US Grand Prix: 6 things you need to know as Kimi makes Hamilton wait
Take a deep breath, have a lie down in a darkened room, and let your heart rate return to normal.
What. A. Race.
Lewis Hamilton did not do enough to pick up his fifth world title, but it was drama, thrills and tension all the way – and in the end it was won by a man who must have forgotten what the top step of the podium looked like.
Here’s how it all shook out, and what it means…
1. Kimi won. Kimi won!
Yep. Kimi won. He actually won. For the first time in 113 races, Kimi Raikkonen won – and in great style.
Starting from second on the grid, he got a great start and managed to take the lead from pole man Lewis Hamilton going into turn one (the first time he’d gained a place on lap one in a staggering 37 grands prix).
He then ran at the front until his one and only pit stop, after which he made his way back to the front, and there he stayed, despite a very tense last 15 laps when Max Verstappen was breathing down his neck, who in turn had Hamilton right on his shoulder.
The top three were all in the same camera shot as we went into the final few laps, but ultimately Kimi was able to keep his cool and take the chequered flag.
A hugely popular win for the Iceman in his last few races with Ferrari.
“F***ing finally,” was his response over the radio. Couldn’t have put it better myself, Kimi.
2. Ferrari make Hamilton wait for title No 5
This race had 'Hamilton win' written all over it. He’d won the last four races in a row, he’d won the last four US GPs in a row, he’s driving beautifully, and he had a title to wrap up.
He had to win and hope Sebastian Vettel didn’t come second, and that fifth championship would be his.
But after being beaten into turn one by Kimi, Mercedes seemed to get the tyre strategy wrong, opting for a two stop instead of Kimi’s one.
His final stop left him fourth, just ahead of Vettel. Valterri Bottas let him through into third and he then closed the gap on Verstappen, but on the penultimate lap a failed overtaking move on the Dutchman saw Lewis run wide, and his challenge for the win was over.
It means the title will have to wait for another day, but Lewis didn’t seem too concerned – after all, he’s got three more races, so this is a case of delaying the inevitable rather than changing the picture. The bigger question must be asked about the strategy call that left Lewis having to fight his way back at that late stage of the race.
3. Vettel spins *AGAIN*
He was aiming for a win, or at the very least second place, to prevent Lewis being crowned at this race.
But it all went wrong for Vettel after another botched lap one overtaking manoeuvre ended in him spinning off track and facing the wrong way.
Starting fifth, he tried to go around Daniel Ricciardo on the opening lap, but once again he misjudged it, tagged the Red Bull, and spun off and down into 14th place. Sadly for the German, it was typical of how his title challenge has disappeared in the second half of this season, and he really needs to take a look at his race craft this winter, because far too often this year it has not been good enough.
You can argue that Ferrari have given him the car this year to win the championship, but that his mistakes have seen the title disappear in a cloud of silver smoke.
He did battle back to fourth place with a move on Bottas on the last lap, but given Hamilton failed to win or get second, it made no difference.
After the race he said: “Im getting tired of recovery drives.” Indeed, Seb. Indeed.
4. What does Hamilton need in Mexico?
So Lewis is not quite the 2018 champ yet, but the champers will surely be on ice next weekend in the Mercedes garage in Mexico when he will surely wrap it up.
All he needs there is a seventh-place finish and it matters not what Vettel does.
Even if he doesn't score a point, Vettel must win to keep it alive for another race.
5. Max stars again
After he damaged the car hitting the sausage kerbs in qualifying and had to change his gearbox, Max Verstappen started the race down in 18th.
From there he drove a superb race to finish an incredible second place – ahead of pole man Lewis, and Valtteri Bottas, neither of whom had any big issues.
After a tricky first half of the year, Max really looks like he’s maturing into a proper force who is ready to lead that Red Bull team next year. Let’s just hope Honda can give him an engine to fight at the very front with. Could he be Lewis’s big title rival next year?
6. Danny can’t catch a break
In contrast, there was more misery for his team-mate Daniel Ricciardo who once again retired from the race with a power problem. It’s his seventh DNF of the year and he looked thoroughly sick of it after the race.
See you next weekend in Mexico...