looking very blistered.

Lap 36:
Hamilton leads Raikkonen by 10.3 seconds. Vettel in P5 does another fastest lap, a 1:38.445. Hamilton not pitting as yet, will he allow Raikkonen to pass for the championship - with Verstappen 11.3 seconds behind in P3?

Lap 37:
Hamilton says tyres are blistering, but doesn’t sound too stressed. Hamilton pits. He’s onto another set of the softs. And he’s out into P4, with Bottas 4.8 seconds ahead.

Lap 38:
So it’s Raikkonen, Verstappen, Bottas and Hamilton, then Vettel in P5. Hamilton needs second to clinch the championship. He’s told “he just needs everything now”.

Lap 39:
Hamilton in P4 is 2.5 seconds behind his teammate.

Lap 40:
Hamilton sets the fastest lap, a 1:37.702. He’s on a mission to take second now. Hamilton is up into P3, at the end of the back straight. He’s 6.9 seconds adrift of Verstappen now.

Lap 41:
Hamilton sets another fastest lap, a 1:37.392. He’s 1.6 seconds faster than Verstappen ahead, 6-seconds the gap.

Lap 42:
Hamilton is now 5.3 seconds behind Verstappen, 1.2 seconds faster on that last lap. The Brit getting through traffic. Hamilton told he’s got a straight-line speed advantage.

Lap 43:
Raikkonen leads Verstappen then Hamilton, Bottas and Vettel. Hamilton worried he won’t have enough pace to pass Verstappen when the time comes. Hamilton 3.7 seconds behind Verstappen now.

Lap 44:
Only the top-10 on the lead lap. Hamilton is 3.3 seconds behind Verstappen. 113 races since Raikkonen’s last win. Hamilton just 2.9 seconds behind Verstappen.

Lap 45:
Verstappen has responded with 1:38.8, but Hamilton on a 1:38.1. 2.7 seconds the gap.

Lap 46:
Verstappen has set a personal best lap, 2.4 seconds the gap back to Hamilton.

Lap 47:
Raikkonen leads Verstappen by 1.8 seconds, then it’s Hamilton 1.9 seconds behind in P3.

Lap 48:
Hamilton almost within DRS range now, 1.1 seconds the gap.

Lap 49:
The thrilling battle is up front, Raikkonen, Verstappan and Hamilton - 2.4 seconds covering the top-three.

Lap 50:
Hamilton is in DRS range, but can he hold onto it through Turn 10 where the detection zone is?

Lap 51:
Hamilton is in DRS range, but can’t make it stick.

Lap 52:
The top-three looking strong, but Hamilton in P3 has dropped back just slightly.

Lap 53:
Hamilton looking a lot closer on this lap. He remains within DRS range. What a nail biting finish!

Lap 54:
The pair are going wheel to wheel and Hamilton goes wide onto the runoff from Turn 12 all the way through 16, 17 and 18.

Lap 55:
Vettel takes fourth at Turn 12 from Bottas, who goes wide.

Lap 56 - FINAL LAP:
Raikkonen takes his first 21st win in Formula 1 for 113 races, dating back to the 2013 Australian Grand Prix.

POS NO DRIVER CAR LAPS TIME/RETIRED PTS
1 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 56 1:34:18.643 25
2 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 56 +1.281s 18
3 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 56 +2.342s 15
4 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 56 +18.222s 12
5 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 56 +24.744s 10
6 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 56 +87.210s 8
7 55 Carlos Sainz RENAULT 56 +94.994s 6
DQ 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 56 +99.288s 0
DQ 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 56 +100.657s 0
8 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 56 +101.080s 4
9 28 Brendon Hartley SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 55 +1 lap 2
10 9 Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI 55 +1 lap 1
11 2 Stoffel Vandoorne MCLAREN RENAULT 55 +1 lap 0
12 10 Pierre Gasly SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 55 +1 lap 0
13 35 Sergey Sirotkin WILLIAMS MERCEDES 55 +1 lap 0
14 18 Lance Stroll WILLIAMS MERCEDES 54 +2 laps 0
NC 16 Charles Leclerc SAUBER FERRARI 31 DNF 0
NC 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 8 DNF 0
NC 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 2 DNF 0
NC 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN RENAULT 1 DNF 0

Post race, Ocon was excluded for exceeding fuel flow limits on Lap 1. Magnussen was excluded for consuming more than 105kg of fuel during the race.