Despite Red Bull’s best attempts at keeping Sebastian Vettel in the spotlight, the star of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was his badminton partner, Kimi Raikkonen.
I’ve been waiting all season for the Iceman to nab his first Formula 1 victory since coming out of retirement. With 3 races to go in the 2012 season, things were looking grim. However the stars aligned and a brisk drive from Raikkonen ensured his place at the top of the podium.
The on track excitement at Yas Marina was unlike anything we’ve seen from this circuit in the past. There were spectacular crashes, safety cars and plenty of wheel-to-wheel racing. If you’re a Vettel fanboy then you’ll be gloating about how you’ve never believed his critics and that he is indeed the Wunderkind.
After starting from pit lane, Vettel managed to work his way up the grid to finish 3rd. Some say it was an astonishing drive. Others call it pure luck. I lie somewhere in the middle of both arguments. While few drivers on the grid would’ve been able to manage the same result given the circumstance, the numerous safety cars and retirements aided heavily in Vettel’s progression up the grid. Red Bull team orders that sent Mark Webber to the pits didn’t hurt either.
Retirements were rampant at Yas Marina including more woes from the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton, who was sure to win the race after starting from pole and holding a commanding lead. It appears no one is still quite sure what went wrong with his MP4-27. Conspiracy theorists are surely having a field day over the numerous mechanical issues that have plagued Hamilton’s races, since announcing his move to Mercedes in 2013. Whatever the reason behind McLaren’s constant flubs, Martin Whitmarsh and Sam Michael have kept quiet.
At some point the way the sport handles driver contracts needs to be dealt with. Why are mid-season “trades” even allowed to happen in the first place? Drivers and teams have 4 months in the offseason to negotiate and make moves. This would eliminate any controversy and animosity, something that affected the better part of McLaren’s season.
With Hamilton’s retirement, Kimi Raikkonen was there to take the lead and secured his first win of 2012. It was fantastic to see him leading but the highlight of the weekend was the back and forth radio chatter between the driver and his engineers.
Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing.
It’s no surprise that Kimi is one of the most liked drivers in all of professional motor sports. With most drivers reciting lines off a PR script, it’s nice to see a driver who keeps it real. He’s never been interested in the media side of Formula 1 and despite his on camera demeanor (or lack there of), Kimi’s known to be one of the most down to earth drivers in the sport. If the radio chatter was good, it was only to be preceded by a hilarious podium ceremony that saw Raikkonen and Vettel swearing in their interviews.
A nervous David Coulthard tried to mend things by telling the audience that English was Seb’s second language, only to have Rose Water dumped on his head. People have been in an uproar over the swearing but who cares? It’s nice to see the drivers real personalities, if even for a split second. Imagine what’s being said on the radio transmissions we don’t hear? I’d pay to get access to those.
Formula 1 returns to the US in 2 weeks!
Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.