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Sebastian Vettel makes podium after sensational drive

Kimi Raikkonen won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but an eventful race was remarkable for the performance of Sebastian Vettel. As pileups and mishaps occurred all around him, the German made his way from the very back of the field to claim third place, and stay in control of the drivers' championship.

Vettel, leader in the drivers’ standings, had been relegated to the back of the grid for the start. Vettel had left his Red Bull car on the track after qualifying rather than returning it to the pit lanes. That might sound like a penalty for careless parking, but in fact it is a requirement to supply a fuel sample after qualifying, and Vettel was unable to do so.

The Red Bull team remained hopeful that he could get among the points and he didn’t disappoint, with a magnificently bold drive. Vettel sustained damage to his wing and changed tyres twice, but came past Jenson Button late in the race to secure third. It was arguably a more impressive drive than his previous four wins in successive Grands Prix.

"I went to see Sebastian before the race and he said 'I'll see you on the podium'," the Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said. "I think it's one of the best drives of his career. He really went for it. To go from pit lane to podium is phenomenal."

Fernando Alonso, by finishing second, marginally closed the gap on Vettel, but had been hoping to take a more significant advantage from Vettel’s qualification setback. He is now ten points behind, but Vettel could secure a third successive title by winning the next race in Austin, Texas.

Raikkonen’s win gave Lotus their first triumph since 1987, when Ayrton Senna was driving for them. "Hopefully this will give everyone belief and turn the tables so we can win more races," Raikkonen said. "If not this year then next year."

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