“Raikkonen victorious as champions shine amidst Abu Dhabi amateur hour”

Kimi Raikkonen claimed Lotus’ first win of the season under the lights at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, following a top level drive from the Finn.

The 33-year-old – who accepted an option to stay with the Enstone team for 2013 – kept ahead of Ferrari rival Fernando Alonso, although it was a close run thing.

A late move by Sebastian Vettel on Jenson Button rewarded ensured a podium finish for the Red Bull man, despite starting from the pitlane after an apparent fuel line failure at the end of Saturday’s qualifying session.

Yas Marina’s fourth Grand Prix was not an all Raikkonen’s affair. Lewis Hamilton led the opening third of the race with ease, before a fuel pump failure sidelined the 2008 world champion on lap twenty.

From there Raikkonen displayed stellar pace in the E20, with the Finn’s charge helped by some quick pitwork from his Lotus mechanics.
Although Alonso initially looked to have settled for 2nd spot, the Spaniard drew close to Raikkonen in the final laps; however the Ferrari man-and-machine combination could not overhaul the gap – Raikkonen eventually won by eight-tenths.

One could argue that Vettel’s effort to 3rd was helped by two safety car periods; however that would be churlish and an unnecessary sly against the Red Bull driver.
Irrespective of the situation he found himself in following Saturday evening’s penalty, the twice world champion still drove the car with skill and maturity, scything through the field and maintaining tyres when the time was right.
Button, too, raced well in a car that fell away as the temperatures dipped and tyre grip ebbed away. It would certainly have been a podium were it not for the safety cars, but where Button lost out in Abu Dhabi, he has certainly gained in other Grand Prix…

And then there was the rest of the field.

It was difficult to miss comments on the internet calling the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix the best race of the year, or of the decade (etc and ad infinitum) and while it was an entertaining event, this race was certainly no great.

Indeed, some of the driving standards on display were more a stain on Formula One and the talent therein.
One does not wish to be overly negative, but a good number of the rest of the field drove like mindless also-rans. Some of the driving in yesterday’s Grand Prix would have found a better place in a Marx Brothers film than a Formula One race.

It was like watching amateur hour at the circus. Several incidents were more reminiscent of the occasionally unsure, clumsy driving seen in junior formulae from drivers unused to equipment, as opposed to the ultra-professional level that Formula One is supposed to be.

Whether it be the Force India pair tripping over each other and taking Bruno Senna with them (Senna and Paul di Resta drove well from there to finish 8th and 9th respectively), or the near clattering between Romain Grosjean (Lotus) and Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) – all on the opening lap and therefore partially forgivable – it was all just a bit silly.

Add into the mix Felipe Massa, who spun comically after being spooked by an off the road Mark Webber (Red Bull).
Webber also clashed with Williams’ Pastor Maldonado, who was lining up to pass the Australian. Maldonado would spin and lose time, but had enough in hand to claim 5th spot.

Later Webber was later innocently taken out, when Sauber’s Sergio Perez rejoined the track after being forced wide by Grosjean, who was in turn banging wheels with the recovering di Resta That also removed Grosjean from the action, with Perez garnering a stop / go penalty for his troubles.
It was this incident that brought out the second safety car. The first in-race stoppage came on lap nine when Rosberg violently rammed and jumped over Narain Karthikeyan’s HRT, after the Indian driver suffered a sudden hydraulic failure.
That was unfortunate, but everything else seemed a little too much like a sketch from The Beano.

A good race – a surprisingly good race in fact. We saw fantastic drives by the top four and the unlucky Hamilton, with that quintet displaying just why they are world champions; however beyond that, there was simply too much poor driving on show – and it was embarrassing to watch.
On the basis of yesterday’s performance, many of the other competitors could do with lessons from the GP2 fraternity. Who knows, they might actually learn something.

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (Rd 18, 55 laps)
Pos  Driver        Team                       Time
 1.  Raikkonen     Lotus-Renault              1h45:58.667
 2.  Alonso        Ferrari                    +     0.852
 3.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault           +     4.163
 4.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes           +     7.787
 5.  Maldonado     Williams-Renault           +    13.007
 6.  Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari             +    20.076
 7.  Massa         Ferrari                    +    22.896
 8.  Senna         Williams-Renault           +    23.542
 9.  Di Resta      Force India-Mercedes       +    24.160
10.  Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +    27.463
11.  Schumacher    Mercedes                   +    28.075
12.  Vergne        Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +    34.906
13.  Kovalainen    Caterham-Renault           +    47.764
14.  Glock         Marussia-Cosworth          +    56.473
15.  Perez         Sauber-Ferrari             +    56.768
16.  Petrov        Caterham-Renault           +  1:04.595
17.  De la Rosa    HRT-Cosworth               +  1:11.578
Not classified/retirements:
     Driver        Team                         On lap
     Pic           Marussia-Cosworth            42
     Grosjean      Lotus-Renault                38
     Webber        Red Bull-Renault             38
     Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes             20
     Karthikeyan   HRT-Cosworth                 8
     Rosberg       Mercedes                     8
     Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes         1
Fastest lap: Vettel, 1:43.964
World Championship standings (Rd 18) 
Pos  Drivers:     Points        
 1.  Vettel       255
 2.  Alonso       245
 3.  Raikkonen    198
 4.  Webber       167
 5.  Hamilton     165
 6.  Button       153
 7.  Massa         95
 8.  Rosberg       93
 9.  Grosjean      90
10.  Perez         66       
11.  Kobayashi     58       
12.  Hulkenberg    49       
13.  Di Resta      46       
14.  Maldonado     43       
15.  Schumacher    43       
16.  Senna         30       
17.  Vergne        12       
18.  Ricciardo     10    

1.  Red Bull-Renault          422
2.  Ferrari                   340
3.  McLaren-Mercedes          318
4.  Lotus-Renault             288
5.  Mercedes                  136
6.  Sauber-Ferrari            124
7.  Force India-Mercedes       95
8.  Williams-Renault           73
9.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         22

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