Motor racing: Raikkonen wins Abu Dhabi thriller

Sun Nov 4, 2012 10:45am EST
 
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By Alan Baldwin

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Kimi Raikkonen won an Abu Dhabi Grand Prix thriller for Lotus on Sunday while Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel defended his Formula One championship lead by fighting sensationally through the field from last place to third.

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso finished runner-up, just 0.8 seconds behind the Finn, after a nail-biting final few laps to close the gap between him and Vettel to 10 points with two races remaining.

On an afternoon with a huge crash, two safety car interludes and a string of retirements including McLaren's Lewis Hamilton while leading from pole position, the floodlit Yas Marina circuit hosted one of the sport's great races and kept the stewards busy.

The victory was Raikkonen's first since 2009 when the 2007 world champion won in Belgium, the 19th of his career, and made him the eighth different driver to triumph in 18 races so far this season.

Vettel, who started from the pit lane and set the fastest lap of the 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.

"It was an unbelievable day for Sebastian today," said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner after Vettel also had to pit for a new front wing in the early stages.

Red Bull could have clinched the constructors' championship for the third year in a row on Sunday but were made to wait after Australian Mark Webber crashed out. They now have 422 points to Ferrari's 340 with 86 remaining to be won.

Vettel and Alonso are the only drivers still in contention for the title, with Raikkonen third overall but 57 behind Red Bull's 25-year-old German.   Continued...

 
Lotus F1 Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland celebrates after winning the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit on Yas Island November 4, 2012. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem