FORMULA 1

Kimi Raikkonen wins US Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton just misses World Championship

Sunday was the first win for Raikkonen since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix

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Kimi Raikkonen was a different driver the last time he climbed to the top of a Formula 1 podium.

More than five years after his last win, the Ferrari driver returned to form by winning the U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas Sunday afternoon and prevented Lewis Hamilton from taking home his fifth World Championship.

"It's been a good weekend," Raikkonen said. "I needed to push hard. I had enough speed, we kept it consistent and just tried to keep the tires alive until the end. It's been a long time, but here we are."

Raikkonen, 39, becomes F1's oldest race winner since 1994, and the 5,691 days between his last win at the 2013 Australian Grand Prix and Sunday is a new record for longest gap between GP wins.

"I might be getting older, but it's not too bad still," he said.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen finished second with Hamilton coming in third and Sebastian Vettel finishing in fourth place.

The Englishman, who had won five of six races at COTA, needed to beat Vettel by eight points on Sunday to win his fifth World Championship, which would have tied him for second-most all-time in Formula 1.

The Mercedes driver clinched the 2017 title in Mexico City, and he'll have the chance to do it once again next Sunday. But Vettel was less than a second behind him in qualifying, so nothing is settled just yet.

"Championships are not won by fighting and making silly mistakes," Hamilton said. "The key was that I at least finished ahead of (Vettel) and for me, it doesn't matter when you win the championship, as long as you get it done."

Verstappen started 18th and made his way to finish second. It's the second year in a row he's made a major recovery in the U.S Grand Prix as he started 16th and finished fourth a year ago at Circuit of The Americas.

"A bit unexpected," Verstappen said. "I think in the end we could have put a bit more pressure on. I destroyed my shoe; I think I was pushing a bit hard, but it felt good."

Ferrari elected to put ultra soft tires on Raikkonen's car, and the move paid off as he squeezed past Hamilton on the inside of the sharp opening turn to take the lead.

Vettel, who was forced to start fifth after incurring a three-spot grid penalty in practice on Friday, was dealt an even bigger challenge Sunday when he spun after colliding with former teammate Daniel Ricciardo on the opening lap.

Raikkonen kept Hamilton behind him for most of the race and Vettel, along with Verstappen, charged through the field. Hamilton took the lead when Raikkonen pitted on lap 20, but the Finnish driver continued to push and got out front for good on lap 38.

Hamilton tried to pass Verstappen for second place with two laps left but went wide. And Vettel took advantage of a mistake by Mercedes' driver Valtteri Bottas keep his World Championship chances alive.

"My strategy was the same because I wanted to win the race," Hamilton said. "There was definitely a lesson learned for us and we'll definitely go to the drawing board, but performance-wise it wasn't our greatest weekend."

Raikkonen, who won a World Championship with Ferrari in 2008, won't be with the team much longer, as he's agreed to join the Sauber - the same team that gave him his first seat in a Formula 1 car in 2001 - next season.

Perhaps Sunday was a parting gift to the Italian manufacturer.

"I'm very happy where I'm going," Raikkonen said. "I had my time with Ferrari, I won the championship with them. I want different challenges. I wasn't really disappointed with the decision at any point. I think it's probably the best thing."

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