The Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi has provided some championship showdowns, and some classic races. One of the most enjoyable came in 2012 when Kimi Raikkonen took an unexpected win for Lotus F1 Team.
Lotus had had several podiums over the year, but strong competition from Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren meant that a win had so far eluded them. Kimi Raikkonen’s engine engineer, Ricardo Penteado, recalls when the team finally secured that victory:
‘Lewis Hamilton had taken pole, but we’d also had a strong qualifying, with Kimi taking fourth on the grid. Lewis held the line through the first corner and converted his pole but Kimi got a flying start and moved into second. I can remember thinking that this would be a great result if it carried on like this, but until lap 20 it was all fairly routine. Kimi challenged Lewis for the lead a couple of times, but there wasn’t anything that stuck.
‘But on lap 20 it all changed as Lewis stopped with a technical problem. Kimi was in the lead! At this point everything in the garage became a lot more pressured as we could be in for the win rather than just a podium. I can’t recall very much about the mid-point of the race as we were just concentrating and keeping going, but in the final stages Fernando Alonso was getting closer and closer. An already tense garage got even more tense. You could hear it in the radio communications in the garage and particularly to Kimi himself…his engineer kept giving him instructions – probably more for his own reassurance – but Kimi just shrugged it all off and told him to leave him alone, he knew what he was doing! It was a moment of comedy in the middle of the stress, and we all laughed. There were always things like that with Kimi, it was never dull on the radio!
‘For us on the engine side we also knew that it was going to be tight. Kimi was pushing so much that we were looking marginal to finish the race and have enough for the fuel sample afterwards. Certainly without the four safety car laps between laps 39 and 42 we would have certainly needed to stop the car just after the checkered flag.
‘It was really cool after the race. You could see how much it meant to everyone. It had been an amazing race in all aspects, but certainly not easy. Everyone felt like we had really earned it.’