Lewis Hamilton will have to wait another week to secure his fifth Formula One world crown after he finished third and Sebastian Vettel came home fourth at the United States Grand Prix.
Hamilton looked on course to secure the title as he led with 19 laps remaining in Austin, but his soft tyres were unable to keep him in front and he was forced to pit for a second time late in the race – handing victory to Kimi Raikkonen.
The costly stop pushed the Briton down to fourth and despite his best efforts, he could not put enough distance between himself and Vettel to wrap up the championship on American soil.
Raikkonen's win and Hamilton's third place spared the blushes of Vettel, who had another costly mistake early in the race, the German clipping Daniel Ricciardo on lap two to find himself facing the wrong way.
That error had jettisoned Vettel down to 15th but he fought his way back, even a slow pit stop failing to deny him a fourth placed-finish, enough to keep his slim hopes alive.
While Vettel battled through the field, Hamilton stalked the back of Raikkonen's Ferrari, though his pursuit proved costly as it caused blisters on his rear tyres.
He eventually got past before the midway mark and although he had plenty of clear air to drive in, the soft compound was unable to see him through to the chequered flag.
A second stop on lap 37 opened the door for Raikkonen to clinch his first victory since the 2013 Australian Grand Prix – ending a winless streak stretching 111 races.
With three laps remaining Hamilton only needed to overtake Max Verstappen to claim the title, but he was unable to make a pass stick as he was forced to run wide at Turn 18.
Vettel jumped past Valtteri Bottas before the end to mean Hamilton's error did not matter, meaning the battle to be crowned champion goes on for at least one more week.
"WE LEFT TOO BIG A DEFICIT"
As Hamilton battled his way back from his second visit to the pits, the frustration began to grow in the cockpit, the Briton coming across the team radio to question the timing of the stop.
"How did it [deficit to Raikkonen] get to 12 seconds?" Hamilton asked.
"We left too big [of] a deficit."
Ultimately, he was right, and Hamilton's disappointment was evident when speaking in parc ferme.
He said: "I thought we would have been able to do better, but yeah we just have to keep working, keep pushing for the next race."
RENAULT FINALLY CLICK INTO GEAR
It has been a mixed season for Renault, with Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr and struggling for consistency, but respective finishes of sixth and seventh in Austin makes it their best result of the year.
Hulkenberg was the 'best of the rest' with a solid drive, while team-mate Sainz was just behind him as the French team earned valuable constructor points.
It will be nice viewing for future Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo, too, after he had to watch most of the race from the pits after his Red Bull lost power on lap nine.
MORE ALONSO HEARTACHE
For the seventh time this season, Fernando Alonso was forced to retire. On this occasion his early departure followed a coming together with Lance Stroll on the opening lap.
Stroll was handed a drive-through penalty as a result but the damage on Alonso's car was too severe for him to continue, leaving the Spaniard understandably irate.
"These guys are impossible to race with," he said over team radio. "Impossible."
IN THE POINTS
Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 1:34:18.643
Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +1.281s
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +2.342s
Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +18.222s
Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +24.744s
Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +87.210s
Carlos Sainz Jr (Renault) +94.994s
Esteban Ocon (Racing Point Force India) +99.288s
Kevin Magnussen (Haas) +100.657s
Sergio Perez (Racing Point Force India) +101.080s
Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 346
Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 276 (-70)
Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 221 (-125)
Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 217 (-129)
Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 191 (-155)
Ferrari 497 (-66)
Red Bull 337 (-226)
Renault 106 (-457)
Haas 86 (-477)
Attention turns to Mexico in seven days' time with Hamilton hoping for a repeat of his 2016 victory as he aims to move level with Juan Manuel Fangio on five titles.
21 de noviembre 2018
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