THE ICE MAN RETURNS TO THE PODIUM UNDER THE DESERT MOON

4 Nov

The Michael Report- 2012 FORMULA ONE ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX

Yas Marina is home to a special Grand Prix circuit, and ever race since the inaugural 2009 running of the Abu Dhabi GP it has thrown up action and excitement. Today we saw some of the finest  driving, along with some of the worst driving possible, heartbreak and triumph which saw Kimi Raikkönen stand atop the podium for the Finn’s first victory since the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix, and Lotus’ first win since 1987.

The race began under the setting Arab sun, and the action came thick and fast- Nico Hulkenberg was forced to retire after a collision at the first corner with team mate Paul Di Resta and just a few laps later the safety car came onto the track as Nico Rosberg collided right into the back of Narain Karthikeyan’s slow HRT, practically somersaulting over the top of the car and straight into the barriers- both were lucky to escape unscathed. Nonetheless, after the safety car, the excitement never ended since Lewis Hamilton- on fine form ever since the five red lights went out, was sadly forced to limp off the circuit after an assumed electrical failure, later confirmed as a fuel pressure issue, forced the engine to shut down, and Lewis Hamilton saw his victory dream crumble away like the daylight at the Yas Marina today.

This, however, propelled Kimi Raikkönen into first place and he managed to drive  defensively and to protect his position, despite threats from a speedy Fernando Alonso, and Kimi the chequered flag to secured his first victory of 2012. Fernando Alonso took second place and eighteen points to add to his championship battle; the drive of the year (probably) should be awarded to one Sebastian Vettel, who started  in the pit lane, and managed somehow to drive from twenty third to take the final place on the podium in third! All this was despite several other incidents too!

Sebastian’s fast Red Bull was obviously going to chase down the slower drivers at the back of the pack, but no one anticipated problems – he was forced to give up a place to Romain Grosjean because he drove off the track, and then damaged the front wing under the safety car by driving too close to Daniel Ricciardo who slowed down, which saw Vettel drive into a DRS sign board on the side of the track, and was forced to drive back into the pits and begin chasing the cars from the back of the pack again.

It was thought the reigning world champion would have to last 42 laps on a set of soft tyres (far beyond their limits) but because team mate Mark Webber crashed following chaos with Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez (penalised with a 10 second stop/go penalty for colliding with Romain whilst trying to overtake Paul Di Riesta!) This forced the safety car out for a second outing, which was lucky for Vettel who had pitted a few laps earlier, and therefore had fresher tyres to overtake the rest of the field. Finishing by overtaking Button on the closing laps, to take third place and fifteen points towards his championship battle.

Pastor Maldonado did his Williams car justice by managing to finish fifth, as too did Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi, who managed to avoid the carnage on track today to come home in sixth place; Felipe Massa finished seventh and William’s Bruno Senna managed to finish eighth despite Paul Di Resta from Force India was lucky to take ninth place and the final point was awarded to Daniel Ricciardo from Toro Rosso. Mercedes continued their run of bad luck as neither driver managed to finish in the points at Abu Dhabi.

In a race of carnage and triumph, all credit should be duly awarded to Raikkönen and Vettel, the taste of rosewater (no alcohol in Islamic Abu Dhabi) being a welcome relief to both former Champions, but we should be reminded that neither championship title has been decided, and we’ll have to wait until Austin, Texas to see if the clash of the two F1 titans will be finished, but as the standings confirm, only two potential contenders are now able to achieve 2012 F1 glory.

OFFICIAL STANDINGS UPDATE

Kimi Raikkönen, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton all ruled themselves out of the slim chance they had prior to take the Drivers’ title, despite the Ice Man taking victory. Sebastian Vettel keeps his lead, despite starting from the pit lane; he increases his points tally to 255, and Fernando Alonso has 245 points- just ten points separates the two contenders between triumph and devestation. Kimi Raikkönen’s personal score increased to 198 points, and Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton retain 168 and 165 points respectively. Jenson Button remains sixth with 153 points. Felipe Massa has usurped Nico Rosberg into seventh place with 95 points, leaving Nico Rosberg in eighth with 93 points. Romain Grosjean is now ninth with 90.

Concerning Constructors, McLaren have counted themselves officially out of the standings, with 318 points in third place. Red Bull need just 5 points to ensure the title remains in their hands, with 422 points, ahead of second placed Ferrari with 340 points. Lotus are comfortably fourth with 288 points, and Mercedes remain fifth with 136 points, but Sauber are just 12 points behind on 124 points. Force India are seventh with 95 points, and Williams increased their points tally to 73 points. Toro Rosso’s point means they now have 22 points in ninth place. Marussia hang on to tenth, ahead of Caterham and HRT despite not scoring in any race this year.

I will be back in a fortnight as Formula One heads to the United States Of America for the first time since 2007. Herman Tilke’s new circuit pays homage to the legendary tracks of Europe, and it promises to be an exciting inaugural race, as both Championship titles could be decided in Texas in two weeks. It’s on during prime time, so make sure you don’t miss a moment!

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