The Day After: The Iceman Cometh

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For the first time in a long time, Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen were able to put their best foot forward, with the result being a well-deserved victory at the United States Grand Prix.

He did it. He finally did it.

Five years, seven months and 4 days since Kimi Raikkonen last stood on the top step of the podium, he finally found himself back there on Sunday in Austin.

Suffice to say, a lot has changed since that last victory at the 2013 Australian Grand Prix – hell, Max Verstappen was still in karting back then – yet while his star may no longer shine quite so brightly, for this race it did, all with a bit of help from some brilliant Ferrari strategy.

Yep, you read that right: brilliant. In a season where the adjectives to describe their strategy have generally ranged from “woeful” to “perplexing”, this weekend saw the Scuderia get it absolutely right, from the decision to stick Kimi with ultrasofts in Q2 yesterday, to electing not to pit him during the virtual safety car period.

Kimi could hardly have picked a better time to roll back the clock

That said, it certainly didn’t look like the perfect call when Lewis Hamilton had just an eight-second gap after his own VSC stop with Kimi still to pit, but in hindsight it does, and that’s largely down to the Finn’s driving.

Just as he’d done in passing Hamilton on softer rubber at the start, Kimi came up big with the Brit closing, holding him back for three laps when he was easily within DRS range, taking valuable life from his tyres and positioning himself well for his eventual fight-back on his own one-stop strategy.

For a driver that has so often looked toothless in such scraps in recent years, he could hardly have picked a better time to roll back the clock.

With only three races left in his second stint with the Scuderia, the disappointment of the last few years is now countered by the highs of one final victory, which for Kimi and Kimi fans alike, is sure to make all the difference.

Quick Hits

  • A nice touch by Maurizio Arrivabene, who dedicated the win to Ferrari engineer Daniele Casanova, who unexpectedly passed away last week at the age of 48.
  • Does Sebastian Vettel employ a driver coach? If so, does he need a new one? Race after race, he keeps coming off second-best in these wheel-to-wheel engagements, almost to the point it’s hard to believe he’s a four-time world champion.
  • Just when you think he’s down and out, back comes Brendon Hartley! The prime beneficiary of Esteban Ocon and Kevin Magnussen’s disqualifications, the Kiwi’s performance could prove very valuable for Toro Rosso, who maintain a slim four points lead over Sauber.

Driver of the Day

  • Max Verstappen: I won’t blame you if you want to give this to Kimi, but any time you can go from 18th to second while holding off Lewis Hamilton, you’re going to get my vote.

Worst of the Day

  • Renault “Power”: An oxymoron on days like today, Daniel Ricciardo might’ve had a realistic shot at the win had he not endured a complete engine shut down. No wonder he punched a hole in a wall.

Quote of the Day

  • Ferrari pitwall: “Grande Kimi, Grande Kimi! Well done, well done my friend!”
    Kimi Raikkonen: “Eh thank you, f***ing finally.”