Kimi Räikkönen drove his Lotus-Renault to victory at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit, giving Lotus F1 its first Grand Prix win since 1987 and the Iceman his first post-comeback win (since Belgium in 2009). The victory was overshadowed, however, by a masterful race from Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, fighting sensationally through the field from last place to third. Vettel leads Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who was classified second, by 10 points heading into the season’s final two races, in Austin (United States) and São Paulo (Brazil).
Vettel, who had to start from the pit lane due to a fuel irregularity and finally set the fastest lap of what he called a ‘crazy race’, now has 255 points to Alonso’s 245 and can clinch a third successive title in Austin, Texas, in two weeks if results go his way. “I went to see Sebastian before the race and he said ‘I’ll see you on the podium,'” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner of a race in which Vettel’s run of four successive wins come to an end but added considerably to his reputation as a true champion. “I think it’s one of the best of his career. He really went for it. To go from pit lane to podium is phenomenal.”
During the race, Räikkönen gave an uncharacteristically (for Formula One) honest response to his team’s radio instructions, replying “Leave me alone — I know what I’m doing.” Richard Williams describes the exchange as “a wonderfully refreshing corrective to the phenomenon, by no means confined to motor racing, of turning sportsmen and women into robots controlled by technicians sitting on the sidelines.” Later, in typically stoic manner, Kimi commented that “it’s just another win on the list for me.” Meanwhile, supremely confident Vettel — asked whether he thought he might make the podium after being relegated to the pit lane for the race start — said simply “Yes, I did, to be honest with you.”