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F1 Reports 50

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix report

In the past few days, a debate has raged on the Motor Sport website about how much double World Champion Sebastian Vettel still has to prove as a racer.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix promised answers to those questions, as the Red Bull ace found himself facing the daunting challenge of slicing through the field from his starting place in the pitlane. In his quest to limit the damage to his tight points lead over Fernando Alonso, would Vettel show the mettle some believe he’s lacking?

reports  2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix report

Well, typically of Formula 1, there was no definitive answer from a race that was as dramatic and incident-packed as the previous one was dull.

Two early wing-damaging mistakes threatened to ruin Vettel’s afternoon. But ironically, the second led to a strategy change that put him right back in the hunt for a decent points haul. Then at the end, Sebastian proved he can pass cleanly with a brave move on Jenson Button to land himself an invaluable podium finish, just one place behind the brilliantly determined Alonso.

The upshot is that Sebastian lost just three points to his adversary, and 10 separate the pair with two races to go.

But the day in Abu Dhabi belonged to another World Champion. Kimi Raikkonen’s performances during his F1 return this year have been immense, but until Abu Dhabi his season had been missing the victory he and his Lotus team deserved. The cards fell his way this time thanks to McLaren once again letting Lewis Hamilton down, but there was a lot of racing still to be done when the Briton pulled off with another car failure on lap 20 – and Kimi stepped up with his trademark calm assurance to score a first GP victory since the Belgian GP of 2009.

Raikkonen’s start would prove key to the result, as he got the jump on both Pastor Maldonado and Mark Webber from fourth on the grid to follow poleman Hamilton into the first corner in second place. Behind him, the two Force Indias made contact, Nico Hulkenberg then cannoning into Bruno Senna’s Williams. The new Sauber signing was out on the spot.

reports  2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix report

As Vettel was released from the pitlane – his punishment for a Renault miscalculation in qualifying that had left him bereft of an adequate fuel sample for the FIA – Alonso was attempting to make hay. Starting sixth, the Ferrari was past Button from the lights and then pulled a brilliantly committed move on Mark Webber. The pair were wheel-to-wheel at nearly 200mph, and Fernando swept around the outside into fourth place, behind Maldonado’s Williams.

Hamilton had proven dominant in qualifying and he was clearly determined to stamp his mark on the race in the same fashion. Cold tyres almost caught him out on lap two and he ran wide, briefly giving Raikkonen hope of taking the lead. But Lewis survived the error and got his head down to open a gap.

Meanwhile, Vettel was beginning his hoped-for charge through the field – and making a bit of a mess of it. His dive down the inside of Senna’s Williams was optimistic, his front-right wing endplate snapping off against Bruno’s right-rear tyre. Would he need a new nose? It seemed not – at least at this stage. He was up to 14th position by lap four.

The first of two safety car periods followed as the leaders began lap nine, when Nico Rosberg suffered a violent crash in a moment of confusion with Narain Karthikeyan. The Mercedes driver appeared to misjudge the closing speed as he approached the slowing car ahead of him and was launched over the HRT. Rosberg slammed hard into the barrier, but thankfully emerged uninjured, if perhaps a little bewildered.

reports  2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix report

As marshals cleared the debris, Vettel almost made his own race-ending misjudgement. He was up to 13th and running behind the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo. As they attempted to keep warmth in their tyres down the back straight, Vettel suddenly swerved right to avoid the car in front and smashed trough a polystyrene DRS board – and almost into the barrier. Sebastian reacted furiously on the radio, claiming Ricciardo had almost come to a stop – but to be caught out so would have been a cringe-inducing way to retire from a GP. Especially for a double World Champion.

His battered front wing sustained more damage in the impact with the board, and this time Red Bull was forced to call him in. Vettel had started on the medium-compound prime tyre and would now switch to the soft Pirelli with 41 laps still to go. One stop was all that would be required to run this race, in ideal circumstances. But with a stop this early, would Vettel be able to make it to the end without another set of boots?

As Hamilton led the restart on lap 15, Vettel had it all to do again, then got mixed up in a scrap with Romain Grosjean – of all people! He survived the skirmish, narrowly avoiding a potential penalty in the process by using more track than allowed to pass the Lotus. Sebastian let Grosjean back past on the orders of his team, then did it again properly. This was hardly the assured performance we’d been looking for.

