Kimi Räikkönen says “it’s nice to prove to all the people that we can still win” after claiming his first victory for more than five years at the 2018 United States Grand Prix.
Räikkönen, who started the race from the front row, stole the lead from champion elect Lewis Hamilton at the start and was able to withstand attacks from both Hamilton and a charging Max Verstappen to claim the twenty-first race victory of his career.
”Obviously it’s a great feeling to win this race,” said Kimi. “It’s nice to prove to all the people that we can still win; that’s the reason we are here for, try to win races and Championships.”
It was Räikkönen’s first victory for Scuderia Ferrari in nine years and comes at a time when the team have struggled in recent races following four straight defeats to rivals Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport.
“It was an exciting race, not only for us but also for all those who were watching,” Kimi continued. “We had a very solid weekend, I felt confident and I’m glad about that especially because lately we’ve had rough weekends for the team.
“I’m glad we had a fight and it’s nice to see that we still have the speed to go for it and fight has hard as we can. This weekend we found the car that we expected to have.”
The race itself saw a nail-biting climax as Kimi resisted a late-race challenge from Verstappen and the recovering Hamilton who had been forced to take an additional pit-stop. Kimi though, points to the early stages of the race as being crucial.
“The start was a key moment; in the first part of the race we had the speed, I tried to take care of tyres and save fuel. Then the Mercedes stopped and came back on fresher tires: at that time, my target was to keep them behind before we, too, stopped for tyres.
“If Hamilton had passed us before our stop, it would have been a different story.”
Kimi’s victory played its part in delaying Lewis Hamilton’s coronation as a five-time world champion and Ferrari cling on to slim title hopes in the constructors’ championship.
“We are still in the fight for both Championships and this is a good thing. We’re off to Mexico now, where we’ll try doing the best we can and hopefully we can get a great result for both teams. We’ll keep fighting until the end.”