[F1 2018 VIDEO FEATURE] KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN: AMERICAN VICTORY

Kimi Räikkönen has redeemed Ferrari, in one of its darkest moments with a stunning victory at the United States Grand Prix. His first since Australia 2013, and on the day he won his championship in 2007.

The Finn made the most of his front row start, taking the lead into Turn 1, and didn’t pit under the Virtual Safety Car, preferring to hold up rival Lewis Hamilton – who did, destroying the Brit’s tyres.

Räikkönen’s 21st Grand Prix victory puts him 15th on the all-time winners list. One ahead of two-time F1 World Champion Mika Häkkinen. Michael Schumacher leads the way on 91.

It was also the Flying Finn’s 50th podium for Ferrari, his 101st overall for fifth on the all-time list just five behind F1 icon Alain Prost.

Finally, his United States victory handed him a record for most time between first and last wins in the sport – which is 15 years, six months and 28 days; ahead of Schumacher, Prost, Niki Lauda and Hamilton.

2018 has been a far stronger season for Räikkönen, the Flying Finn on the pace, and able to lead the Scuderia at times, with his teammate and friend Sebastian Vettel suffering from a crisis of confidence.

SOUNDBITE (English) KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN,
2007 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“Of course, we try to beat each other on the circuit - but it's always been fair and we can openly work as one team. I think it’s beneficial for the team itself. Everybody wants to win, but we're [enjoying] in a very healthy competition."

The positive vibes have been flowing from the outset, when the Scuderia launched the new SF71H at Maranello and Räikkönen liked what he saw, as an early omen for strong performance.

SOUNDBITE (English) KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN,
2007 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“Of course, it’s a pleasure to be part of, again, a new Ferrari Formula 1 car presentation, and it looks nice. It looks nice, - and usually when it looks nice there’s the speed also.”

Austin was Räikkönen’s first trip to the podium since Monza, when he was told he wouldn’t be racing for Ferrari in 2019. A deal was soon sorted for him to return to Sauber, where he made his F1 debut in 2001.

And it was reflective of the Scuderia’s improved speed in the USA, with the Prancing Horse removing more updates – and reverting to a Belgium-spec car, with which Vettel won in Spa.

Regardless, America was a popular win for Räikkönen, who remains one of the sport’s most revered drivers. And with Vettel needing to win the last three Grands Prix to keep his world championship hopes alive, it could be the Finn’s last.

Räikkönen, however, is no stranger to the ups and downs of F1.

SOUNDBITE (English) KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN,
2007 F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
"I'm older, obviously, a bit more experienced. For sure it changes life, I hardly know car racing before, and nobody really much knew me, so I could live a very normal life. And it changes a lot - once you come to F1 but you obviously get used to everything. But, it’s gone very fast.”

It’s an incredible proposition, that in a season with Ferrari’s car the class of the field it’s Räikkönen not Vettel who has proven to be the far more reliable racer.

The 39-year-old, though, remains 13th on the all-time oldest race winners list, topped by Luigi Fagioli who won the 1951 French Grand Prix at the age of 53 years, and 22 days.

Räikkönen may not be the hard charger he was at McLaren, but he’s proved he’s still got the steel to compete with the very best. Something Ferrari needs right now, with Vettel shaken and a shadow of his former top gun self.