Kimi takes it in Abu Dhabi. Race of the year so far?

Right at the end there, as Kimi, ‘Nando and Seb were having their candid camera moment above, the BBC’s Ben Edwards asked “what is Fernando Alonso thinking right now I wonder…?”. We’re pretty certain, as the Spaniard looked over his shoulder at the young German, he was thinking “how the hell did he ever get in here?” (Seb, meanwhile, was actually plotting a swearing contest on the podium)

In an afternoon with more stories than the last four races put together, it was almost possible to forget what Sebastian Vettel went through to finish third and pretty much make certain of a third world title. Starting in the pit lane, he picked up damage to his front wing in a squeeze with Romain Grosjean. But it didn’t seem to slow him down. Then during a safety car period, he knackered the other side of the wing in a bizarre encounter with the trackside DRS marker and that did, so in to the pits for an early tyre stop and new front wing and for a while after that, it looked like there was even a chance he might win the race, if he and the team wanted to gamble on taking the options further than they had ever been. But only just. Having gambled once this weekend and lost, Red Bull weren’t in the mood to gamble again and brought him in, only for a less than perfect pitstop. After that, and with another safety car, Vettel was on the freshest tyres in a car that was set up to pass people and that’s what he did. There was luck, a lot of cars were eliminated, and those two safety car periods, but wow, what a drive. Worthy of a champ.

Then again, you could say the same about Fernando Alsonso, second for Ferrari for a result that narrows Vettel’s lead to ten points, but still leaves it possible for Vettel to wrap it up next time out. Unless of course there is another twist in this extraordinary season. Don’t ignore the fact that today showed that on Scoring Sunday the F20121 is slower than the Red Bull, the McLaren and of course the Lotus.

Oh yes, out of the blue and just when it has seemed Lotus were not going to find that bit of edge, this happened. We were starting to wonder whether Kimi Raikkonen has lost it somewhere on the WRC (and that’s not just us, David Coulthard even suggested as much earlier on this afternoon…), yet he nailed it from a brilliant start that put him second to Lewis Hamilton. From then on in, he did it his way and God help any engineer that dared to phone in any advice. Of course he would not have won had McLaren not thrown away another win. It didn’t seem to bother Lewis much, but there’s someone in McLaren it will bother on top of all the other errors this season. Sooner or later heads will roll in Woking, mark our words. They should have had this year in the bag a long time ago. The worry is, with a B-Team next year of not-quite-fast-enough Jenson Button and not-quite-calm-enough Sergio Perez this could be the beginning of the dip.

Perez, like Maldonado and like Grosjean, was involved once again in accidents that may or may not have been his fault, but the kind of accidents the more experienced drivers don’t have (though an unusually uncool Mark Webber tried very hard today). Exciting stuff yes, but it doesn’t feel right to us. Something’s going to need to be done. We say ‘accidents’ but they were small prangs compared to the Nico Rosberg and Narain Karthikeyan smash, which once again had us all holding our breath as the bottom of and F1 car came very close to top of another drivers head.

Phew. It was that kind of afternoon, and a perfect antidote to the snoozy Indian outing and indeed previous iterations of this race. Lots in other words for the Sunday Afternoon Club to get its teeth in to with our new Sunday Driver Rankings which we’ll publish after (a good) lunch tomorrow. On our radar for merits are Bruno Senna and Paul di Resta, for demerits Mark Webber and Felipe Massa. But don’t forget it’s about all the drivers except ‘Nando and Seb. So please give us your drivers for The Committee’s consideration. Remember, it’s all about who entertained us. And yes we know, just about everyone did this afternoon. Like we said, phew.

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It’s kinda funny how people are bashing the abu dhabi gp. OK the track isn’t the most exciting one but I still haven’t forgotten the 2010 gp which had at least me on the edge of my seat so yeah… This vintage wasn’t that bad either. I also wish that hamilton, alonso et al would finally shut up how vettel can’t fight and how he’s just an extension to adrian newey etc. I think they’re bitter because SV has achieved more though he’s younger. Anyone else notice how Hamilton was immediately after the race dubbing the whole 3rd place being down to luck. I think it proves my point, though I could be wrong and I’m sure that will be pointed to me :D

Oh and also great to hear the finnish national anthem after a too long a break, speaking as a finn of course ;) congrats to kimi!

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Kimi Raikkonen

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Ok, even that litlle “mistake” from Perez, he had a great race until then, he overtook a couple of times with patience and guts, so for me, he was one of the best this race. Masa showed that he is two steps behind his teammate, Webber, he was notably ansious as any other race before.

it was in fact a great race, a great result and just the beginning of a great finale!

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The First Safety car is the reason why Vettel Had to pit early, he smashed his front wing. Which caused him to drop down the order and do it all again. The second one however did bring him back against the top three. All the teams plan for the event of a safety car. That is why to pit crews are always ready with their helmets on. All the teams try to take advantage of the safety car to move up the order. It is one of the elements of F1.

There is also the question of development and the complains about it. Yes Red Bull are better. They pay alot to be better. We could argue that the Torro Rosso would be winning races if the had better updates. All drivers rely on updates to keep them in the game. So to complain that Hamilton or Alonso are better but they do not have the updates. Thats what the game is about. It is a team sport where you have to spend lots of money and think a bit better than the other team. Then you get a driver that suits the car.

To say that Alonso or Hamilton would be winning in a Red Bull in an instant is a bit of a stretch. The cars are designed around the drivers to suit their driving style. Which is why they have the practice sessions. If Alonso got into a Red Bull at the next race he would complain that the car is a bit quicker around corners but the KERS is underpowered and the car is as fast as an icecream truck. Hamilton would make the same comments.

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It was a good race, congrats to Kimi, a win after a pause and in a new car/team is always special. Congrats also to Seb, the thing with the spoiler… who knows what could have happened? But I was a bit shocked to hear two four-letter words in the interview after the race. That’s not good and I guess someone will have a word with the drivers (all of them) about public appearance – not that Kimi would give a “darn” about it :-)

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Everybody keeps banging on about the second safety car helping Vettel. I think it hurt him in a way. The Mercedes engines have always been up on power compared to the Renaults. It was only after there was big enough gap between Button and Alonso that Button could no longer use his DRS allowing Vettel the top speed he needed to pass in Sector 2. If there were no safety car, he had enough time to catch Button and then pass him quickly and move on. Following closely after the safety car chewed up his tires since he didn’t have clean air through sectors 1 and 3. Look how quickly he gapped Button after getting around him as evidence of pace differential.

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We were promised an article on Monday.

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Best race yet at Abu Dhabi, even if it wasn’t the title decider – Congrats to Kimi on finally getting a win this season, nice to see he hasn’t lost his uncharasmatic inteviewing technique and as for his ‘leave me alone’ over the radio – it’s a team effort not just the driver, someone should tell him that! However I maintain had Lewis not have had ANOTHER mechanical failure he would have been standing on the top step, but ifs and buts and all that. Vettel was extremely lucky with th safety cars, but he stil made it through the field because he was able to change his car setup. Am I the only one who thinks if you’re served with a penalty it should be just that no exception – no starting from the pit lane so you can change the car, had Vetel actually started from 24th with his qualifying setup I’m not sure he’d have got as far -look at Webber before he was taken out! Alonso had a solid race and fought well, a few laps more he might have had Kimi, but then another few laps and Vettel might have got him! Congrats to Maldanado for finishing in the points and not making any dodgy moves or taking anyone else out – seems that reputation is now with Perez – not a single point since signing for Mclaren and has really dropped in performance and respect in my eyes. All I can say is he better book the trend when he goes to Mclaren or he’ll be looking at a 1 year contract!

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