The 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix defied claims that the Yas Marina circuit prevented exciting racing by producing one of the best events of the year.
Although some of the action was caused by poor driving, there was plenty to be enthused by, from Kimi Raikkonen's first win since coming back to F1 to Sebastian Vettel's climb through the field from a pit-lane start.
Raikkonen sowed the seeds of his success with a blinding start that vaulted him past both Pastor Maldonado and Mark Webber, and left him in prime position to inherit the lead when Lewis Hamilton's dominant McLaren again gave up the ghost. Once in front, however, the Finn had to withstand a second safety car period and late-race pressure from Fernando Alonso before returning the Lotus name to the top step of the podium.
Alonso may have looked all at sea during the first two days of the meeting, with Ferrari admitting that its upgrades had not been enough to close the gap to the top two teams, but again produced a battling race performance to see off both Webber and Maldonado and claim second place that helped trim the deficit to championship leader Vettel.
When the German was sent to the back of the grid after failing to produce a sufficient fuel sample after qualifying, Alonso was presented with a golden opportunity to thrust himself back into the title fight. The Spaniard had not counted on the ease with which his rival would recover, however, and, despite a scrappy start that saw an already damaged wing need to be changed after collecting a marker board under the safety car, Vettel charged through to the point where he was a viable contender for victory. Only the need to change tyres for a second time denied him that opportunity….
Vettel's second fightback ultimately denied Jenson Button a fourth straight podium finish at Yas Marina, the Briton having upheld McLaren honour once Hamilton retired. Having finished in third place in each of the previous editions of the race, Button appeared on course for a repeat until Vettel's fresher rubber paid dividends.
Pastor Maldonado rounded out the top five after another feisty showing that, while not rewarding his second row start, saw him fend off Webber in a wheel-to-wheel scrap and then keep others at bay despite suffering a KERS failure.
Kamui Kobayashi and Felipe Massa were next up behind the Venezuelan – the Ferrari driver having also encountered Webber in no-nonsense mood – while Bruno Senna hauled his Williams into the top ten from 15th on the grid to complete a useful payday for the Grove squad
Paul di Resta overcame not one, but two, scrapes to claim ninth place, the Scot having been part of a four-into-one scenario at turn one that left Force India team-mate Nico Hulkenberg on the sidelines. He then survived a frenetic dice with Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean that resulted in the Frenchman and Webber retiring and the Mexican getting a penalty.
Daniel Ricciardo fended off Michael Schumacher for the final one once again, while Heikki Kovalainen produced Caterham's best result of the season with a twelfth place that tightens the battle for tenth spot in the constructors' standings.
But what we want to know, however, is who impressed you most?
Was Raikkonen's performance the one that sparkled brightest in the Abu Dhabi night or did someone else catch your eye?
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and pick your favourite from our list.
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