By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
AUSTIN, Texas – Kimi Raikkonen admitted enjoyment in humbling his doubters after claiming victory in the United States Grand Prix on Sunday at Circuit of the Americas.
The 39-year-old Finn started from second and charged ahead of pole sitter Lewis Hamilton entering Turn 1 on the opening lap. While highly debated in moment, the one-stop strategy from Ferrari proved enough as Raikkonen was able to fend off a charging Max Verstappen and Hamilton in a thrilling finish.
The win marked the 21st of Raikkonen’s career, but first since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix – 113 races ago – when he was driving for Lotus. The 2007 Formula One champion also now holds the record for longest gap between successive wins in the sport’s history (previously 99 races held by Ricardo Patrese).
Additionally, this was his first win during his second stint with the Italian squad, which began in 2014. Prior to Sunday, his previous win for Ferrari came in the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix.
While victories have been tough to come by, it hasn’t changed Raikkonen’s desire to reach the top step of the podium, but he’s also not losing any sleep over it.
“Obviously I wanted to win, that’s for sure,” Raikkonen said. “I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen or not because sometimes it’s been close and something maybe happened. With five laps to go it was going to be okay because I knew my tires were still okay and once they get close enough, it’s so difficult to follow.
“It’s nice to hear (the Finnish national anthem), for sure, especially if you’ve won. Obviously, that is what you always want. …
“I’m happy for that, it was a great day to prove some people wrong and having a good race, but it doesn’t really change anything for me. It’s just a number. Life goes on.”
The long span between victories is also unique this time around because, unlike five years ago, Raikkonen is now a firmly placed family man alongside his wife and two kids. Following the race, he joked that his family would be captivated more by the first-place podium cap than the actual victory.
“They’ve been asking for a while, so more interested in the Pirelli cap than probably the win itself,” Raikkonen said.
“I know that we can buy it also, but I know it’s not fair play to bring them if I had to buy it. So yeah. I have a lovely wife and kids and I’m sure they’re happy. I’m not sure if the kids… they probably fall asleep during the race, but the wife probably looked at it. I’m more than happy for all of us. It’s nice.
“It’s nice to win again – but like I said, it doesn’t change my life or they don’t look at me differently. My son asked the previous race that he wants a new Pirelli – the same tire from the qualifying – because he wants to play with it. Again, I’m sure they’re happy and I’m happy to help them, more than happy.
“We’ll have a nice talk when we get home.”