Raikkonen Back On Top of Podium
By: James Musoke on November 4, 2012 | 10:00 A.M. EST
Raikkonen celebrates hsi 19th career win. (Photo: Getty Images)
Kimi Raikkonen returned to the top of the podium for the first time since 2009 on Sunday when he claimed the win in a dramatic Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi.
Raikkonen, the 2007 champion, had a tremendous start, vaulting past both William’s driver Pastor Maldonado and Red Bull’s Mark Webber, to put himself in a perfect position to initiate an attack on then race leader Lewis Hamilton. On the 21st lap, fortune’s wheel spun in the Finn’s favor as Hamilton was forced to retire from the lead because of massive power failure to the McLaren.
Raikkonen assumed the lead of the Grand Prix, managing to retain his advantage through a single pit-stop, survive a second safety car and fend of a feisty challenge from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso to earn his Lotus team their first victory of the year.
"I’m very happy for the team, and for myself also,” Raikkonen said. “You never know what’s going to happen during the race; the safety cars made it quite tricky, but I’ve had similar races many, many times this year. Today we had a clear circuit to be able to use our speed. Perhaps we were not the fastest at the end, but we were quick enough and consistent enough to win so it’s great for the team. We’ve had some difficult races in the second half of the season so it’s fantastic to come back with a win."
Although Alonso fought his way up to second place after fighting his way past Red Bulls Mark Webber early on, and then leaping Maldonado during the pit stops, he still could not overturn Sebastian Vettel’s championship advantage after the German fought his way back from a pit-lane start to claim the final podium spot. At one point Vettel remarkably had his chances to win the race due to a number of accidents that waived any lead that was created before him. But the German could not make his second set of tires last the final 41 laps of the race and was forced to make a second pit-top. This pushed Vettel back to fourth place, but a fresh set of soft tires allowed him to overcome McLaren’s Jenson Button and retain a 10-point advantage in the championship standings.
“It was a good race for us today, a big chance for Ferrari and Fernando, but we didn’t allow it,” Vettel said. “I enjoyed it a lot today, more than anything.
"I said to myself either we go full attack or nothing. That is what we did. We had a fantastic race. It was nice fight with Jenson (Button). He was difficult to pass. With him, I was really struggling. I just squeezed my way past. It was thrilling grand prix up and down all the time."
Jenson Button had to settle for fourth place, while Pastor Maldonado survived a clash with Red Bull’s Mark Webber to round out the top five. Various accidents plagued the Yas Marina circuit on Sunday, the most serious involving Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg and HRT’s Narain Karthikeyan. Karthikeyan’s car suddenly lost power, causing Rosberg who was following closely behind to catapult over the HRT and smash right into the wall. Another involved Paul di Resta, Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean, who in-turn forced Mark Webber to retire from the race after he was caught up in the scuffle.
Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi claimed sixth place ahead of Felipe Massa, Bruno Senna, Paul di Resta and Daniel Ricciardo who rounded out the remaining points of the day.
The Formula One championship now moves to the America’s for the final two races of the season. The United States Grand Prix on November 18th followed by the finale in Brazil.