Then shock for McLaren: Hamilton was stopping. A total lack of power had left him with no option but to pull up. In different circumstances, Lewis would have been forgiven if he’d shown a flash of temper. But with his destiny for the future lying elsewhere, he was able to shake the hands of his team members and smile with a shrug for the cameras. He’s ticking off the races to end his McLaren career, and is clearly already looking forward to a new start at the other silver team in 2013.

Raikkonen now led from Maldonado – but not for long. A lap after Hamilton’s demise, Alonso passed the Williams for what was now second place. Vettel, on his soft rubber, was just out of the points in 11th.

reports  2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix report

It was at this point that Kimi gave us all much to smile about with his snappy reply to team info over his radio. His “leave me alone, I know what I’m doing” response was exactly what we’d expect from a hard-as-nails old pro. It was good to hear.

Button was the next man on the move, passing Maldonado for third on lap 24. A couple of laps later, Webber made a mess of passing Felipe Massa, the Brazilian spinning as a consequence. Mark now found himself in the uncomfortable position of having his team-mate right behind him. Red Bull removed any chance of further embarrassment by calling Webber in for his pitstop.

As the frontrunners all headed in, Sebastian moved up the order. Incredibly, given his race so far, he found himself only second to Raikkonen once the stops had been completed – one place, of course, ahead of his title rival Alonso. Against the odds, was he about to stretch his points lead after all?

No. Those soft Pirellis weren’t going to last and Red Bull called him in on lap 37. But as long as the pitstop went to plan, the team had worked out he would remerge in fourth place – still more than he could have expected about 20 minutes earlier.

Vettel duly charged back out ahead of a juicy scrap that included Grosjean, Paul di Resta, Sergio Perez and Webber. The quartet went at it – with the inevitable result. Perez was the man at fault this time, his outside passing attempt on di Resta pushing him wide, leaving him prone to attack by Grosjean. The pair made contact as he rejoined the track, the Lotus jinking left and into the path of the hapless Webber. The Lotus and the Red Bull were out, and Perez would be handed a stop-go for his trouble.

The safety car was called on again as the mess was cleared, with Raikkonen leading from Alonso, Button, Vettel, Maldonado and the rest.

Now the pressure was back on Kimi. Alonso would clearly fancy his chances of stealing the win at the restart, so the Finn had to be on alert. His team helpfully reminded him that tyre temperature would be key – and Kimi responded again with suitable short shrift.

Lotus shouldn’t have worried. Raikkonen handled the restart perfectly, getting the jump on Alonso and making sure he’d be clear of the Ferrari once DRS was enabled again. That’s not to say it wasn’t nail-biting as Alonso shadowed him all the way to the flag, but Raikkonen had it all under control to deliver his team its first win for five years – and its first of course under its current guise as Lotus.

reports  2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix report

“Thanks guys, great job,” was Raikkonen’s underwhelmed response to his team’s whoops of joy over the radio. Just priceless.

Alonso was more than happy with his second place, but his pleasure was sullied by the presence of his title rival on the final step of the podium. Vettel had passed Button with a wonderfully committed move around the outside into Turn 10. In the circumstances, it showed balls and Sebastian was perhaps fortunate that the move was on a driver who races as cleanly as Button. He wouldn’t have got away with it against others we could mention.

But the reward for his risk was worth it. However he’d got there, Sebastian had come from the pitlane to the podium and the damage had indeed been limited. “Never lift. Never stop believing,” Sebastian told his team as it all sunk in after the flag.

Next stop, Austin. Vettel still leads and he’s still got the quicker car, but that man Alonso will not give up. As cliffhangers go, this is even better than Homeland.

Add your comments

50 comments on 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix report

  1. Bill, 4 November 2012 17:16

    Vettel was a bit sloppy with Senna, but so was Alonso on the first restart (nearly got overtaken by Webber again), and Hamilton who overshot his braking point and ran wide after only a few laps. Funny that you dont read a letter about that in this otherwise very good race report.

    Other than that it was an epic drive by anyones standards. Oh, I forgot, Vetttel needs to meet ridiculous standards not used for others.

    Vettel made extremely quick progress (if you watched LT, he was never stuck behind any car in the first 9 laps even while passing 3+ cars not the bottom-3) and aggressive progress, double passing on braking zones, and makes contact once, he still gets blame for it all.

    Haters gonna hate I guess.

    Aside from Vettels stunning 20+ car overtake extravaganza (on a track not really good for overtaking) I thought Alonso should get a mention too. How good is this guy, getting P2 in the updated, yet 1 sec deficit having Ferrari?

