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Raikkonen, A Real Human Among the F1 Automatons

Dimitar Dilkoff/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesThe Iceman Speaketh: Raikkonen, center, with Alonso, left, and Vettel.

ABU DHABI — There were several stories all tied together at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday. The biggest, in sporting terms, was the narrowing of the battle for the 2012 drivers’ title to just two: Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, who finished the race in third and leads the series, and Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, who finished the race in second and trails Vettel by 10 points in the series.

But it was Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus who won the race, taking his first victory since his return from two years away from the series, who has to get the highest points for human entertainment value.

Raikkonen’s nickname is Iceman, for both his nearly translucent color and his frosty demeanor. But on Sunday, with a dry, deadpan wit, the Finn established himself as probably the most fun driver in the series.

After winning the world title with Ferrari in 2007, he was constantly criticized for appearing to lack motivation. He left for two years to go rally racing, without much success. When he returned this year he seemed to be a transformed man in terms of motivation.

Indeed, even though he had not won a single race this year, he still started Sunday with a shot at the title because he had performed so consistently this season.

That chance at the title slipped away on Sunday. Now he’s 57 points behind Vettel, and the maximum points a driver who wins both of the remaining races could win is 50. No matter. Raikkonen has won another race, the 19th of his career, and the first for his new Lotus team.

But aside from his excellent drive to victory — he took the lead after 20 laps, when Lewis Hamilton retired from the lead and the race with a fuel pressure problem — it was his contribution as a personality that entertained the most on Sunday.

In a series in which the multimillion-dollar-earning drivers are often tight-lipped and clean in…

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