Sky F1’s Martin Brundle on how Kimi Raikkonen claimed a popular win at the US GP – and how Ferrari made all the correct strategy plays:
Scuderia Ferrari Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen took a very popular win in Texas, some 113 races after his last victory in 2013 and, impressively, well over 15 years since the first of his now 21 victories. That’s staying power for you, the Iceman is clearly one glacier which is not melting.
Kimi brilliantly wins, steps out of the Ferrari, takes off crash helmet. I step in with mic as per my job. His pulse must run at 40 at all times, antifreeze for blood. Slightly sweaty bemused calm, least excited person around me. That’s why fans love him, he’s unique. 👏👏
Another nasty stat, but satisfying moment, was that Kimi made up a place on the opening lap of a race for the first time in close to two years by muscling it out with Lewis Hamilton away from the start and making the best of his ultrasoft tyres.
Unlike his team-mate Sebastian Vettel. The three-place grid drop for his red flag speeding misdemeanour in a wet Friday practice was tough but consistent with the rules and other precedents this year. There’s no point rushing a red flag in-lap on a rainy day, or any day, and it must have seemed painfully slow but the other 18 drivers on track managed the information available to them.
Behind was general chaos in the midfield with contact between Lance Stroll, Fernando Alonso, Romain Grosjean and Charles Leclerc among other scuffles. Carlos Sainz was penalised for running wide in T1 and gaining a lasting advantage but I couldn’t see what he did differently to some others in the first corner or indeed the first lap.
In the closing stages it became clear that Kimi, Max and Lewis would be on the podium, but we had no idea in which order. You can never have too much Lewis v Max, and the young Dutchman won this encounter with clever placement of his car, and not the late change of direction tactics he used in his early F1 days. He’s brilliantly established himself in the psyche of others to be approached with caution. Just as Ayrton Senna did.
As Lewis ran wide in the very corner in which Max was penalised last year for undertaking Kimi, the scene was then set for Kimi to be totally underwhelmed by winning a great race. It was bittersweet for Ferrari, they had a car fast enough to win but their championship contender only finished 4th.
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