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Raikkonen wins Abu Dhabi thriller as Vettel goes from last to podium
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Nov 2012   |  3:59 pm GMT  |  381 comments

Kimi Raikkonen won a thrilling Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, arguably one of the most exciting races of the season, holding off Fernando Alonso in the final laps to win for the first time since Spa 2009 and giving Lotus its first win since the 1987 US Grand Prix victory for Ayrton Senna.

Raikkonen survived two safety cars, which cut his lead, to become the eighth different race winner of this 2012 championship. He went from 4th to first, Alonso from 6th to second and Vettel from 24th to 3rd.

Lewis Hamilton controlled the first part of the race from pole position but retired once again, as he did in a similar position in Singapore.

Amazingly Sebastian Vettel held onto a 10 point championship lead after a stunning drive through the field from last to third place, passing Jenson Button in the closing stages. He started in the pit lane, survived several scares, made an extra stop compared to the rest and still came away with a result.

Raikkonen’s win was built on a strong qualifying performance and a great start. He qualified fifth, which became fourth after Sebastian Vettel was penalised and jumped up to second place at the start.

“Not much (emotion) really,” said Raikkonen. “I’m really happy for the team, It’s been hard times lately and I hope this can turn around the tables. I’m happy, but there’s nothing to jump around about. We’ll have a good party and tomorrow when we feel bad after a long night we will remember why we feel like that.”

It was a thrilling roller coaster of a race, particularly exciting as far the the championship contenders were concerned with Alonso and Vettel both having swings of good luck and setbacks.

Vettel’s final result showed the sheer performance advantage of the Red Bull over the majority of the field, as Vettel was able to twice drop to the back of the field and still come through. It also silenced critics who think that Vettel lacks ability to overtake.

It was by far the most entertaining of the four races held at Yas Marina Circuit to date, with some great overtaking moves by Vettel and Alonso in particular. An early safety car bunched the field up, but Vettel had a torrid time, crashing into the barriers as he swerved to avoid a Toro Rosso under the safety car.

Sebastian Vettel was having to come through the field having been disqualified from qualifying for a fuel load irregularity and chose to start the race from the pit lane, which allowed him to make some changes to the set up of the car and a longer 7th gear to help with overtaking. It gave him a straight line speed gain of 5mph to 198mph.

The track temperature at the start of the race was 34 degrees, with quite a strong gusty breeze.

At the start, Kimi Raikkonen jumped from fourth to second as Webber made another poor getaway from the line and he challenged Hamilton for the lead on lap 2 as the McLaren s. Meanwhile Alonso jumped Button for 5th place and then passed Webber for 4th on the back straight in a stunning first lap.

Meanwhile a collision between Hulkenberg and Senna eliminated the Force India car, while Di Resta got a puncture and Vettel damaged his front wing in the opening exchanges.

In the opening stint, Hamilton led Raikkonen, with Maldonado third, Alonso fourth, Webber, Button, Massa, Perez, Kobayashi and Schumacher the top ten.

Hamilton settled into a high rhythm, the McLaren lapping at 0.5s a lap faster than Raikkonen. Alonso was tucked up behind Maldonado waiting for his opportunity.

On lap 9 the Safety Car was deployed for only the second time in the four years at Yas Marina after Nico Rosberg had a heavy accident, smashing into the back of Narain Kartikeyan’s HRT. The Mercedes was launched and passed over the top of Kartikeyan’s car, passing close to the Indian driver’s head. It was the third accident in four races for Rosberg.

Under the Safety Car there was a curious incident where Sebastian Vettel almost collided with the rear of Daniel Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso as the weaved to heat the tyres. Vettel hit the barriers causing more damage to the front wing of the Red Bull.

He pitted on lap 13 for soft tyres and a new front wing. But Vettel came out behind Grosjean who was at the back after a puncture in a quick Lotus, also trying to make its way through the field.

At the restart Alonso had trouble with cold tyres and had to defend from Webber, as the leading trio broke free at the front.

Vettel attacked Grosjean but the Frenchman came back at him and Vettel finally made the pass stick on the second straight, he went outside the white line to do it and had to give the place back then retake it.

