Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus complete their returns to the top of F1’s pile
Kimi Raikkonen scored his first Formula One victory for more than three years – and returning Lotus to the top step of the podium after a 25 years – by taking the chequered flag at the end of an astonishing incident-packed Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.
As a name in Formula One – bearing in mind the team has gone through various guises and owners in recent times – this was Lotus' first triumph since the 1987 USA East Grand Prix in Detroit.
Raikkonen, who inherited the lead after McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire on lap 20 with an electrical failure on his McLaren, becomes the eighth different driver to win a race this year.
Hot on Raikkonen's heels was Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who has only managed to cut the gap to title rival Sebastian Vettel by three points to 10. That was following a stunning drive from the pit lane to third by the 24-year-old German.
It was exhilarating stuff throughout the 55 laps, from the first corner, through two safety car sessions, to the end.
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Messages to Raikkonen during the race were met with dismissive comments so typical of the Finn, who at one stage said: 'Don't worry, I know what I'm doing.'
Following his 19th career win, asked as to how he felt at triumphing in a race again, the Iceman simply said: 'Not much really.'
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Pressed for a response from David Coulthard, Raikkonen added: 'I'm very happy for the team. It's been a hard season, not an easy time, but hopefully this gives us more belief.
'I hope this can turn the tables and give us many more wins, if not this year then for next year.'
Team principal Eric Boullier said after last Sunday's Indian Grand Prix that he felt the elusive win for his team would have to wait until next year.
But seven days later Boullier was ecstatic: 'Oh my God! Those last few laps were the longest of my life. This means a lot. It's the reward for everybody at Enstone after a tough three years. I am very happy for everybody at the factory.
'We missed out at the start of the season, which was frustrating, so I'm relieved for everybody.'