    We’re gonna have a great season ending. Hopefully Renault doesnt let Vettel down next race. I dont think Kimi would have won this race ahd Vettel started from 3rd. Nevertheless, very well done Kimi Raikonen!

  2. Bill, 4 November 2012 17:19

    Edit: apologies to Damien Smith: you did mention Hamilton running wide. I should read better.

  3. PeteH, 4 November 2012 17:28

    When will McLaren learn to run a higher top gear? It’s leaving them vulnerable to overtakes at the end of the DRS zone, and seemingly incapable of making a DRS pass themselves.

    Hamilton was bouncing off the rev limiter during qualy half way down the main straight with DRS open.

  4. chris b, 4 November 2012 17:40

    how ironic this was a ‘live’ beeb race, so full of fun and incident, bet the other channel are less than happy about that- how quiet Damien the media have been regarding TV coverage, wonder how the sponsors feel about that,

    the race? well, entertaining to say the least, congrats to Enstone and Kimi, this guy is such a breath of fresh air, in a corporate world, welcome back Kimi,

    excellent race from Alonso, how to exceed a car’s expectations in one easy lesson, mighty, a very great driver who earns respect everytime.,

    now Seb, a blindingly talented individual – whose command of English, perhaps needs adjusting, great drive Seb, i really do think you are the most talented German driver for 70 years, and whilst a Rosemayer fan, Seb is reaching those heights, ok you’ve the best car but then so did the greatest of them all, Jimmy in 1967 at Monza, so –

    we are really blessed with so many talented drivers – capable of winning and many would have been champions in other era’s something i’ve not said since the 1980′s

    great race, ironically,

  5. Mikey, 4 November 2012 17:50

    Can Vettel do no wrong? A man riding the luck if ever there was one. For those of us wanting to avoid the one driver domination syndrome, a good Alonso result was needed. But who can deny Kimi his win? Truly heartwarming and lovely in-race comments. One of the season’s highlights despite it being at one of the worst tracks. Webber’s race was odd; normally a pretty safe pair of hands but lucky not to be slapped on the wrist by the stewards. Whilst not his fault, his exit was probably fair in the big scheme of things.

  6. Nadan C. Dervoz, 4 November 2012 17:57

    Wow, so much for “attention to detail” at McLaren. Really (?), they must be joking since they are trying hard to be midfielders.

  7. Bill, 4 November 2012 18:20

    Vettel lucky? Without Renault messing up hed have started P3. Without the first SC hed probably be in line for a win. Also, he didnt even need to overtake Button, P4 was already a very good harvest of points, but took a gamble and got himself a podium.

    From P24 he changed position about 28 times and at one point ran P2. A few dnfs, some guys spun, still leaves 20 or 21 clean overtakes on a track that isnt friendly for that. Yet it still isnt enough to prove the doubters that Vettel isnt a racer, wrong I guess.

  8. dave cubbedge, 4 November 2012 18:42

    That was the most entertaining GP of the year, if not the last 5 years! Best race at Abu Dhabi for sure. Vettel – what can one say, if I didn’t believe before, I certainly do now. Alonso, driving the wheels off the car and ending up five places higher from where he should have been. Kimi – offering one of the best quotes since Mario Andretti on the radio to his team, “Just leave me alone, I know what to do!” Love it!!!!! Tremendous result for F1. The Ice Man has Returned!!!!

  9. Bill, 4 November 2012 19:07

    Kimi was hilarious! I thougt at times in his Ferrari days he had become a bit too frozen, but today he was extremely good.

    Kimi about Lotus name: “It’s a name. It’s the same team and it has been since Fernando was there, just a different name.”

  10. john miller, 4 November 2012 19:17

    Vettel had better insure his feet as many people will be forsaking rabbit’s for Sebastian’s.

    Given that for the past two races the RB hierarchy have been sobbing into their microphones imploring Vettel to calm down, Seb showed them why he doesn’t bother with minutiae like tyre conservation.

    Impeccable timing on the part of his opponents in constructing the safety car periods and a sort-of-team-mate making him do the right thing and pitting for a new nose ensured a stunning podium place.

    But it was hardly up there with Clark unlapping himself at Monza.

    Still, a good drive by Vettel, Alonso is still a Man, but Kimi, well, Kimi is The Man. How many fans have always hated the Massa/Smedly driving duo? “Go a bit faster into turn 3 ,pet”. Compare and contrast to KR “Shut up, I know what I’m doing”

    No wonder we all love him.

