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U.S. Grand Prix: Kimi Raikkonen wins first F1 race since 2013; Lewis Hamilton still shy of fifth title

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Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton’s bid to clinch a fifth Formula One championship in Sunday’s U.S. Grand Prix came up short, as Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen won his first F1 race since 2013.

As a result, Hamilton’s closest challenger for the championship, Sebastian Vettel, saw his F1 title hopes remain alive for at least another race. Three races remain on the schedule now; next up is this coming weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.

Pole-sitter Hamilton finished third, while Vettel finished fourth. Hamilton had won the last four U.S. Grand Prix’s and five of the last six at Circuit of the Americas coming into Sunday’s race.

It was an exceptional ride for Vettel, who recovered from first-lap contact with Daniel Ricciardo that spun Vettel around, leading him to roar back through the field after falling back to 15th place following the contact.

Raikkonen’s win at COTA in Austin, Texas, snapped a 112-race winless streak that dated back to the 2013 Australian Grand Prix (March 17, 2013), the longest drought between wins in F1 history. Riccardo Patrese previously held the record of 99 races between wins from 1983 to 1990.

“(Expletive) finally!” an exuberant Raikkonen said over his team radio after crossing the finish line for the first time in 2,044 days.

A Kimi Raikkonen fan celebrates at the podium ceremony following the U.S. Grand Prix Sunday at Circuit of The Americas. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

The Finnish driver earned his 21st career F1 triumph. At 39, he becomes the oldest F1 race winner since Nigel Mansell did so in 1994, also at the age of 39.

And in a nice bit of irony, Raikkonen’s win came exactly 11 years to the day that he won the F1 championship.

“I had to push hard, it was a battle,” Raikkonen said of Sunday’s race. “I had enough speed. We had to keep it consistent. Obviously, I’m happier than if I had finished second.”

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen also had a great run, starting 18th before finishing second.

Hamilton was forced to make a late pit stop, one more than his chief challengers, which likely cost him a shot at the title.

Even so, Hamilton still slightly increased his lead over Vettel from 67 to 70 points heading to Mexico City. Vettel must win each of the three remaining races to even stand a chance at overtaking Hamilton for the title.

However, even if Vettel wins at Mexico City, if Hamilton can finish seventh or better in the race, he will likely clinch the crown.

If Hamilton wins the championship, he’ll be only the third driver in F1 history to win five titles, tying him for second on the all-time championship wins list with Juan Manuel Fangio. Michael Schumacher owns the overall championship wins record with seven titles.

“We just have to keep working and pushing in the next race,” Hamilton said. “I’m still happy we got a top 3. It’s still close. Ferrari picked up their game this weekend so we’re going to push hard in the next race.”

Valtteri Bottas finished fifth, while sixth through 10th were Nico Hulkenberg, Carlos Sainz, Esteban Ocon, Kevin Magnussen and Sergio Perez.

FINAL RESULTS:

POS NO DRIVER CAR LAPS TIME/RETIRED PTS
1 7 Kimi Räikkönen FERRARI 56 1:34:18.643 25
2 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 56 +1.281s 18
3 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 56 +2.342s 15
4 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 56 +18.222s 12
5 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 56 +24.744s 10
6 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 56 +87.210s 8
7 55 Carlos Sainz RENAULT 56 +94.994s 6
8 31 Esteban Ocon FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 56 +99.288s 4
9 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 56 +100.657s 2
10 11 Sergio Perez FORCE INDIA MERCEDES 56 +101.080s 1
11 28 Brendon Hartley SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 55 +1 lap 0
12 9 Marcus Ericsson SAUBER FERRARI 55 +1 lap 0
13 2 Stoffel Vandoorne MCLAREN RENAULT 55 +1 lap 0
14 10 Pierre Gasly SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 55 +1 lap 0
15 35 Sergey Sirotkin WILLIAMS MERCEDES 55 +1 lap 0
16 18 Lance Stroll WILLIAMS MERCEDES 54 +2 laps 0
NC 16 Charles Leclerc SAUBER FERRARI 31 DNF 0
NC 3 Daniel Ricciardo RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER 8 DNF 0
NC 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 2 DNF 0
NC 14 Fernando Alonso MCLAREN RENAULT 1 DNF 0

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WATCH: Red Bull F1 team completes pit stop in zero gravity

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The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.

With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.

Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.

With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.

“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!

“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”

Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.

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