Raikkonen wins Abu Dhabi GP

Lotus F1 Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland, second placed Ferrari Formula One driver...

Lotus F1 Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland, second placed Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso of Spain and Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany spray at each other after the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit on Yas Island November 4, 2012. (REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)

SPORTS NETWORK

, Last Updated: 11:48 AM ET

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen won a Formula One race for the first time in three years after taking Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in dramatic fashion.

Raikkonen, the 2007 F1 world champion, grabbed the lead on lap 20 when McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, the pole sitter, stalled on the track and retired from the event due to a reliability issue. The Finn then ran in front for the remainder of the 55-lap race at the 3.451-mile Yas Marina Circuit. He held off Fernando Alonso from Ferrari at the finish by 0.8 seconds for his first win since the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix. It was also Lotus' first F1 victory since the 1987 United States Grand Prix in Detroit.

Raikkonen left Ferrari at the end of the '09 season and competed in the World Rally Championship as well as the NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series for the next two years before joining Lotus for this season.

"I'm happy for the team," Raikkonen said. "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."

Two-time defending world champion Sebastian Vettel made an amazing comeback to finish third after he had to start from the rear of the field. The Red Bull driver qualified third on Saturday, but he was later disqualified after race stewards determined there wasn't enough fuel in his car to provide a one-liter sample in post-qualifying scrutineering, as required by the sport's technical regulations.

"There are still two races to go, and we've seen how quickly it can change," Vettel said. "If we'd started third, it would have been a different race. We can be proud that we only lost a little (in points)."

Alonso finished second and trimmed Vettel's lead from 13 points to 10, as two races remain -- Austin, Texas (Nov. 18) and Brazil (Nov. 25).

"We had to fight throughout the race, but we had a very good strategy," Alonso said. "We wanted victory, but we think it was a perfect Sunday, as we kept fighting right until the end."

Jenson Button from McLaren was running in third until Vettel overtook him for the position with three laps remaining. Button settled for fourth. William's Pastor Maldonado completed the top-five.

Despite winning the Abu Dhabi GP, Raikkonen was eliminated from the championship battle. Vettel and Alonso are the only drivers who remain in title contention.


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