After a season of so many near misses, Kimi Räikkönen produced a fantastic performance to win the 2012 Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix yesterday and give his Lotus team its first victory since 2008. Räikkönen’s latest performance also means that the 2012 season has now seen a total of eight different winners.

At first it seemed that pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton of McLaren would easily win the race. Even after the safety car emerged on lap nine, due to Mercedes-AMG driver Nico Rosberg overshooting HRT’s Narain Karthikeyan, Hamilton managed to maintain a good lead, though his car lost power on lap 20 due to a fuel pressure issue and he was forced to retire.

The initial safety car period (it would emerge again), meanwhile, helped Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel, who started the race from the pit lane, to catch up with the rest of the field and eventually fight his way to near the top of the pack. The reigning world champion showed why he’s such an impressive driver by making it to the third spot on the podium.

His wasn’t the only stunning performance, however.  Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso finished second after starting at sixth on the grid in a car that definitely was not the class of the field. It means that having trailed Drivers’ Championship leader Vettel by 13 points after the previous Indian Grand Prix, Alonso leaves Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit just ten points down.

There was plenty of action further down the field as well. On lap 38, Sauber’s Sergio Perez came into contact with Lotus’ other driver, Romain Grosjean, who was battling with Force India’s Paul di Resta at the time. At this point, oncoming driver Mark Webber of Red Bull Racing had nowhere to go and ended up crashing into Grosjean. This caused the safety car to come out for a second time, further slowing things down.

Making up the top ten at the end of the race were McLaren’s Jenson Button, Williams’ Pastor Maldonado, Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, Williams’ Bruno Senna, Force India’s Paul di Resta and STR’s Daniel Ricciardo.

By making the podium, Sebastian Vettel has managed to maintain his lead in the Drivers’ Championship, with his tally now coming in at 255 points. With only two more races to go, Fernando Alonso is the only remaining potential threat to Vettel earning a third crown. The Spaniard has a total of 245 points. In third place is Kimi Räikkönen, who has 198 points.

In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull Racing leads the way with 422 points, followed by Ferrari with 340 points and McLaren in third with 318 points.

Teams now return to the North American continent where they’ll start preparing for the first United States Grand Prix since 2007. This time the race will be held at the newly developed Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.