At the front Hamilton returned to his rhythm with Raikkonen three seconds behind. But Maldonado and Alonso slipped back, the Ferrari not finding the pace it had before the restart.

On lap 20 Hamilton retired from the race, the engine dead. This gave Raikkonen the lead and lifted Maldonado to second and Alonso to third.

On lap 22 Alonso passed Maldonado for second place as the Venezuelan struggled with the tyres. He set off after Raikkonen.

There was a classic moment of Raikkonen radio on lap 23 as his engineer offered to keep him updated on the gap to Alonso, “No! Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing!” shouted Raikkonen.

On the same lap, Webber made a mistake passing Maldonado and went into a spin and dropped back behind Button, Massa and Perez.

As the pit stop approached, Button passed Maldonado for third and Perez passed Massa for 5th.

On lap 27, Massa and Webber made contact, as Webber went off the track to overtake Massa spun and immediately pitted for medium tyres.

Alonso came into the pits on lap 29, moving to the medium tyres.

Vettel caught Webber on lap 31 and the Australian was told, “If Sebastian gets a run don’t fight him, ” Red Bull pitted Webber at the end of the lap just in case, releasing Vettel, who was now second on tyres which had done 15 laps.

Pirelli estimated that the soft tyres could do 36 laps, so Vettel was pushing his luck to try 40.

After the stops, Raikkonen led on the medium tyres, from Vettel, Alonso, Button, Grojean. There was a significant gap between these two which meant that Vettel could push hard and if he were to run out of tyres, he would be able to stop and slot into that gap behind Button.

He did so on lap 38, taking another set of used soft tyres and it worked to plan, then another Safety Car came out to hep him again, this time for an accident involving his own team mate Webber who was caught up in an incident involving Perez, Di Resta and Grosjean. The incident eliminated Webber.

Di Resta and Perez were fighting for position, Perez went off track and came back on making contact with Perez, which left Webber nowhere to go.

The race restarted on lap 43, with 12 laps to go, Alonso again struggling to get the tyres up to temperature.

On lap 46 Vettel attacked Button for third, but he wasn’t able to find a way past initially. He did make it stick soon after however, although he admitted that Button had been very hard to pass.

One final note; Mercedes had its fourth race with no points, although Rosberg was going well before the accident and Schumacher was in the points before he got a late puncture.

ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX, Yas Marina Circuit, 55 laps

1. Raikkonen Lotus 1h45:58.667
2. Alonso Ferrari + 0.852
3. Vettel Red Bull + 4.163
4. Button McLaren + 7.787
5. Maldonado Williams + 13.007
6. Kobayashi Sauber + 20.076
7. Massa Ferrari + 22.896
8. Senna Williams + 23.542
9. Di Resta Force India + 24.160
10. Ricciardo Toro Rosso + 27.400
11. Schumacher Mercedes + 28.000
12. Vergne Toro Rosso + 34.900
13. Kovalainen Caterham + 47.700
14. Glock Marussia + 56.400
15. Perez Sauber + 56.700
16. Petrov Caterham + 1:04.500
17. De la Rosa HRT + 1:11.5

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I really think there needs to be some rules changes here. Vettel was essentially given free reign to change their whole set up even after he/the team had ‘broken the rules’. Whereas everyone else who abided by the rules had to keep their current setups. So by breaking the rules, he’s gained an advantage (he was also disadvantaged by starting at the back).

Surely, if you are deemed to have broken the rules and sent to the back or pit lane, you should not be allowed to make any further setup changes to the car.


Hi James, I am still worried about the use of Italian during a GP by the Ferrari team. This time around they used it to insult Button. Yes.

When Vettel passed Button, Domenicali said ” Vettel e adesso terzo perché Button si e addormentato”. The translation is ” Vettel is now 3rd because Button slept”. Even the Italian press which is so passionate about Ferrai and Alonso did not aprove of this statement. MAybe aam wrong but is this not an insult to Button. I am not a Button fan but I think on sunday he did everything possible to defend his position eventhough some people think that with the car he had he was suppose to be challenging Alonso and Raikonene and not defending from Vettel.

James is there an official language in F1? Is there any rule on this?


