Austin: Lewis Hamilton was forced to wait for a fifth world title after he finished third at the US Grand Prix Sunday as Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen took a first victory in more than five years. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished second after starting in 18th place.
Title rival Sebastian Vettel in another Ferrari was fourth meaning the championship race will probably be decided in Mexico next weekend instead.
Hamilton now leads Vettel by 70 points and with 75 remaining in the final three races he can clinch his fifth title by finishing seventh in Mexico, if Vettel wins. If Vettel fails to win, Hamilton will be champion.
“Congratulations to Kimi, and great job from Max too. This was the best we could do today, and it was great that we got to do some racing,” said Hamilton who had started on pole position and was looking for a sixth win at the Circuit of the Americas.
Raikkonen, whose last win was at the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, was deadpan. “Obviously I’m much happier than finishing second. It’s been a great weekend and the car has been pretty good all the time,” said the 39-year-old Finn.
Raikkonen, who will leave Ferrari for Sauber at the end of the season, claimed the lead on the opening lap and rode his luck in a strategic and tactical race to claim the 21st victory of his career.
It was his first win in 113 races, the longest period between wins in F1 history, breaking the previous record held by Italian Riccardo Patrese.
Raikkonen came home 1.3 seconds ahead of Verstappen with Hamilton finishing a further second adrift after failing to battle past the Dutchman in the final laps. Vettel recovered from an opening lap spin to keep is slender title hopes alive.
Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was fifth ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and his Renault teammate Carlos Sainz. Esteban Ocon of Force India came home eighth ahead of Kevin Magnussen of Haas and Sergio Perez in the second Force India.