Scuderia Ferrari’s sixth win of the season came about thanks to determination, a calm approach and strategy implemented by the driver and the entire team. Sebastian Vettel finished fourth, having to fight all the way. Mathematically at least, both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ championships remain undecided.
The sun finally shone on the Circuit of the Americas, after two days of cold and rain, with the thermometer showing 21 degrees air temperature and 32 on track. Raikkonen was second on the grid, running Ultrasofts. Vettel, with a three-place penalty, was fifth on Supersofts.
As the lights went out, Raikkonen was in brilliant form, getting the better of Lewis Hamilton to take the lead. Vettel stayed fifth, attacking Ricciardo who immediately fought back. The Ferrari and the Red Bull collided at turn 13 and, on the inside, Vettel spun round, but kept going, although it meant he had to start yet another climb up the order from 15th place. The Stewards decided it was a normal racing incident.
Raikkonen was suffering from bad oversteer, while the number 5 Ferrari was lapping quickest of all, and Vettel was already back in ninth spot.
On lap 10, Ricciardo parked at the hairpin and that required a crane on track, so the Virtual Safety Car was indicated, requiring drivers to slow by 40% compared to the reference point. As expected by those on the Ferrari pit wall, Hamilton pitted and dropped one place. At the restart, Vettel dealt with Hulkenberg to move up to fifth.
Raikkonen held off Hamilton on tyres that were now well worn for 21 laps, which was some help to his team-mate’s return up the order. Then he pitted for the yellow-banded tyres, the hardest on offer, to run to the flag with just the single pit stop. Shortly after, he swapped places with Vettel (setting the fastest race lap on the way) as the German was due to come in for fresh tyres. He too went for the Softs.
On fresher rubber, Raikkonen closed up to the leader, while Vettel, quickest on track, caught up to Bottas. On lap 37, Hamilton pitted for a second stop, which meant Raikkonen was leading again.
With ten laps to go, a battle ensued for the top three places, with Vettel right behind, closing in on Bottas. In the final few kilometres, as Verstappen fought Hamilton, Raikkonen made the most of it to pull out a bit of a gap. Vettel was duelling hard with Bottas who overshot at turn 12 which meant the Ferrari number 5 went up to fourth. Raikkonen meanwhile was first past the chequered flag to take his first win for five years.
He well deserved it, and so did Ferrari.