2 Tech questions… (perfect race by Kimi – seized the opportunity)

So, James if you could possibly shed some enlightenment –

1. what kind of work did Red Bull do on Vettel’s car that saw him start from the pits – is there some kind of compromise on the qualifying setup that could usefully be altered for the race and still be within the rules?

2. Kimi’s perfect start seemed pre-ordained by some sort of setup condition as he indicated he tested from the false grid and then knew how good it was, and Webber’s seemed equally destined to be a flop. What’s under the driver’s control at the start these days? Thanks… great site…


If you take the car out of part ferme you can make changes but you have to start from pit lane. That rule has been in place since parc ferme came in years ago. So they changed gearbox, longer 7th gear, changes to rear wife etc and suspension, gave the car 10km/h more on straights, but not at the expense of damaging tyres

The start is under the drivers’ control, by releasing the clutch at a set level of revs, but there are control settings on clutch etc which are prepared by a “control engineer” together with the driver. This is an area Webber has consistently had problems with over the past few years. Raikkonen has had some dodgy starts this year but some good ones too, like in Abu D


Great – thanks, it sounds like the car changes were to optimize overtaking for starting at the back rather than something you’d do for a race-only (no qualifying) set-up in general, or do they all jeopardize the race set-up a bit to maximize qualifying…?


‘Ran’. Not ‘fan’. Grrr..


Everyone is quick to point out had there been 3-4 more laps Alonso would have taken the win off Kimi,

lets not forget he had to deal with two safety cars which diminished any time margin he had over Alonso and Vettel.



Kimi and Lotus were lucky in having Vettel put to the back in quali and then Hamilton’s retirement. But without the safety car periods, I don’t see any evidence that Kimi would have been under real pressure after lap 20. James?



We all know Helmuthead can get a bit flustered when things go wrong for Vettel, do you see him having some stern words to Ricciardo? Personally I don’t think Ricciardo did anything wrong in that incident, but when dealing with Marko especially after Alguersuari-Vettel in Korea last year, I’m amazed he wasn’t hung at dawn.


Yes I do!

My Network 10 Australian TV interview with Dan in Austin will be interesting!

I reckon he’ll get the hairdryer treatment, although not as bad as it would have been if Vettel had lost significan points


James, I am honestly curious, doesn’t bother you this subordination of the Toro Rosso drivers to Red Bull? The image of Vergne close to going out of track in a turn to leave Vettel through is quite ugly, isn’t it?.


James, do you think he actually did anything wrong?

It’s not as if he could have let Vettel past, either.


Well then I look forward to it!

And you’re right it could have been worse if Vettel had lost points but it actually forced Red Bull’s hand onto the strategy that got them to finish 3rd. He’ll still get the hairdryer treatment though anyway as you say.


I see few very fans praising or pointing out what their favorite driver did well to win their admiration. I only see a lot of jealous and bitter fans saying x had a faster car, loads of luck etc..FFS, enjoy the sport and be happy. dont be so bitter


Reading the comments on this forum as well as the BBC and PF1 forums gives you a lot of insight into fan behaviour. Too many fans carrying hatred for the driver they dont like or the driver that will beat their favorite driver and blindly dismissing achievements of world-class drivers. Really really sad.


I thought Mclaren was supposed to the best car yesterday, at least in the hands of Lewis.

Vettel came from dead last, (yes SC helped, without that no driver can make up that gap as they are all in F1 for a reason), and overtook a world champion who was driving arguably the best car. If it doesn’t impress you, you need help.


I am very pleased to see Kimi start (again) winning. Maybe it could have come earlier, but it’s just the way it is in this sport. He drove a great race, and fully deserved the win.

Alonso has been so gloomy for a while, since the Red Bull-Vettel package became so good (again); nonetheless, Alonso was fully deserving of his place.

Vettel: what is it with some people, classic attribution theory (psychology), when others win, the circumstances are blamed, when we (our driver) wins, it was because of his great talent, and the corollary: when others lose, it is because of their poor input, but when we lose (our poor Alonso), it was because of the luck of that Vettel and his unfair advantage Newey!?

