Kimi Raikkonen broke a 113-race winless streak to take his first Formula 1 win since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix Sunday as the title battle between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel continues to Mexico next weekend.
Raikkonen broke the record for the largest gap between race wins in a race that had it all. Previously the record was held by Ricardo Patrese at 99-races. And on a day when the championship could have been wrapped up, it was the Finn who stole the headlines.
“It’s been a great weekend,” said Raikkonen. “I think the car’s been pretty good all of the time. I got a good start and needed to push hard. I mean, I was battling a few times and in the end the tires were not in the best shape, but I think it was a bit similar for Max (Verstappen) and obviously Lewis had more tires left by the end.
“We had enough speed and we kept it consistent and just tried to keep the tires alive so, (it’s been) a long time but here we are again.”
Reminded of the gap between wins of 2044-days, the typically understated Raikkonen added, “Obviously I’m much happier than finishing second but you know, I’m happy but let’s see later on.”
Raikkonen made his biggest gain during an early virtual safety car period after Daniel Riccardo lost an engine. Staying out on the ultra-soft tire that he had started the race on Hamilton pitted for a set of soft tires which Mercedes thought would get them to the end of the race. It initially seemed like a mistake as Hamilton tore up the track setting lap record after lap record until he again reappeared on Raikkonen’s gearbox.
Pitting 15-laps later than Hamilton, Raikkonen then had a turn of speed himself but Mercedes early stop came back to haunt them as Hamilton suffered significant rear blistering which resulted in the need for a second stop.
By the end of the race, Verstappen and Hamilton were both crawling over his rear wing but for the first time in a few races, it was the Ferrari strategists who came out on top.
“I think it was obviously coming in at the right time and having enough tires at both times, so it was a big balancing act,” Raikkonen said. “But we did it pretty well, well enough to win and it was a great battle. I think that’s what we all want as drivers and also as people here.”
The race for the championship may not be over but Vettel must now outscore Hamilton by 21-points in Mexico after finishing fourth at COTA if the championship race is to continue on to the penultimate round of the season in Brazil.
|1||Kimi Raikkonen||Scuderia Ferrari||34:18.6|
|2||Max Verstappen||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||1.281|
|3||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport||2.342|
|4||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari||18.222|
|5||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport||24.744|
|6||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault Sport Formula One Team||+1:27.210|
|7||Carlos Sainz||Renault Sport Formula One Team||+1:34.994|
|8||Esteban Ocon||Racing Point Force India F1 Team||+1:39.288|
|9||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team||+1:40.657|
|10||Sergio Perez||Racing Point Force India F1 Team||+1:41.080|
|11||Brendon Hartley||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda||+1 Lap|
|12||Marcus Ericsson||Alfa Romeo SauberF1 Team||+1 Lap|
|13||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren F1 Team||+1 Lap|
|14||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda||+1 Lap|
|15||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams Martini Racing||+1 Lap|
|16||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing||+2 Laps|
|17||Charles Leclerc||Alfa Romeo SauberF1 Team||DNF|
|18||Daniel Ricciardo||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||DNF|
|19||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team||DNF|
|20||Fernando Alonso||McLaren F1 Team||DNF|
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