Accidents, incidents, excellent driving and a lot of luck, good and bad, made the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix one of the most exciting races of the 2012 season.
Kimi Raikkönen of Lotus-Renault became the eighth different winner of 2012 as he hustled his Lotus-Renault across the finish line just eight-tenths of a second ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
Sebastian Vettel, who started last from pit lane, finished third, passing almost everybody and preserving his championship points lead.
Jenson Button fought hard for third but finished fourth after a fantastic drive in the only McLaren to finish; Lewis Hamilton suffered engine failure on lap 20 while leading comfortably.
Several collisions and two safety cars rounded out the twists and reverses which kept the final result up in the air until the final flag. Kimi Raikkönen, after two years away from the sport, showed he still knows the way to the top of the podium, after three years.
Raikkönen took the lead when Hamilton parked, then drove a supremely fast yet controlled race to hold onto it. Alonso might have won had the race been five laps longer; he was cutting a few tenths off the Lotus driver’s lead with every lap.
Alonso was visibly pushing the limit, sliding right to the verges of the track, but Kimi had saved a little; he pried the gap open a few tenths more on the final lap to keep Alonso out of DRS range, so the Ferrari driver couldn’t gain the ten-mph bonus the Drag Reduction System offers to cars trailing by less than a second.
Raikkönen showed how he earned the nickname “Iceman.” He never pushed too hard, never slid or took too much curb; he didn’t get excited when he inherited the lead. When his team tired to radio him advice, he replied, “Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing.”
Asked after the race what he thought of capturing his first Grand Prix win since 2009, Kimi replied, “Not much.” He wasn’t being ironic; he simply wasn’t impressed by his own excellent performance and result.
Raikkönen gained 25 points for his win, but he was still eliminated from World Drivers’ Championship contention; Vettel’s third-place finish shut out everyone except Alonso, who now trails by ten.
Next: High-Impact Start