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Raikkonen proving his worth for Lotus

Team hoping Finnish Abu Dhabi winner will be fit to race in Texas

Gulf News

We shall never know just how, shall we say, enthusiastically or for how long Kimi Raikkonen celebrated his shock victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix thriller.

The Finn, dubbed The Iceman, with a penchant for a good time when his refrigerated exterior melts into a relaxed mode via a glass or two, is certainly no slouch when it comes to all-night partying.

I saw the evidence of his keenness to live it up when he toppled from the top deck of a yacht at a party in Monaco a few years back, mercifully and very luckily without injury. He didn’t even know he had taken a tumble.

And, following his Abu Dhabi win, his 19th, the 2007 world champion with Ferrari announced: “I’m going to have a good party and if I am feeling bad after a long night....”

The rest of the sentence trailed away to: “As long as I manage to get to the next race I think the team will be happy.”

He was dead right. Lotus team boss Eric Boullier, who had taken a massive risk in signing Raikkonen, rescuing him from a disastrous break into world rallying, gloated: “I have one word for him: great. His win is great for Formula One, for himself and for Lotus.”

What 33-year-old Raikkonen has done, with his seventh podium finish of the season, lifting him to third place in the championship, is arouse Lotus’s justifiable hopes of a serious tilt at the title next season.

And why not? He has recaptured the speed, attitude and ability that made him champion and the Renault-powered Lotus, which will be even better next year, will most certainly be a mega-challenger to the likes of Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren.

Ahead of this weekend’s inaugural US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, he promised: “We still have two races to go, here and Brazil, and I’ll be trying hard to do the same as I did in Abu Dhabi.”

Then typically his laconic and downbeat delivery kicked in with: “To be honest, Abu Dhabi was just another win on the list for me. I never really care what people think about me — if I don’t finish the next race, they’ll think I’m bad.

“But I’ll just do my own thing and if I’m happy I don’t care about anybody else’s opinions of me. As long as I am doing my best for the team that’s all that counts.”

Frenchman Boullier, who re-signed Raikkonen for another year a month ago, emphasised: “Kimi is in great form, he is certainly back to the top and maybe he can deliver even more.

“With the team pushing very hard in support of him we have a great future together and 2013 should be even better than this year. We look forward to a stronger season.”

As Raikkonen would say: I’ll drink to that...