  11. Bill, 4 November 2012 20:52

    Jim Clark, of course, was racing a car almost 2 seconds a lap faster than race winner Surtees’ Honda RA300, John ;) Vettel didnt quite had that advantage over Kimi, Jenson, Lewis or Alonso. And Jimmy finished a race with only 6 other cars. Vettel’s gp had 17 cars finishing. I think both these races were terrific. You dont see a car starting P24 working up to P11, back to P20 to finish P3 every week. And yeah, Seb showed them! Racers heart, that kid. Hes only 25!

  12. Michael Attard, 5 November 2012 00:44

    Those of you who continue to insist on trying to disparage Vettel’s obvious talent are only making yourselves look foolish. The flimsy excuses are absolute nonsense and you know it … it is utterly clear to anyone with an ounce of objectivity that the guy is abundantly gifted. He drove his heart out today and performed brilliantly. It is fine to support your favourite and if Vettel is not your favourite then that is fine, but play credit where it is do and stop the charade … is is tired, old and miles away from reality.

  13. @bonedwarf, 5 November 2012 01:02

    I was really keen to see how Vettel did today. While he’s definitely quick, there has always been a question mark of his actual racing ability.

    He got a bit lucky today, and early on made a few silly errors, but he drove the gonads off that car. Someone I know on Twitter made a bet with someone else. Five quid that Vettel would be on the podium. Hope they enjoy their five quid.

    Hell of a race. Immensely good to watch, which was surprising given it’s Abu Dhabi… And Kimi’s radio was worth the price of admission alone.

    Great race, very glad to be wrong (I said all the journos were mad and it was going to be crap). Thoroughly enjoyed that.

  14. Andrew Scoley, 5 November 2012 09:33

    Vettel’s pass of Button towards the end was a ‘what goes around, comes around’ moment. But for the safety cars in Montreal Jenson would not have won that race. And but for the safety cars yesterday, and certainly the second one, I can’t believe that Sebastian would have been anywhere near the front runners. So was Sebs drive from the back so much better than Hamilton in Spain? Was it as good as JB in Montreal? Damned if I know.

    Lewis has been let down very badly this year with at least three clear victories going begging. If I include Spain in that list, I would also say that had the No.1 Red Bull started from third yesterday he would almost certainly have won with Hamilton’s problem and may have won without but I suspect that was Lewis’s race whatever.

    No doubt I’ll be put right about which races Seb has also lost this year shortly.

    Kimi did very well in the circumstances to stay ahead, and I quite agree with his comments during the race, it’s about time these engineers shut up a bit more.

    I did have a wry smile however after DC had suggested to Webber on the grid that would be no need for team orders today, he could basically forget about Vettel and go for it! When the two were running together MW must have been wondering how the heck that had happened!

  15. Pitmonster, 5 November 2012 10:22

    Interesting that Red Bull’s overnight changes to Vettel’s car made it even better. On Sunday it was probably(?) the fastest car out there, on Saturday it was not.

    Whatever those changes were, why were they not the default settings?

    Great race for Kimi, the only thing better than his driving was his radio talk.

  16. Robin Denton, 5 November 2012 10:45

    Great race by Kimi, thoroughly deserved, a pity it didn’t come sooner (Bahrain) and a pity that Alonso and Vettel finished so high that he is now out of contention for the championship.

    I think that had the 2nd safety car not have happened, Vettel would have been looking at 5th or 4th at the very best and would probably have been quite happy with the result, but swings and roundabouts, he had to deal with the bad and in the end managed to take the good. I still don’t like the guy though…

    Mclaren really need to get their act together, it doesn’t matter how fast the car is (and it was obviously Hamilton’s race no matter where Vettel started from) to finish first, first you must finish. A friend of mine reminded me that the last time Mclaren started focusing on road cars their F1 performance went down, now they seem to be going into mass production of road cars, the performance has dropped again. This year has really started putting me off Mclaren, I hope that next year they can give Button a reliable car as well as a fast one.

    But what I really want is Raikkonen in the championship hunt right from the start next year.

  17. PeteH, 5 November 2012 10:50

    Pitmonster, I’d imagine they ran a higher top gear to allow for overtakes with DRS.

  18. Michael Spitale, 5 November 2012 11:59

    Brilliant win by Kimi. Did not put a foot wrong all day. That second safety car scared me because he lost a 10 second lead. However, he prevailed in the end, What a day.

    Mark Webber could not have been more of a mess, horrible start, then being passed and in the end trying to play bumper cars with half the field. No more “the team treats me like a #2″ he simply is a #2

    Vettel was helped by safety cars a bit, but in the end it was still him driving his tail off… Great day for Seb

  19. Marty Harris, 5 November 2012 14:48

    For once, a race in which tyres were not the dominating factor and looks what happens – drivers get a chance to shine and the cream rises to the top.

