Raikkonen keeps cool and fends off Alonso to win

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuitae

Kimi Raikkonen has won a thrilling race that was full of action from start to finish. The Finn marks his first win since his return to Formula One and in the end fended off a charging Alonso who finishes second. Sebastian Vettel finished third after having started from 24th position.

At the start of the race, the track is 33°C, with a clear sky at 29°C.

As the lights went out, Hamilton made a perfect start and easily kept his pole position. Webber meanwhile bogged down completely and went into turn 2 in 4th place. Raikkonen moved up to 2nd, Maldonado to 3rd. Webber continued to get up to speed and finally got passed by Alonso in turn 11 after being able to fend off the Ferrari earlier in turn 8.

The start for the midfield was even more complicated as both Force India's got squeezed. This resulted is Senna and Hulkenberg getting tangled up, marking the end of the race for the Force India. Senna managed to get underway again, but at the back of the field.

In turn 8 Grosjean got tangled up with Rosberg, the latter coming back to Grosjean who had made a passing move through the inside of the turn.

In lap 2 Hamilton went wide in turn 8 and only narrowly managed to maintain the lead of the race. Raikkonen slipstreamed on the next straight but failed to make a pass stick as Hamilton chose a defensive line into the corner.

By lap 8, Vettel has moved up through the field and into 13th. He did get slight front wing damage after Bruno Senna slightly touched the Red Bull in turn 8.

On lap 9, Rosberg and Karthikeyan are out of the race. Karthikeyan slowed down unexpectedly in turn 15, something which Rosberg did not expect. The latter noticed a little too late and hit the back of the HRT, launching the Mercedes AMG into the air and over the HRT. Rosberg ended up in the tecpro barrier on the outside of the turn while Karthikeyan came to a halt on the kerb after making half a spin.

Both drivers are OK, but the accident triggered a safety car. 3 laps later, Vettel was surprised by Ricciardo's sudden slowndown in an attempt to keep the brakes hot. To avoid an incident, Vettel took evasive action and went through a 200m warning sign, causing further damage on his front wing and requiring a pitstop.

The next lap, the safety car is off the track and lap 15 marks the restart. Alonso nearly lost his place to Webber at that time as the rear of his Ferrari broke out when speeding up out of turn 19.

Vettel on the other hand is back where he started and can begin all over again. One lap later he did have a bit of a moment with Grosjean into turn 8, and Vettel later got past the Lotus by going off track into turn 10. As Grosjean requested an investigation into that, Vettel decided to allow Grosjean to pass him again to settle the matter. The German however made the pass stick one lap later and continued his progress through the field.

On lap 20, Hamilton loses drive on his McLaren Mercedes, ending another race with mechanical problems. The next lap, Alonso gains another place as he passes Maldonado into turn 8.

As such, on lap 22, Raikkonen is leading, ahead of Alonso, Maldonado, Webber and Button. Maldonado however appears to be struggling with his tyres with Webber and Button up close and looking for an overtake.

On lap 24 Webber attempts to pass Maldonado through the outside of turn 8 but decided to turn in as if Maldonado wasn't there anymore. The latter of course wasn't eager to give up the place easily. Both men touched wheels, with Webber spinning off and rejoining the track in 7th place, just behind Massa who had just been passed by Pérez.

Two laps later Webber tried to pass Massa through, again, the outside of turn 8. Predictably, again the two men touched, with Webber eventually deciding to cut the corner and rejoins immediately ahead of Massa. The latter was surprised by this action and had to brake to avoid a collision, ending up in a spin himself. Massa managed to recover with his race, but only after Vettel had passed.

In lap 29 Alonso stops for prime tyres, followed one lap later by Button and Maldonado. Another lap later, Webber is called into the pitlane, along with Pérez, creating more clear air ahead of Vettel who is now in second place, 20 seconds behind Raikkonen until the Finn pits the next lap.

After that stop, Raikkonen is still in the lead, but he's now only 1.4s ahead of the Red Bull. Alonso is third and only marginally ahead of Button who appears to have found his second breath. The remaining McLaren seems to be able to warm up the medium tyres faster than Alonso can on his Ferrari.

In lap 37 Vettel makes a second stop, and despite a slight delay on the right rear tyre change, he rejoins the track in 4th, crucially ahead of a pack led by Grosjean.

Half a lap later that pack comes into action, with Grosjean coming under attack of Di Resta and Pérez in turn 8. Both managed to get past the Lotus, but Pérez got pushed wide out of turn 9 by the Force India. When rejoining the track, he cut into the path of Grosjean, creating another incident. Grosjean tried to avoid contact, but there was no way to go. Webber, who was right behind was also caught out and bumped into Grosjean. This meant Grosjean and Webber were out of the race immediately. Pérez could continue, along with Di Resta.

The incident again triggered a safety car, packing up the field together. Raikkonen leads, ahead of Alonso, Button, Vettel, Maldonado, Kobayashi, Massa. Schumacher, right behind Massa when the safety car is brought on track decides to make a pitstop due to a right rear puncture and drops down to 16th, ahead only of De La Rosa and Pic.

At the end of lap 42, the safety car is pulled in and the racing is on again. There are however no position changes, but remarkable Raikkonen immediately has a gap while Maldonado dropped down 1.5 seconds to Vettel.

On lap 45 Pérez is serving a 10 seconds stop-and-go penalty after being handed the blame for the incident that caused the second safety car period.

On lap 48 Alonso posts the fastest lap in an attempt to get away from Button and Vettel who are fighting it out for third place. Alonso continued on with another two fastest laps, reducing the deficit to Raikkonen down to 2.1 seconds.

On lap 52 Vettel passes Button and moves up into third.

Alonso meanwhile is reducing the gap to Raikkonen and it's down to one second with a single lap to go. The gap though remained just little over a second, keeping Alonso out of the DRS gap and making it unable to overtake.

As such, this marks Raikkonen's first race win since his F1 comeback while Alonso is only able to gain 3 points on Vettel in the championship.

Results

Pos.NoDriverTeamLapsTimeGridPts
19Kimi RäikkönenLotus-Renault55Winner425
25Fernando AlonsoFerrari55+0.8 secs618
31Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault55+4.1 secs2415
43Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes55+7.7 secs512
518Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault55+13.0 secs310
614Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari55+20.0 secs158
76Felipe MassaFerrari55+22.8 secs86
819Bruno SennaWilliams-Renault55+23.5 secs144
911Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes55+24.1 secs122
1016Daniel RicciardoSTR-Ferrari55+27.4 secs161
117Michael SchumacherMercedes AMG55+28.0 secs13
1217Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Ferrari55+34.9 secs17
1320Heikki KovalainenCaterham-Renault55+47.7 secs18
1424Timo GlockMarussia-Cosworth55+56.4 secs21
1515Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari55+56.7 secs11
1621Vitaly PetrovCaterham-Renault55+64.5 secs20
1722Pedro de la RosaHRT-Cosworth55+71.7 secs22
Ret25Charles PicMarussia-Cosworth41+14 Laps19
Ret10Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault37Accident9
Ret2Mark WebberRed Bull Racing-Renault37Accident2
Ret4Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes19+36 Laps1
Ret23Narain KarthikeyanHRT-Cosworth7+48 Laps23
Ret8Nico RosbergMercedes AMG7+48 Laps7
Ret12Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes0Accident10


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