At the start of the season it seemed that a Grand Prix win was just a matter of time for Lotus now that their effort was being spearheaded by Kimi Raikkonen. Then as the weeks went on, it started to feel that the moment might never come at all.

A decent qualifying and a strong start off the grid for Raikkonen put him into second place in the 2012 F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but when the Finn was unable to exploit an opening that presented itself on lap 2 when race leader Lewis Hamilton went wide, it seemed that Yas Marina was going to be just the latest of 'near misses' for the team.

And then the McLaren died a sudden death on lap 19, and Raikkonen was in front with a serious shot of claiming the team's maiden Grand Prix win: all he had to do was stay out of trouble in one of the most eventful, incident-prone races of the year. No mean feat, but he pulled it off all the same.

"You never know what's going to happen during the race - the safety cars made it quite tricky," admitted Raikkonen. "Today we had a clear circuit to be able to use our speed. Perhaps we were not the fastest at the end, but we were quick enough and consistent enough to win.

"It's great for the team," he added. "We"ve had some difficult races in the second half of the season so it"s fantastic to come back with a win."

Team principal Eric Boullier was still recovering from the nerve-wracking final laps of the race: "I have one word first of all: 'great.' Then there are many words such as 'relief' and 'deserved'!" he said.

"We've been pushing very hard all season and we've nearly had it before," he continued. "There's a little frustration not to have had a win sooner, and we have been waiting for it, but it's a fantastic feeling to finally take that victory and a superb reward for the team.

"It's great for F1, it"s great for Kimi and it"s great for our team," he added. "I'm pleased for Kimi and he did a very good job."

"When you are as happy as this it is hard to avoid lapsing into clich?!" contributed the team's technical director James Allison. "It is a massive tribute both to a flawless drive from Kimi and to the tenacity of the entire Enstone team for never having taken their eye off the prize all year."

Raikkonen's team mate Romain Grosjean added his own congratulations, saying: "I am very happy for Kimi as it"s the win we were waiting for and it's an unbelievable result for the whole team."

Unfortunately, Grosjean's race started with a first-lap collision with Mercedes' Nico Rosberg that left him with a time-consuming puncture, and went on to end in disappointment after a collision with Sauber's Sergio Perez and Red Bull's Mark Webber on lap 39.

"It was a tight battle with three of us in a row at turn eleven, then Sergio went off track at turn 13 and came back on the inside at turn 14 leaving me with no room to go anywhere else," he explained. "Mark then came from behind and we touched; it was a big shame.

"A great day for the team, but an unlucky one for me," he summed up.


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