Abu Dhabi analysis - the coolest of comeback kings 05 Nov 2012
Kimi Raikkonen finally made the breakthrough to victory that Lotus have been promising all season on Sunday, with a splendid win - the first of his F1 comeback - in Abu Dhabi under intense pressure from Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. The result brings Alonso within 10 points of Vettel - who staged his own remarkable comeback from the rear of the grid - as they now become the two sole contenders for the 2012 world championship title over the remaining two races. We take a team-by-team look back at a frenetic Yas Marina race
Kimi Raikkonen, P1
Romain Grosjean, Retired lap 38, accident
Raikkonen won the race at the start when he beat Webber and Maldonado into the first corner, and then took over when Hamiltons McLaren stopped. Thereafter he controlled the situation superbly even when Alonso was on a late-race charge, and finally took the teams long overdue first 2012 victory. It completely validated his comeback and was hugely popular in the paddock. Grosjean was unlucky, after a first-lap brush with Rosberg obliged him to stop for new tyre, and later his battle for fifth fell apart when Di Resta overtook him, and then Perezs attempt to pass both of them triggered mayhem on the 38th lap.
Fernando Alonso, P2
Felipe Massa, P7
Second place after starting sixth was, as Alonso pointed out, the maximum that Ferrari could have expected. But that didnt stop him pushing as hard after Raikkonen as he could in the closing laps when he set a string of fastest laps. His gritty drive reduced the points deficit to Vettel from 13 to 10, and keeps him firmly in play for the world title with two races left. Massa had a tough race, with big tyre degradation which gave him understeer in high-speed corners and oversteer elsewhere. The incident with Webber on the 26th lap also cost him time and places.
Sebastian Vettel, P3
Mark Webber, Retired lap 38, accident
Vettel started from the pit lane with a modified car, survived two lots of front wing damage sustained in the early laps, dropped back to the tail of the field after an early stop for a new nose, and then stormed up to second before making a second stop. He then benefited hugely from the second safety car, which turned a 30s deficit into one of only 3.3s. He charged after Button, finally overtook him with three laps to go, and took the final podium position after running out of time to challenge Alonso or Raikkonen. Webber battled for fourth place initially, after a poor start, but lost time in incidents with Maldonado and Massa, and was then taken out in the accident that Perez triggered on the 38th lap.
Jenson Button, P4
Lewis Hamilton, Retired lap 20, fuel pressure
Hamilton had the race in his hand after recovering from a small brake locking problem which ran him wide on the second lap, but lack of fuel pressure brought him to a cruel halt on the 20th lap. Button fought Alonso hard for second for a while, after boldly overtaking Maldonado, but lacked the race pace to keep Vettel at bay for the final podium position.
Pastor Maldonado, P5
Bruno Senna, P8
A KERS problem cost Maldonado what he believed was a podium chance, and a tap with Webber half spun the Australian but elicited no further action from the stewards. Senna, meanwhile, was very fortunate to escape a first-lap assault by Hulkenberg and fought back well to take eighth, thus giving Williams a much-needed haul of 14 points.
Kamui Kobayashi, P6
Sergio Perez, P15
Kobayashi had a quiet race and took sixth despite a downshift problem that prevented him from charging his KERS fully, but after running very strongly early on Perez lost ground under the safety cars and later spun while triggering the lap 38 incident which took out Grosjean and Webber. He was given a 10s stop and go penalty as a result, which dropped him to 15th, three-tenths behind Glock.
Paul di Resta, P9
Nico Hulkenberg, Retired lap 1, accident
Hulkenberg got squeezed into Senna at the first corner and was the first retirement. Di Resta, who tapped him, had made a good start but sustained a puncture after somebody else hit him. He recovered strongly from the resultant first-lap pit stop to take two points for ninth.
Daniel Ricciardo, P10
Jean-Eric Vergne, P12
An early stop looked likely to pay a dividend for Vergne after the first safety car, but the second lost him all that advantage. Ricciardo, meanwhile, ran harder on fresher tyres and passed him near the end to take the final point.
Michael Schumacher, P11
Nico Rosberg, Retired lap 8, accident
Mercedes had another brutal race, with Rosberg the innocent victim of Karthikeyans problems as he fought back from a first-lap pit stop to replace his cars nose after an early brush with Grosjean. Schumacher was a contender for lower-end points, until a right rear puncture dropped him back. He failed to dislodge Ricciardo for the final point by six-tenths of a second.
Heikki Kovalainen, P13
Vitaly Petrov, P16
Kovalainen made the most of the early melee to run as high as 13th early on, but after faster cars passed and then ran into trouble he ended up in that position by the end. Petrov challenged him early on before having to concede, but struggled for grip all through the race.
Timo Glock, P14
Charles Pic, Retired lap 41, engine
Glock managed to fend off the penalty-delayed Perez by three-tenths of a second to take a useful 14th place, but Pic subsequently retired after a brief early battle with his team mate, due to engine failure.
Pedro de la Rosa, P17
Narain Karthikeyan, Retired lap 8, hydraulics/accident
Karthikeyan made a spectacular exit on the eighth lap when his hydraulics failed, making his steering super-heavy, obliging him to back off and triggering an accident in which a close-following Rosberg went over the top of his car. Fortunately neither was hurt. De la Rosa plodded on to finish a lonely race in 17th.
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