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Raikkonen ice cool after Abu Dhabi triumph

Lotus driver plays down first win of season in dramatic race

Image Credit: Francois Nel/Gulf News
Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen celebrates on the podium after winning the Etihad Airways AbuDhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit on Sunday.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen lived up to his ‘Iceman’ nickname after taking victory in the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina on Sunday.

The Finn only qualified for the big race in fifth and, following Saturday’s pole run, he had pleaded for “just a little more time”.

But on race day the the 33-year-old was at his flying best as he cashed in on the bad luck of early leader Lewis Hamilton, who lost all power when out in front on the 20th lap, to register the first win of his F1 comeback season. It was also a first victory for his Lotus team in more than 25 years — their last triumph was achieved by the great Ayrton Senna in America way back in June 1987.

And, typical to his character, Raikkonen was the least excited driver of the three on the podium. “This win is for the people and their belief that we could be up there,” he said.

“Hopefully this win will keep up the belief of the people who are involved in the team and hopefully the people who work and run the team will also get the support they need. This is a great thing for the team and for me.

“But I do not think it is very special to win again — Senna is the last to have won for Lotus, but I do not really care who won before me.”

Raikkonen had three near-misses at the Bahrain, European and Hungarian Grands Prix earlier this season, but when his team started to try and talk him to victory here, the driver instructed them to “just leave me alone” and then promised them he would “use all four tyres”.

“This is nothing to jump around for,” he said after notching his first win since the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa in August 2009.

“I am just so happy for everybody. It is normal to talk to your team, it is normal that they try to help you and put you in the best position possible. But I knew what I was doing.

“I do not know how I will celebrate, I’d rather be at home with some friends.

“We’ve been close three times this season, but the good thing is that we had some speed at the beginning of the race and then the question was of finishing the race strongly.

“I am very happy to have won for the team. I am happy but there is nothing special about my win. There are still a few races to go and I hope that there will be some more good races and wins. I am happy for everything.

“I have been waiting for this win. Hopefully it is a great feeling for the team who worked so hard. Hopefully the people who run the team are happy, too. I hope that everything will turn around good for the team.”