Champagne on ice for Hamilton as Kimi rolls back years

Tyler Owen
October 22, 2018

Hamilton is on the verge of equaling the five world championship crowns won by the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio, the Mercedes driver only needing to outscore rival Sebastian Vettel on Sunday in Austin to achieve the feat.

Raikkonen's most previous win had been with Lotus at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in 2013.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen also beat Hamilton, who will have to wait until the race in Mexico next weekend to have another chance of clinching the title.

Despite posting the sixth fastest time of the day, Hartley will start in dead last on the grid, while Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton will lead the pack as he looks to seal the driver's championship.

If Hamilton takes the chequered flag, and Vettel fails to finish runner-up, the Briton will wrap up the title with three rounds remaining.

Vettel will start the race from fifth position.

Kimi Raikkonen was third-fastest in the second Ferrari ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes with Daniel Ricciardo fifth for Red Bull.

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But Hamilton and Mercedes appeared to grab back the initiative when they chose to pit under an early virtual safety vehicle period on lap 11, when the cars are controlled to a certain lap time. Interestingly - and sensibly from Ferrari's point of view - the Finn will start on the quicker but less durable ultrasoft tyres whilst Hamilton - and Bottas and Vettel - will start on the red-marked supersoft tyres.

Raikkonen: "It has been a great weekend". "The tires were not in the best shape, but I think they were a bit similar to Max's".

"Considering there's been some Q3s in the past races where I have had to bail out, the second one as it was not good enough - I was very strict with myself today, to pull through the second lap. It is was it is", Vettel said. Vettel was just.061 seconds behind.

Sebastian Vettel's punishment of a three-place grid drop for the United States Grand Prix and licence penalty points is "quite harsh", Toro Rosso Formula 1 driver Pierre Gasly believes. "I think at the start, with the softer tyre, Kimi should have the upper hand but it depends on the temperature of the tarmac, but the difference [between how good the start is] can be in metres".

It took him until Lap 51 to get within one second of Verstappen and gain DRS, but the Dutchman was likewise closely tailing Raikkonen in the lead, neutralizing the advantage.

"That was close and I didn't know how close it was going to be when we got down to it", said Hamilton.

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