    Although tyres and regulations are conspiring to make this a season of Mickey Mouse racing designed for a “wider” (ie dumber) audience, we are getting many opportunities to watch some great drivers driving brilliantly.

  20. John, 5 November 2012 16:18

    I agree completely about the tyres, a much better race without the mickey mouse rubber falling to bits every five minutes. Now if DRS can go the same way sometime soon …

  21. steve, 5 November 2012 16:36

    Webber should be fuming. He was brought in at the wrong time, in order to clear the road for Vettel, which put him behind the squabbling pack – where he duely got caught up in their problems. If he had been a number 1 driver, the team would have got him out in fromt of them, for a possible podium finish.

  22. roy, 5 November 2012 17:43

    No one seems to mention the fact that Webber (who on balance I have plenty of time for) almost invariably goes backward off the grid, even when he’s on the front row. I’m probably alone in thinking this – he wasn’t penalised – but his two round the outside overtaking moves were optimistic and smacked of desperation: Grosjean or Maldonado would have received incoming for this sort of caper. I felt sorry for Massa who obviously thought he was about to get collected by Webber’s car when it came back onto the track, hence the spin.
    Everyone loves “Mr. Grumpy” Raikonnen but if I was his race engineer I’d now be inclined to keep my mouth shut and in future let this misery-guts rely exclusively on what he can see in his mirrors. “Ok” is in any case a quicker response than “Yes, yes, I know what I’m doing…” He’s a Finn so, to be generous, it was probably symptomatic of a hangover.

  23. Ray T, 5 November 2012 18:16

    Kimi seems to be the only person in F1 that does not take it too seriously. His, “Yeah, yeah, I know, keep the tyres warm” was priceless.
    He’s a professional, does he really need three PhDs in a trailer to tell him to keep the tyres warm?

    Macca lets Hamilton down, again, yet this never seems to happen to Button.

    The RBR strategy was classic Newey…start him at the back with higher gears and use the DRS free pass to rocket him up to third. Any fan of racing should be annoyed by this.

    Can anyone explain the pinnacle of drivers when… …Vettel starts dead last and finishes third, while Webber could not avoid banging into half the field.
    …Alonso almost wins the race, but Massa, on a fresh contract for 2013..goes back to his old habits down behind a Williams and a Sauber.
    Honestly, I’ve been critical of IndyCar drivers, but some of those incidents were downright comical.

  24. Alan, 5 November 2012 18:37

    Yes Vettel has talent but yes he is also lucky, not least with the rules. Starting from the back of the grid should mean just that, not changing gear ratios, tyres, avoiding the 1st corner fracas….
    The words FIA, p*ss up and brewery come to mind.

  25. Ray in Toronto Canada, 5 November 2012 19:25

    I’m going on record to predict the decline of McLaren as we know and love them.

    Hamilton has driven this season like the champion he is and has, frankly, given Button a really good hiding thus far this year…and no amount of “closeness in the ‘points’” can mask that.

    McLaren, for their part, have thrown away three “in the bag wins” for Hamilton in 2012. Spain, Singapore and now Abu Dhabi. Is it any wonder why Lewis is bailing?

    McLaren, I fear, are losing something very special for 2013 … and the Button-Perez pairing don’t look like the answer that’s needed.

    Jenson has been invisible at too many meetings this year to be considered an “Ace” (Where O Where was he in Abu Dhabi when the car was capable of a 1-2 on the grid and in the race, for instance?) … and ‘Checo’ Perez has been absolutely dreadful since signing on to “replace” Leweis.

    What’s really worrying is that the young Mexican hasn’t been able to dominate a driver who’s about to get the boot at Sauber! Koba-san has out-qualified Perez far too often for my liking.

    By my reckoning, McLarens are going to be without a truly top line “Ace” since de Cesaris was buying his seat along side Wattie in 1981!

    It’s a slippery slope McLaren are heading down, in my opinion.

    I do not think that Jenson and Checo have it in them to qualify their cars will up onto the grid consistently…and you need that to win Grand Prix races regularly.

    I wish the team from Woking the best of luck in 2013.

  26. PeteH, 5 November 2012 20:15

    Ray T: “Never happens to Button”?


  27. Ray T, 5 November 2012 21:25

    2 races a year is acceptable. But 5?