Anybody who does what Vettel did at Abu Dhabi, regardless of anything else, is a great driver.

When Alonso has done it, and he has, more than once, I was happy to admit the display of greatness.

I am a fan of the racing; the facts, both quantitative and the more objective qualitative, will clearly show that the best driver, definitely, since the Hungarian GP has been Vettel, and on balance, for the year to date.

And Webber: it looked pretty good from where I was watching; he provided about 50% of the spectacle of this exciting race! Even though, while the move on Massa looked reasonable enough as a racing incident, it was a pretty tight squeeze he put on Maldonado, but he got his penalty then and there and it was appropriate.


‘“No! Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing!” shouted Raikkonen.’

In another words: Stop shitting my pants!

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀


I think Webber really underperformed this race. Worse than the renewed Massa. I wonder if it is the fact that he realise there is no chance for him to get anything more for himself this year? His start was a disaster, then all his overtaking moves were way below par for his level of experience. A huge contrast to Vettel’s overtaking capability.

I stayed up to watch the race till 2am! Geez it was a great race.

Kimi is a man of few words but all them are true classic. He has the best personality, I think.


Interesting bit of trivia that I’ve not seen reported anywhere else:

Every ‘team’ (going by various different names in some cases) that has won a Constructors Championship since the 1970’s, has won a race this year:

Red Bull



Lotus / Renault / Bennetton

Mercedes / Brawn



Cool stat… and Michael’s been at three of them, Newey’s been at three of them…


If you link BAR to Tyrrell, it holds back to ’69 and Stewart’s Matra (which Ken of course fan).

Even if you break the Lotus / Lotus link, every WCC team since ’79 is still on the grid, altho’ some have changed names.


James, It’s a little off-topic but i was wondering if you or anyone else here has seen this. Is this normal? If not, why haven’t we heard anything about it.

Curtsey Craig Scarborough. Entire front wing and even the nose is flexing!


Interesting but we always have to be careful of edited clips like this



Although the crash that ended his race wasn’t his fault, Grosjean got into another clumsy first lap incident today.

Do you think his seat is slipping away because of all these incidents?


What a race, just what F1 needed, so glad kimi held on

Poor Lewis, think of the damage he could do with a good team and reliable car, hopefully mercedes can step up


Great to see Iceman on the podium, of course he took his advantage of Hamilton DNF. Well deserved solid performance. Alonso drove as expected, faultless from P6 to P2. His attack for P1 was initiated too late to succeed, but then SV on much better tyres had to be covered…..

So predictable result of SV drive, signed of by BE himself …… It was a joke how his supernatural RB8 plowed through the complete field and make all look like sitting ducks, while Webber was again faster in qualy, but lost place after place in the race…..

It is a shame that a penalised team is allowed to modify their set up and replace parts. High speed set up, very favourable SC and three best (quality performing) sets of Pirellis did the work. A Narthikeyan would have be probably sufficient to do this job today. SV himself made 2 or 3 larger driving errors which robbed him even from a very possible P1….. !!!

Most relevant: WDC remains fully open, 10 points is less than one DNF / DSQ.

Also interesting was to see the amount of agressive driving again and crashes. Rosberg was flight was really wild, and Webber` T-Bone another one…. More TNT action is to be expected for next races…..


Excellent observations.

The second safety car wiped out Kimi’s lead. The way Kimi pulled out a gap when the safety car pulled into the pits was very impressive.

I think Kimi secured the win by driving the last few laps as conservatively as possible but yet maintain the 1 second gap.

SV had two pitstops that didn’t cost him any time, due to safety cars. But he would have ended up 4th.

Had Hamilton’s fuel pump held together, FA would have finished 3rd and SV 4th. Hamilton’s bad luck gave FA an extra point and he cut SV’s lead to10 instead of 11 points.

Difficult to say what should have been. But the safety car and misfortunes of others have benefitted FA and SV.


Watching Alonso after the race in the room where they get their winners caps / refreshments… did anybody else notice how deflated he looked….. prehaps thinking his golden chance to get ahead of Vettel had passed…


It’s amazing to me how two people can see the exact same thing and come away with two completely different conclusion.

