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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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Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).