ABU DHABI // Bernie Ecclestone's sodden shirt was testament to the blazing Middle East heat, yet Kimi Raikkonen remained ice cool at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to hold off the challenge of the two world championship contenders and claim his first victory in three years.
Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, returned to Formula One at the start of the season after a two-year hiatus, but has not recorded a victory since beating Italy's Giancarlo Fisichella to the chequered flag in Belgium in 2009 when he drove for Ferrari.
Last night's remarkable ride around Yas Marina Circuit did still eliminate the Lotus driver from the title race, although it gave the famous marque its first win since Aryton Senna's 1987 Detroit Grand Prix success. Not that Raikkonen seemed too affected afterwards.
"Nothing much really" was the famously monotonous Finn's answer when asked how he was feeling after the race. "I'm very happy for my team and for myself also. We had a clear circuit to be able to use our speed."
Raikkonen began in fourth, but enjoyed an impressive start to quickly jump Mark Webber and Pastor Malonado and slot into second place behind Lewis Hamilton.
When the McLaren-Mercedes driver lost power and was forced to retire after only 19 laps, Raikkonen inherited the lead.
Nicknamed "the Iceman", the 33 year old never looked like letting the pressure get to him, even when the heat cranked up in the final stages as an increasingly large Fernando Alonso began to appear in his rear-view mirror.
"Perhaps we were not the fastest in the end, but we were quick enough and consistent enough to win so it's great," Raikkonen added.
"We've had some difficult races in the second half of the season, so it's fantastic to come back with a win."
Eric Boullier, the Lotus team principal, took the lead from his monosyllabic driver, saying he had "only one word first of all: great". He did, however, elaborate, adding: "There are many words such as relief and deserved.
"It's obviously a very well deserved result for the team. I'm pleased for Kimi and he did a very good job."
There was much celebration among the team, but Raikkonen, as ever, appeared blase.
"I'm happy, but there's nothing to jump around about," he said. "Really, we still have a few races to go, I'll try to do the same again, and for sure we're going to have a good party and when we are feeling bad after a long night, we will remember how we feel now."
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