  28. PeteH, 5 November 2012 23:16

    Given a certain other team’s mechanical reliability I’d deem a single failure one too many.

  29. Andrew Scoley, 6 November 2012 07:34

    Red Bull have had alternator failures this year which Renault sem to have taken sometime to sort out. Was Lewis’s fuel pump failure the same as JB’s at Monza which was identified and said would not happen again? I don’t recall similar failures on the Mecedes or Force India cars, it sounds like a McLaren installation problem.

    I would agree with Ray, Macca could struggle next year. At Mercedes, we are still not sure just where Nico rates, but with LH in the car we will know if the car is slow or not now. Something’s not gelling at McLaren-it’s a bit like those who visited Ferrari in the 70s and 80s and couldn’t understand how they didn’t win every race with the facilities they had.

  30. Bill, 6 November 2012 13:01

    LewHam himself was pretty invisible too, at Spa, Melbourne, Malaysia, China. Where was his aceness then? I think Mclaren will do just fine without him, and perhaps McLaren has been without a real team leader as far back as 2007. I do agree SPain was very, very stupid by McLaren, trying to cheat with a car that was already very good. I guess that will never quite get out of their system.

  31. PeteH, 6 November 2012 14:08

    I guess RB tried to cheat in AD last weekend then Bill, or did you just forget to point that out?

  32. PeteH, 6 November 2012 14:10

    Hamilton’s car was taken out by Grosjean in Spa Bill, remember?

    Memory problems? Or just a selective one?

  33. PeteH, 6 November 2012 14:17

    Three 3rds is hardly invisible either – particularly as it led to him leading the championship after 3 races.

  34. JCR, 6 November 2012 16:54

    I would have thought that the main thrust of this topic would have been the fact that all the naysayers and so called experienced motor sport journalists who doubted Kimi’s motivation have been well and truly kicked into touch.

    He has had an absolutely outstanding comeback, made even more exemplary by the fact that no testing is allowed, so all Kimi has had is a race weekend to get his eye in.

    David Coultard keeps banging on about him being “tentative” in his overtaking opportunities; I would suggest it is more a case of being measured. He is a clever guy and knows full well that 75% of the grid are not to be trusted when racing at close quarters. Take the start at Valencia for instance, he made a good get away but backed off when the erratic Maldonado chopped across him. One shudders to think of what may have happened if many of the others had been in his place.

    As for the radio snippets; absolutely priceless! To those who say it was rude or “grumpy” can you imagine how Graham Hill; Jochen Rindt; Ronnie; Mario or Gilles would have reacted in the same situation. As others have said the man is a breath of fresh air in a puerile corporate driven world.

    In a moment of fantasy I can see Vettel joining Alonso at Ferrari to form the biggest teddy throwing contest of all time, and Kimi going to Red Bull to win the WC in 2014/15, then retire with a few beers in hand!

    “Leave me alone. I know what I am doing” :)

  35. dave cubbedge, 6 November 2012 17:25

    I see Kimi’s radio talk as the carefully chosen words of someone who is confident and comfortable with his own ability. I remember the 1995 Long Beach GP when before the race the TV network asked drivers about their chances for the day and when they got to Al Unser Jr., he simply said, “The rest of you can go home, Long Beach is MINE!!!!” and went on to win the event for the sixth time. Stones!

  36. Bill, 6 November 2012 18:03

    @ PeteH

    - At Spain McLaren tried to prove Force Majeure when they qualified with an underfueled car. The FIA did not accept their explanation, hence disqualification and a fine.

    - At Abu Dahbi Red Bull tried to prove Force Majeure and the FIA accepted it, hence only a disqualification and allowance to start from the pitlane. No fine.

  37. chris b, 6 November 2012 19:48

    JCR, couldn’t agree more,

    incidentally Graham was racing at Brands once in the very early 60′s and had a mike in the car, apparently his language was somewhat colourful and was asked to return to the pits- now people i would have loved to have heard were people like Gerry Marshall or Tony Lanfranchi that would have been a hoot

