ESPN rounds up the main talking points from an entertaining U.S. Grand Prix, where Kimi Raikkonen claimed his first Formula One win since 2013 ahead of Max Verstappen meaning Lewis Hamilton will have to wait until next week’s Mexican Grand Prix to win his fifth world title.
Shock: When Sebastian Vettel spun out of contention (see below), I had no doubts in my mind Lewis Hamilton would be leaving Austin with the title. The fact he didn’t is a testimony to how good the race that followed was, especially the performances of the two men who eat him to victory in Austin. As for his main championship rival….
Shocker: We might re-name this the Sebastian Vettel Award in 2019. It’s remarkable how many errors he’s made this year and his clash with Daniel Ricciardo dropped him down the order in a race where there was an opportunity to get in the mix and fight the Mercedes drivers. Somehow, Vettel always comes off worse when he clashes with other drivers and it’s a part of his racecraft he’s going to have to work on if he wants to win a fifth world championship next year.
Raikkonen back on top: It’s been five long years since Raikkonen’s last win at the 2013 Australian Grand Prix. It’s hard to remember as popular a win as this. The Finn made a great start, diving down the inside of Hamilton at Turn 1, and then executed two beautiful stints to convert into victory. With a move to Sauber coming, he didn’t have many good chances left….
A megastar-in-waiting: The build-up to the weekend was all about how Hamilton was on the cusp of winning a fifth championship. He was denied that — for this week, at least — by a stunning performance by Max Verstappen late on.
The Dutchman is in the form of his life right now and his defensive and clean defence on Hamilton late on was absolutely thrilling. Just imagine what Verstappen is going to be able to do when he gets a front-running car.
Knock-out blow by Renault?: This was a huge race in terms of the midfield fight for fourth position. Romain Grosjean was eliminated early in the race and that helped Renault drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz to a sixth and seventh — Kevin Magnussen, in the other Haas, scored just two points in ninth.
Alonso sees red: Fernando Alonso doesn’t seem like a man who is going to miss Formula One very much. After being punted out of the race by Williams’ Lance Stroll, the Spaniard said: “These guys are impossible to race with, just crashing into corners”. Only three more to go…
Driver of the day: Raikkonen had a great drive, but this has to be Verstappen. He started 18th on the grid and his driving in the latter stages, under huge pressure from Hamilton, was sublime.