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GP Week : Issue 230
Raikkonen and Bottas can trace its roots back to the pit stop cycle, when Bottas was forced to use more of his tyres to navigate his way through traffic. In the closing stages that afforded Raikkonen a performance edge and allowed him to close on both Bottas and Perez. With time running out, and with little to lose, Raikkonen made an ambitious move which ended Bottas' race. Raikkonen limped his broken Ferrari back to fifth at the flag, but was penalised 30 seconds for the incident - which is no consolation for Williams which lost a chance of a podium - and dropped him to eighth. It also handed the constructors' world championship to Mercedes, though having that decided in the steward's room is probably not how the German marque had hoped to win it. Third place was as good as a world championship for Perez. Not for the first time in his career he displayed a deft touch on his tyres, running an extraordinarily long stint after stopping under the safety car early on. The safety car was called on twice, each time the result of apparent driver error. There was the first corner kerfuffle, which seemed more or less inevitable when the field arrived at full speed in one huddled mass, which claimed Nico Hulkenberg and Marcus Ericsson. That incident was triggered by Hulkenberg being too greedy on the brakes on the way in, getting onto the dusty outside - since the track had comparatively little running all weekend - before spinning in front of the pack. Max Verstappen was involved too, puncturing his left rear tyre and all but ending his day. The second safety car was for the much heavier crash suffered by Romain Grosjean, though the triggers were remarkably similar to Hulkenberg's; Grosjean ran wide, got the rear end lose with the result being that he spun heavily into the barriers. Both were, to a degree, the result of so little running over the weekend making for a more slippery than usual surface off line, punishing drivers far more heavily than they would other wise have been. Still, exactly what officials thought they were achieving by repairing the barrier damaged by Grosjean with duct tape is anyone's guess. Attrition in the race was comparatively high. Daniel Ricciardo pulled up short with suspension failure while Carlos Sainz must have been fearing the worst (again) when his brakes failed late on. There were the two early crash victims meaning with Rosberg's sticking throttle and Bottas parked in the fence on the final lap there was a total of seven cars not running by the flag around a circuit that, on paper, doesn't look a particular challenge - nor particularly interesting on television. For Hamilton he needs to score just nine points more than Vettel and two more than Rosberg at the United States Grand Prix and he'll be champion again - and the first Brit to defend his crown. 19 GPWEEK.com // 19 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> RUSSIA PARTNERS: