Monday, November 5, 2012

Victory Laps, Compared

Right, you're on. First of us to win a race in 2012
gets the other guy to clean his pool.
Kimi Raikkonen once again shows us how it is done.  His victory in Abu Dhabi on Sunday might have been helped more than a little bit by Vettel's bad luck on Saturday and McLaren's fragility on Sunday, but he was in the right place when it mattered and kept his Lotus Renault in front of Alonso long enough to capture the win.

This I think is more in line with what Schumacher hoped for when he started his comeback tour three years ago. A car capable of being regularly competitive, consistant points-scoring finishes, and the occasional victory.  Then building towards being a championship contender in year three.

It hasn't worked out for Schumacher, who finds himself out of the top seats for 2013 and looking at a return to retirement.

Raikkonen has been the more consistent of the Lotus drivers in 2012 (although some of that is Grosjean's propensity for running into things on lap 1).  There have also been some odd strategic calls, such as in China where Raikkonen fell from 2nd or 3rd all the way out of the points over the space of a single lap.  But he never looked disinterested in the racing the way his critics accused him of being in his final year with Ferrari.  The Lotus was definitely top of the 2nd tier teams, hanging on to the bottom of the top tier -- and was usually in the right place to take advantage when the absolute top got it wrong.

This win is well deserved, and I think we all enjoy it more than we would have a Schumacher victory.  Schumacher is regularly out-shone by Rosberg, whom himself is not doing anything really special with the Mercedes.  The whole last three years make it look like Schumacher's time really has passed, and it is time for him to assume his rightful place as one of the historical elite.

Ironically, Raikkonen was hinting that he'd call it quits after 2013 before the race started.  It will be interesting to see if he finds himself in a more competitive Lotus next year and changes his mind.