According to Christian Horner, who was actually there at the race, Alonso was smiling as if he won the race.

Now lets look at the fact:

(1) If Vettel would have started 3rd on the grid, he would have won the race because of McLaren’s reliability issues and Webber’s legendary poor starts. That meant that Vettel would have collected 25 points.

(2) Alonso would have probably finished 3rd so he would have collected 15 points. Vettel would now be leading the WDC at 23 points.

(3) So instead of being down 23 points with only two races, Alonso is only down 10. I don’t know about you, but that would be enough to make me smile if I was Alonso.

(4) Not to mention that Ferrari extended their lead over McLaren in the Constructor’s Championship. As we all know, that is where the teams get paid.


Even on the podium he was deflated and I notice most of the time he’s not smiling at all in the podium unless he’s in the top step.


“Vettel caught Webber on lap 31 and the Australian was told, “If Sebastian gets a run don’t fight him, ” Red Bull pitted Webber at the end of the lap just in case, releasing Vettel, who was now second on tyres which had done 15 laps”

…bringing him out behind a train of midfielders….

Mark had a shocker all round (those starts are hard to watch for a Webber fan), but the impact of this team call on Webber was the nail in the coffin for him today .


RB was merciless with Webber, but he did say he would never move over for SV.

I’m not saying I agree with RB, I think it was a really tough call on Webber, but this is a team sport and Vettel is in the title hunt which Webber isn’t. Webber had a horrible race from the start until he was taken out and I think a lot of the blame is on the calls made by Red Bull.


So….. Sam Michael anybody?


Lewis Hamilton – thumbs up

McLaren – thumbs down




“giving Lotus its first win since the 1987 US Grand Prix victory for Ayrton Senna” James….can we really describe this as a win for Lotus in these terms? The 2 teams have little or nothing in common and somehow I just can’t see this win being proudly displayed on the wall in the Lotus factory boardroom!!I drink in a pub where they have a poster on the wall showing every Lotus GP winning car. Do you think that this poster is now out of date? And do you think the name LOTUS will be used by this team next year?


Do you apply the same standard to “Mercedes”? Did you apply it to “Honda” or to “Renault”?

All three bought existing British F1 teams with no relationship to their own previous F1teams, all three of which had won races in the past.


You’re being too technical



How can you say “Vette’s final result showed the sheer performance advantage of the Red Bull over the majority of the field. It also silenced the critics who think that Vettel lacks the ability to overtake”.

Let’s look at the facts:

(1) when the teams set their cars up, it’s a compromise between race and qualifying. Vettel’s car failed scrutineering and he was allowed to change to a race set-up.

(2) Vettel had 2 free pit-stops today due to 2 safety cars. Saving at least 40 seconds on the rest of the pack.

(3) To prove to you that Vettel drive wasn’t that spectacular. Paul di Resta , who finished 9th, had a decent race after picking up a puncture at the first corner, which forced him to pit and rejoin almost dead last. Pastor Maldonado, who finished 5th, drove a great race. Especially as he was without KERS for much of the race.

(4) How about the splew of retirements? Besides Ferrari, every team had at least one car that didn’t finish the race. When was the last time that many cars retired from a race? Vettel didn’t have to do a lot of overtaking..

(5) The final safety car was perfect for Vettel. It erased the 9 second gap to Button and while the front-runner had several laps on their medium tires, Vettel had brand new soft tires for the final 15 laps to the checker flap. According to Pirelli, the soft tires are half-a-second faster than the medium tires around the Yas Marina Circuit.

(6) Luck was on Vettel’s side today. It was not his driving ability that allowed him to move up through the pack. It was the inability of the other drivers and two very prefectly placed safety cars.

(7) Lewis Hamilton about Vettel’s drive to P3, “he must be the luckiest man in F1”. He didn’t say the greatest driver.

(8) In a few days, you will ask us to name the “Driver of the race”. My vote is for Kimi. He made a great start from 4th to 2nd and control the race from the front. I would have liked to say Hamilton, but to finish first, you have to first finish.



What do you make of Mclaren’s reliability issues this season? I think it must have been there worst year since 2005, a season which also cost them a possible WDC

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