Kimi has last laugh for Lotus

Kimi Raikkonen proved he actually does know what he is doing after finally ending Lotus' long wait for a Formula One victory.

There was a moment in the chaotic and breathtaking Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that summed Raikkonen up to a tee, and will be aired on many a season-review reel in years to come.

It came after Raikkonen had inherited the lead from Lewis Hamilton on lap 20 as for the second time in two years at the Yas Marina Circuit, and second time in the last five races, the Briton retired whilst on course for the win.

Told over the radio Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was five seconds behind and he would be kept informed of his pace, a clearly irked Raikkonen retorted: "Just leave me alone, I know what I'm doing!"

Then with 14 laps remaining, and running behind the safety car for a second time in the race, Raikkonen was told to keep working all four tyres.

Again his response was classic Raikkonen as he said: "Yes, yes, yes, I'm doing that all the time. You don't have to remind me every 10 seconds!"

The Finn is one of F1's characters, and although a man of few words at times - and when he does speak, sometimes barely audible - he is undoubtedly at home behind the wheel of a car.

Raikkonen drove flawlessly throughout, in particular, once in the lead and knowing there was pressure from behind, especially in the closing stages from Alonso, but he was able to resist.

By taking the chequered flag, it was his first win since the Belgian Grand Prix in 2009 - albeit with two years away - and for the Enstone-based team, their first since the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix.

For the Lotus name - bearing in mind it has gone through various guises and owners in recent times - this was their first triumph since the 1987 USA East Grand Prix in Detroit.

So asked for his emotions at seemingly such an historic triumph, Raikkonen gave a shrug and said: "Not much really."

For the team, however, Raikkonen was at least aware of how much it meant to them bearing in mind they have come so close this season and team principal Eric Boullier has faced numerous questions as to why it had not materialised.

Raikkonen, who earlier this week signed a new one-year deal with the team for 2013, said: "I'm very happy for the team - and myself - but mainly for the team.

"It's been a really hard season for them, not an easy time.

"Hopefully this will give them more belief, not just for the guys doing all the work, but also for the guys who run the team.

"I hope this can turn around the tables and give us many more good races and wins. If not this year, then next year."

Behind him there was mayhem on occasion, with Mercedes' Nico Rosberg running into, and flying over the top of, Narain Karthikeyan's HRT on lap seven, bringing the safety car out for the first time.

After Hamilton's retirement, and with Raikkonen controlling the race at the front, a second safety car disrupted his rhythm when Sergio Perez collided with Lotus' Romain Grosjean, who in turn collected Red Bull's Mark Webber, the latter duo both retiring.

Raikkonen's performance aside, Sebastian Vettel's drive from pitlane to podium was sensational, the 25-year-old German finishing third to the likely astonishment of second-placed Alonso.

The Spaniard must have thought, after Red Bull were found guilty of a fuel irregularity following qualifying, he had the chance to overhaul the 13-point gap going into the race.

Vettel, however, restricted the damage to just three points and leads by 10 ahead of the final two events in the United States and Brazil.

Vettel never lost faith in himself and his team because asked whether he believed he would be standing on the podium given the start, he said: "Yes, I did to be honest with you.

"I had a messy start, damaging my front wing, and after that I said to myself 'We either go full attack, or nothing'. So I went full attack and I had a fantastic race."

Despite pushing Raikkonen at the death, Alonso felt he achieved "the maximum" as he finished runner-up for the second consecutive race.

As for his title hopes, he added: "If we finish in front of Sebastian in the final two races then maybe we have a chance. That's our focus now."

With Webber crashing out, Red Bull are five points shy of winning a third consecutive constructors' title in America, where Vettel can win his third straight drivers' crown if he finishes 15 points ahead of Alonso.

Among the minor placings, Jenson Button finished fourth for McLaren, who set a new F1 record of 56 consecutive races in the points, with Force India's Paul di Resta ninth.