Magical memories of 2012 - Formula One: 'Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus win was F1's most romantic result'
4 November: Raikkonen zooms to victory in Abu Dhabi
Friday 21 December 2012
Kimi Raikkonen's victory in Abu Dhabi had so much going for it.
It was the win that he had fumbled and lost back in Bahrain in April, when he had a look down the inside of Sebastian Vettel going into the first corner at the start of the 36th lap but backed out of when he should have hung tough.
It came in Formula One's most romantic setting, in the dusk of the multi-coloured Yas Marina. And it was a romantic result, with the historied Lotus marque for which bygone heroes Jim Clark and Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt and Emerson Fittipaldi and Mario Andretti once drove, gaining their first victory since Ayrton Senna's success in Detroit a quarter of a century ago.
Of course, Raikkonen himself saw nothing remotely romantic in it, because he isn't wired that way. "It's a long time for them, I guess," he said off-handedly. "I don't think there are any of the same people in the team any more. It's a name. It's the same team and it has been since Fernando [Alonso] was there, just a different name. It's a great name for us, good past, but you know I race for the team whatever the name is. I don't really care. Maybe it looks good in somebody's eyes but for me it really makes no difference."
But he also kept the world amused when he was heard on the radio telling his engineers to leave him alone when they kept offering him the sort of fatuous advice that a rookie would know let alone a past world champion, and then reminded him to keep his tyres up to temperature during the safety car period.
"It's a normal thing," he said afterwards. "For sure, they are just trying to help. But if you keep saying the same things two times a minute, I'm not so stupid that I cannot remember what I'm doing."
He's a funny fellow, Kimi, but you can't help but like a driver who doesn't give a stuff about political correctness, and who said "shit" on the podium.
The race had pathos, too, as poor old Lewis Hamilton led easily and looked like he'd add another victory before leaving McLaren until he was suddenly struck down.
It had tension, with Alonso flat out in the closing laps trying to catch Raikkonen. And it had Vettel's heroic charge from the back of the grid to third place to bolster his world championship chances.
And then there was the final act in a rehabilitation play, and the sheer pleasure in team principal Eric Boullier's eyes. Just as he was beginning to give up hope on the win the team had promised so often this year, there it was. They have come a long way since he took over in 2010, and he has brought it fresh respectability these past three seasons, after the disgrace wrought upon it by Flavio Briatore in the 2008 Singapore GP "Crashgate" scandal during its days as Renault.
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