Hello there, and welcome to the F1 Advent Calendar 2012, we are on to the twenty-first day, if you can believe it. Although we left our seven winner streak behind a long time ago, there was still time for some victorious surprises, and today we look at Day 21 - Abu Dhabi dream.
After a bit of a tease on his own personal website, Kimi Räikkönen gave his F1 fans something to cheer about by re-signing with the Lotus team for another season. The Finn was still in with a shot at the 2012 F1 Championship, albeit rather unlikely, and talking of his renewal, he allegedly said: “It’s been great to be on the podium so many times and to score points on a regular basis. Continuing with the team was an obvious choice for me and I’m looking forward to making another step forward together next year.”
Never mind next year, there was still the remainder of 2012 to get through, and from the Indian Grand Prix, Formula One moved on to Abu Dhabi. Kimi qualified fifth on Saturday at the Yas Marina circuit, behind Lewis Hamilton who secured pole position ahead of both Red Bull drivers. Pastor Maldonado put in another good qualifying performance for fourth.
However, both Pastor and Kimi were set to be promoted up the grid a space when Sebastian Vettel was demoted to the back of the grid. His Red Bull ran out of fuel after his flying lap at the end of Q3, and he couldn’t make it back to the pitlane. The stewards take a dim view of these things, although they did let the team off when they blamed it on an issue with the Renault engine side of things. However, when there wasn’t even enough fuel left for a sample, the stewards had had enough and Vettel was excluded from qualifying.
That meant Kimi Räikkönen lined up on the grid fourth, alongside Maldonado and behind Hamilton and Webber. Lewis Hamilton had a great start to the race on Sunday, and pulled away into the lead. He was going about it quite comfortably until the McLaren lost all power and he had to slow to a halt out on track. Kimi had made his way up to second by that point, and thus it was into the lead he went.
Vettel’s fight back through the field saw him colliding with another car on the first lap that damaged his front wing. He also had further damage behind the safety car, which had been called after a huge crash between Narain Karthikeyan and Nico Rosberg. The HRT driver found his car with a sudden hydraulics failure, leaving him unable to avoid hitting Rosberg, flying up over the top of the car and landing on the other side. Both drivers were okay, but out of the race.
Vettel was following Daniel Ricciardo behind the Safety Car, and had to take sudden avoiding action when the Toro Rosso braked, sustaining further damage to the front wing when he smashed through a DRS marker. The pace of the car was still there though, and after a pit stop for a nose change, he made his way all the way up to third, which was very impressive. Crucially, for the championship battle, it was third to Fernando Alonso’s second place, which brought the gap down to just ten points - but was incredible damage limitation from Vettel’s point of view.
With those two steps on the podium filled, it was left to Kimi Räikkönen to take a strong and confident victory - his first since the Belgian Grand Prix of 2009, and the team’s first since Fernando Alonso in 2008, back when they were Renault.
Whilst there are many reactions you’d expect from a team after a victory, it was relief that came from Lotus Team Principal Éric Boullier, he said: “We’ve been pushing very hard all season and we’ve nearly had it before. There’s a little frustration not to have had a win sooner, and we have been waiting for it, but it’s a fantastic feeling to finally take that victory and a superb reward for the team. It’s great for Formula One, it’s great for Kimi, and it’s great for our team.”
That’s all for this episode of the F1 Advent Calendar 2012, we’ll be moving on to our final few episodes over the next couple of days, so I hope you will join me again. It’ll be Day 22 this time tomorrow, so I will see you then.
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Filed under Mini Series
References Daniel Ricciardo, Éric Boullier, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Räikkönen, Lewis Hamilton
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