  38. A.S. Gilbert, 6 November 2012 22:12

    Kudos Kimi and the Enstone team. Timely for them, and the frank chat nice to hear again.
    I do feel for Lewis, although leading when bitten, it was shaping to a scrap not a foregone conclusion.
    Vettel’s drive was meritous, but the pit-lane start choice a bit of genius. No first turn fracas to muddle through, the field gapped out in natural order of pace even by the short time Seb got there. High attrition didn’t hurt either. Still the podium well deserved, just for his stellar middle stint.
    Mansell running down Piquet, Silverstone ’87, level of pure rip, not quite.
    Alonso gets a nod too, the line between the last vestige of grip and stepping out in that car, thin indeed at he maintained the edge until the last two laps.
    Webber had an ill-tempered run, until daring the fates once too much. Maldonado, Perez and Grosjean show again acceptable ideals in lesser Formulae creeping upward. They weren’t grievous, but you sensed tears were in the cards. Maybe it’s tapping all those buttons on the wheel, except the common sense one. Pace isn’t the issue, perhaps its trying win corners, laps, stints rather than races. Dunno.
    Kobayashi got a nice result, again, hope someone noted that.
    Regarding Austin, looks a great track, possibly dusty and warm. Finding grip with low drag and engine mapping will be key there, undulation means fuel consumption. Winning that audience will need a competitive, “awesome” show.

  39. Alex Milligan, 7 November 2012 03:50

    I hope that many of the other drivers have listened and enjoyed Kimi’s in car conversation with his race engineer – and now actually grow a pair and do the same!!
    All this chit chat and banter is a joke and Rob Smedley – can the mans nose get any browner??

  40. Jimmy Lisle, 7 November 2012 07:34

    I would have liked to have seen what Vettel could have done without the two Safety Car sessions closing things up.

  41. Carlos Sanchez, 7 November 2012 12:15

    No matter how hard i try to convince myself of Sebastian Vettel’s worth, and I must say that his performance in the Abu Dhabi race did a bit towards that, the ironic thing is that instead of going up in my classification of current drivers, all thing considered, Vettel has even gone lower as I had previously forgotten Kimi Raikkonen whom I have always rated highly and surely stands ahead of Sebastian, and thus 1-Alonso, 2-Hamilton, 3- Raikkonen and, 4-Vettel.
    And as a person who stands on his own and without any of this ridiculous PR phoniness so redundant in today’s F1 communication, his self assured straight talk (while race driving) over the radio has been sincerely great!… Thanks Kimi!

  42. Ray T, 7 November 2012 15:33

    JCR, Kimi really did lack motivation when he was last in F1, and mailed it in for most of his last races.
    I think with his stint in rallying, he learned to love driving again, and his radio chatter indicates that he doesn’t care to be a typical F1 driver.

    No one seems to be comparing this comeback to that of Schumacher, who failed despite basically infinite resources. ..and lo and behold, an Ensign won a F1 race.

  43. JCR, 7 November 2012 16:08

    Ray T. You must have been watching other races to me and many others then at the back end of 2009. The Ferrari Kimi had then was a shed, it had no development and all the stand in drivers for the injured Massa floundered it the thing.

    In Budapest Kimi more than kept Hamilton honest in a grossly inferior vehicle. His Spa win was superb and ranked along with the best of that season.

    It is often quoted that Massa had the jump on him at Ferrari; so he darn well should have done the car was designed around him and had inherent understeer tendencies. It is believed that Kimi made many requests to have this changed but it fell on deaf ears.

    There is a lot more one could write about this topic but I suggest you read up on the matter where informed journalists have explored the issue more fully than is apparent in some other quarters.

    The myth of Kimi lacking motivation was put about by some journalists who indulged themselves in falsehoods based on the fact that Mr Raikkonen was somewhat uncommunicative.

  44. Bill, 7 November 2012 18:02

    @ JCR,

    That is not entirely true. Yes, Kimi came to life once him leaving Ferrari became apparent. Before that, early 08 to early 09 he had a lot of uninspired performances, wich made Montezemolo repeatedly say: Its like weve seen Kimis brother perform, lets hope the real Kimi comes back’.

    Nigel Roebuck and others from Motorsport Magazine have also stated several times Kimi was not interested doing stuff like Michael Schumacher or Alonso. For example Kimi was rarely seen at Maranello headquarters.

    And while the radio messages were hilarious, It also finally showed some proof he can be a bit blunt towards the team. Rumours of that surfaced since Lotus installed a new steering for Kimi at Monaco, and after 3 laps he said: I dont like it.

    But a masterful drive last sunday, thats for sure.

  45. JCR, 7 November 2012 21:14

    It would be easy to bow to your perceived superior knowledge of all things F1 from the inception of the formula to the contemporary.

    However I do take exception to your comment that my points were not entirely true. Your retort was based upon what facts? So your readings were of more value that the ones that I based my comments upon! I think not!

