Kimi Raikkonen finally ended his win drought yesterday night and delayed Lewis Hamilton’s coronation in the process. It was the Finn’s first victory since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton started from pole on Ultra Softs. Meanwhile, Kimi started from P2 after his teammate Sebastian Vettel was demoted to P5 due to a penalty from Friday’s practice sessions. Kimi, who was on the softer Hyper Softs, was able to pass Hamilton early in Lap 1. A crash also occurred early on in the opening lap and ruined Fernando Alonso and Romain Grosjean’s races. Alonso stopped in the pits after being wiped out by Lance Stroll on the entry to the esses, while Grosjean locked up and clattered into Charles Leclerc’s Sauber at the tight left-hander at the end of the back straight.
Later in Lap 1, Sebastian Vettel managed to overtake Daniel Ricciardo down the back straight. But, a small mistake under braking for the next corner allowed the Australian to cut back on the exit of the tight left-hander. The move put Vettel on the inside line for the next right-hander. Disaster struck for the German on that corner when a small wobble lead to him colliding with the Red Bull and ending up facing the wrong way. Vettel was left in P15. Verstappen who had started the race from eighteenth was now in P9.
Hamilton tried to attack Kimi but failed to overtake. On Lap 9, race control deemed Vettel and Ricciardo’s collision as a racing incident. Shortly after, Ricciardo’s car stopped due to a suspected battery issue. This triggered a VSC period.
In a bold move, Mercedes pitted Lewis Hamilton under the virtual safety car. Ferrari kept both drivers out on track in a different strategy. The Maranello team was certain that the Briton was committing to a two-stop strategy. Hamilton resumed in third place, just nine seconds behind the Finn, and within three laps had taken second from teammate Bottas, who slowed down on the start-finish straight to let him by.
Ferrari pitted Kimi Raikkonen after 22 laps. Valtteri Bottas followed on Lap 23, and Verstappen pitted a lap later. Sebastian Vettel went in a couple of laps after.
Blisters started to appear on Lewis Hamilton’s rear tyres after Lap 30. Mercedes had to react: Lewis, who was now in P1, switched to managing the race. The strategy seemed to be useless as the tyres condition worsened with Kimi and Max catching up.
Charles Leclerc had to retire on Lap 33 due to the damage sustained on the opening lap of the race.
Lewis stopped on lap 37, which handed Raikkonen a 2.5-second lead over Verstappen, with Bottas 6.5s further back and Hamilton fourth, 12s behind the lead Ferrari and 4.1s clear of Vettel.
Lewis was again able to set fastest laps on his new pair of Softs. He raced onto the back of Bottas and was let through within two laps.
Lewis found himself 8.8s off the lead with Vettel stuck in fifth. The defending champion needed to finish second to secure this year’s title. Max was 6.7s ahead with 15 laps to go. He closed onto the back of the dutch with seven laps to go. The pair battled in an epic run of four corners side-by-side. The fight ended with Hamilton backing off and running wide as he finally attempted to pass Verstappen on the outside of the fast double-right near the end of the lap.
On Lap 55, Vettel passed Bottas at the hairpin to lose only two points to Hamilton as the title fight continues.
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||TAG||1.281|
|8||Esteban Ocon||Force India||Mercedes||1’39.288|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India||Mercedes||1’41.080|
|11||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso||Honda||1 L|
|12||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||Ferrari||1 L|
|13||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren||Renault||1 L|
|14||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||Honda||1 L|
|15||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams||Mercedes||1 L|
|16||Lance Stroll||Williams||Mercedes||2 L|
|Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||TAG|