2012 Abu Dhabi F1 GP: Kimi Raikkonen scores his first F1 Grand Prix victory for Lotus in Abu Dhabi thriller

Kimi Raikkonen on Lotus scores maiden victory in 2012 Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix, by leading Fernando Alonso on Ferrari, followed by Sebastian Vettel on Red Bull to the finish line.

Kimi Raikkonen held the challenging Ferrari driven by Spaniard Fernando Alonso at distance in a super-dramatic Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in Yas Marina on Sunday evening, to score Lotus's long overdue first 2012 victory in a memorable fashion. However it was a killer cocktail of excellent driving, superb strategic tactics and huge portion of luck with safety-car interventions which saw the Red Bull driven by Sebastian Vettel retain his championship lead with a strong third place after starting on medium tires from the pit lane following a qualifying disaster.

For the first 19 laps it looked like it will be Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton's race, even after an early safety car phase between Laps Nine and 14 was caused by Nico Rosberg's Mercedes spectacular shunt over the rear of Narain Karthikeyan's slowing HRT on Lap Nine brought all cars close together. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton soon pulled away again at the restart, and was 3.4s ahead of rocket-starting Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen when suddenly his Vodafone McLaren Mercedes lost power, thus pulling off at Turn 14 on the 20th lap. The stewards investigated the collision between Nico Rosberg and Narain Karthikeyan but decided to take no further action.

The first safety car enormously helped German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel to recover from his pit-lane start and a slight brush with the Williams of Bruno Senna which face lifted his front wing. There was another unusual moment, when Daniel Ricciardo used his brakes suddenly whilst driving behind the safety car. In order to avoid the Red Bull stable mate, Sebastian Vettel further damaged his wing on a DRS marker board by the side of the track, by trying to evade the Torro Rosso in last moment.

A subsequent early pit stop for used soft tires and a new nose and wing on the 13th lap dropped him back again.

At that stage, everyone was focusing on Kimi Raikkonen, who was pulling away from Spanish Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard increased pressure on Williams driver Pastor Maldonado for second place as Australian Red Bull driver Mark Webber and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button chased each other. Sebastian Vettel was at that time occupying a distant and non-podium promising 12th place.

Pastor Maldonado succumbed to Fernando Alonso on Lap 21. On the 23rd lap, Mark Webber was involved in an incident when trying to pass Pastor Maldonado which saw the Red Bull of the Australian driver ending in a half spin, thus losing places to Jenson Button, Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez. Three laps later, Mark Webber had an incident with Massa, which saw the Brazilian spin.

By the time the round of pit stops had been made between the 27th and 31st laps, Kimi Raikkonen was only 1.4s clear of Sebastian Vettel, and it had now became clear, that it was a matter of whether he could get through the remaining 23 laps on the same set of tires, as Scuderia Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button fought hard against each other.

A superbly timed stop on the 37th lap saw him take a set of fresh softs and drop only to fourth position, crucially staying ahead of a hectic battle between Romain Grosjean, Paul di Resta, a recovering Sergio Perez and and last but not least Mark Webber.

Paul Di Resta and Romain Grosjean had both to pit on the first lap, and now the Scot found a way by the Frenchman on the 38th lap, but as Sergio Perez attempted to pass both of them he hit Romain Grosjean and spun, which left Mark Webber with nowhere to go. The safety car was deployed again from Laps number 38 to 42 as the wreckage of Romain Grosjean's Lotus and Mark Webber's Red Bull were removed. Chief culprit Sergio Perez was subsequently given a 10s stop and go penalty.

In the closing laps, the Finish Iceman Kimi Raikkonen controlled things perfectly, as Fernando Alonso launched a massive attack for the victory with a burst of fastest laps which reduced the gap from 3.2s on the 46th lap to 0.8s by the finish line. German Red Bull driver SebastianVettel went from being 29.8s behind Kimi Raikkonen to just 3.3s thanks to the second safety car phase, after which he eagerly chased Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button until he was able to slip by the Englishman on the 52nd lap before tearing down the deficit to his two title rivals.

Jenson Button took a lonely fourth, with Pastor Maldonado surviving all his dramas to bring home 10 crucial points for Williams as Kamui Kobayashi made the best of a relatively quiet race to take sixth for Sauber. Felipe Massa was seventh, followed closely by Bruno Senna and Paul Di Resta, as Daniel Ricciardo took the final point for Toro Rosso after overhauling team mate Jean-Eric Vergne. The Frenchman was also overtaken by Mercedes' Michael Schumacher, whose chances of scoring points were abruptly ended by a right-rear puncture.

Heikki Kovalainen had a strong performance for Caterham to finish 13th ahead of Marussia driver Timo Glock, who just fended off Perez by two-tenths of a second by the flag, with Vitaly Petrov taking 16th for Caterham ahead of HRT lonely finisher Pedro de la Rosa.

The result of the spectacular Abu Dhabi thriller leave German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel 10 points ahead of Spanish Red Bull driver Fernando Alonso, 255 to 245, with Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen retaining third with 198.

This limits the fight for the 2012 Formula 1 crown to Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, as Kimi Raikkonen is now out of the championship race is in terms of calculations.

In the constructors' stakes, Red Bull are leading with 422 points, with the Scuderia Ferrari on 340, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes on 318 and Lotus on 288.

Abu Dhabi - Cairo

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