    You obviously did not read carefully the comments I had made regarding car set up in 2007/8 and how it adversely effected Kimi’s performance. Regarding the inherent understeer nature of the car that suited Massa, the self same problem affected Schumacher in his final year with Ferrari. That was why Massa was so much closer to Michael during that season than in previous ones.

    It is a commonly held theory that all top flight drivers prefer a set up that tends towards oversteer and the second division driver, if you can call them that, feel more secure with understeer.

    Also if you believe anything that Monte says especially when he needs to justify the signing of Alonso by terminating a driver of Kimi’s calibre then you are very naive. But then again according to you the only dishonest person in F1 is Ron Dennis!

  46. Andrew Scoley, 7 November 2012 21:24

    Well I’ve come to the conclusion it was all a charade. Those on one side of the fence will agree, those on the other won’t.

    For each lap, LH set fastest time 12 times, KR 18, 1 under the SC, FA 9, SV 4, JB 1,( and interestingly PdR 4, PM 1, PDLR 3 and HK 1 all under the safety car).

    On lap 9 SV was 24 secs behind KR. On lap 10,.9 secs, therefore a gain of 15 under the safety car. At the time SV had damaged his wing but not enough to replace it. Fortunately for him, Dan Ricciardo put him into a marker board damaging the wing so much it had to be replaced. New tyres also put on, and under the SC and therefore no time lost at all. On lap 39, the gap was nigh on 30 secs, now that both SV and KR had changed tyres in normal conditions. Enter the SC, the gap is now 3.3 secs, and thus a gain of 27 secs, not one of which was achieved in racing conditions.

    Now on his third set of tyres SV was a mite faster than JB and made it up to third.

    There wasn’t much in the way of racing up front, a demolition derby behind, and when the safety car was in the pits, quite frankly the Red Bull wasn’t making much impression on the leaders. The fact is, Seb finished third. Well done him. But to call it a masterful drive? I don’t think so. We all thought Imola 1982 was a great race until we were availed of the facts of what really went on. I would rate Monza 67 and Zolder 79 miles above Abu Dhabi 12 in terms of drives from the back to third.

  47. John Saviano, 7 November 2012 23:02

    As said above, congratulations to Kimi and the Lotus F1 team (it’s too bad there’s no connection any more to the actual Lotus company). And though I want to see FA WDC this year, nobody can deny that if SV pulls it off, then he deserves it. He does have extraordinary luck at times … but makes luck others.

    PS – a bit too much rancor going on here. Shouldn’t be getting so personal … it’s only racing … we all should remember this is fun for us

  48. Bill, 8 November 2012 03:15

    Hey JCR lets get one thing straight: my knowledge of F1 is by no means superior to anyone, and ill be happy to admit me being wrong when argued with relevant facts. Please correct me when im wrong.

    Im a big, big fan of Kimi Raikkonen, I think hes a very rare talent and has incredible pace. However, his Ferrari years werent always the best, and many different noises said Kimi wasnt interested doing what other greats have done: invest lots of time with engineers/team/etc.

    That is no condemnation, its just stating a fact. Its actually even more baffling to see Kimi performing so good without all that pampering.

    Hes been great eversince his come back, and has an absolute stunning finishing record. I hope you didnt get my comments wrong and my admiration for his results is really high. But he did had a slight slump in results in his Ferrari years, there is no denying that.

  49. JCR, 8 November 2012 12:33

    Thank you for your reply which I take in good grace, if my post has been viewed as “rancour” it was not it was merely irritation as I do not feel that it should be state that others are wrong in their view.

    I can see Bill that you are indeed a Kimi fan and that like many of us you were disappointed at his time in a Ferrari. My comments were placed to hopefully give a different perspective on his time at Maranello that I had discovered by quite deep research.

    There appear to be very few journalists these days that are prepared, or able, to uncover some of the more technical aspects of the sport. As an aside there appears to be very little written as to why there is so much disparity in the performance of the two McLaren drivers when the car is in either high or low downforce configuration.

    Interestingly Kimi has admitted in an interview conducted very recently that his time at Ferrari was not a happy one; we all know he is not a whiner like many of his contemporaries so it must have been pretty bad.

    I have often wondered if he had been lured to Ferrari thinking he was going to get the same team as that enjoyed by Schumacher e.g. Todt; Brawn; Rory Byrne et al. Then only to find they had been split up amongst considerable bad feeling.

    Just a thought.

  50. m.s.w. laywrong, 16 November 2012 05:37

    Just give the world championship to the best driver. Forget the score, the numbers, the calculations, the math, the sums, the order and the measurements. Alonso over all.

    m.s.w. laywrong

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