Austin’s Circuit of the Americas played host to the 40th Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, its seventh since joining the calendar in 2012…
… and what a thriller it was, with Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen taking his first win for 113 races: a nail biter, with the Finn holding off Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton to the chequered flag.
At lights out, polesitter Hamilton got a great start and moved right to try and cover off Räikkönen, but the Finn got past into Turn 1, with Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel behind.
Vettel got past Ricciardo for fourth place down the back straight, but the Australian came back at him into Turn 12 – the pair went wheel-to-wheel, touched lightly at Turn 13 and Vettel spun, dropping him back to 15th.
Up front, Räikkönen and Hamilton traded fastest laps – while Verstappen was up to fifth from 18th on the grid by Lap 9, when his teammate Daniel Ricciardo retired at the exit of Turn 11, triggering the Virtual Safety Car.
On Lap 10, Hamilton was told to do the opposite to Räikkönen, and he stopped on the following lap, despite a dummy move from the Finn. He then exited the pits ahead of Verstappen in P3, with Ferrari sure he was on a two-stop strategy.
On Lap 14, Hamilton went past Bottas for second, and set about chasing Räikkönen, using up life from his softs until the Finn’s stop on Lap 21.
Hamilton now led Bottas, with a 17-second gap – needing 20 to pit again, but couldn’t hold the pace on older softs as Raikkonen and Verstappen reeled him in, forcing the Brit to pit for a second time on Lap 37.
Hamilton exited the pits in fourth, and with second needed to clinch the title should Vettel finish fifth – he needed to pass Bottas and Verstappen ahead, overtaking his teammate down the back straight on Lap 40.
It was then a three-way fight, with Hamilton chasing down Verstappen – and with two laps to go, the Dutchman outbraked himself into Turn 12, enabling Hamilton to go wheel to wheel through the following complex, but the Brit went off track at Turn 18 - destroying his chances.
Enough to give Räikkönen some breathing space, and his first win since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix.