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Raikkonen wins, Vettel clings to formula one lead

Kimi Raikkonen lived up to his 'ice man' sobriquet by claiming his first win for three years as Sebastian Vettel clung on to his championship lead in a drama-laden Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Raikkonen, the 2007 champion who returned to formula one this season after a two-year absence, grabbed his triumph after early leader Lewis Hamilton was forced into retirement after 20 laps by a power failure on his McLaren car.

The Finn won convincingly ahead of Fernando Alonso of Ferrari who pushed hard for victory in the closing laps of an extraordinary contest that included two prolonged safety car periods and a rash of major accidents.

Defending champion and current leader Vettel started from the pit lane in his Red Bull and produced one of the greatest drives of his career to finish third.

Vettel's phenomenal drive, including clocking the fastest lap, kept him 10 points ahead of Alonso in the title race with two races remaining.

Vettel leads on 255 points with Alonso on 245 and Raikkonen 198.


There was no change to the order of the top five as fourth-placed Mark Webber joined Hamilton on the DNF list.

Red Bull's Webber crashed out at three-quarter distance, caught up in an incident sparked by three other cars.

This was Raikkonen's first win since the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix and his 19th career win.

As the eighth different winner of the season he gave the Lotus name a victory for the first time since Ayrton Senna won for the original team in the United States in 1987.

The 33-year-old betrayed few emotions on the podium.

Asked how he felt, he said: "Last time you guys were giving me grief because I didn't smile enough, but I'm happy for the team. It's been a hard season and not easy times lately.

"Hopefully this will give everyone belief and turn the tables so we can win more races, if not this year then next year."

Lotus team chief Eric Boullier said: "This is just a great one. It's a final reward for the team. We've deserved this for a long time. We had a little bit of luck. Kimi is good for everyone at Enstone and good for the the fans in F1."

Alonso, who cut Vettel's lead from 13 points to 10, said: "I'm very happy as I think we were not super competitive this weekend. We had to fight throughout the race, but we had a very good strategy and wanted victory.

"But we think it was a perfect Sunday as we kept fighting right until the end."

Vettel's performance justified his confidence in claiming before the race that he could deliver a strong points finish despite starting at the back of the field.

"I told you guys, don't stop believing," he said over the team radio. "Never lift!"

Vettel's biggest previous improvement from the grid was 14 places from 19th to fifth at the 2008 Monaco GP.

Red Bull was unable to confirm their third straight constructors championship, but with a lead of 82 points ahead of Ferrari, look certain to do that at the United States Grand Prix at Austin next month.

Among the retirements were Nico Rosberg, who had a spectacular airborne crash in the ninth lap in his Mercedes following a high-speed collision with Indian Narain Karthikeyan's faltering Hispania car.

Both walked away unscathed.