Last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was nothing less than a blockbuster action thriller. Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen won an accident-strewn race for Lotus, capitalising on Lewis Hamilton’s bad luck.
The victory was the first of Raikkonen’s comeback season and first since the 2007 world champion won in Belgium with Ferrari in 2009. It was also the first win since 1987 by a car racing under the Lotus name. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso finished second, just 0.8 seconds behind, with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel a close third to retain the overall championship lead after a race with two safety-car interludes.
Going into the race, the championship was delicately poised, with Alonso the closest rival to Vettel for the world crown, just 13 points adrift of the 25-year-old German.
After winning the 2011 race from second on the grid, Hamilton made a perfect start. However, there was plenty of drama that unfolded behind him until a loss of engine power on the 20th lap dashed his hopes.
Apart from Hamilton, Red Bull’s Mark Webber, Charles Pic, Romain Grosjean, Narain Karthikeyan, Nico Rosberg and Nico Hulkenberg were the other among the retirees.
Rosberg had a massive crash with Karthikeyan’s Hispania. He smashed into the rear end of the Indian’s slower car and went airborne before landing and hitting the barriers on lap nine. Vettel started from the back of the grid and was also struggling in seventh spot after damaging his front wing.
The race was restarted on lap 15 with Hamilton’s McLaren engine going dead, which left Raikkonen in front. However, the stage was set for a thrilling finale in the closing stages after Vettel passed McLaren’s Button on the 52nd lap and then set out in pursuit of Raikkonen and Alonso. The Spaniard, despite running on slower, worn-out tyres, chased down the Finn to fall just short. Vettel finished third, a further 3.3 seconds behind.