The Finn stuck it out till the end and demonstrated remarkable composure to take the season-opener. The win is his second in two years following his victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last season.
Remarkably, it was the same top three that finished on the podium in Abu Dhabi last November when Raikkonen won for the first time on his return to F1.
Raikkonen had started from seventh on the grid after the second and third qualifying sessions had been held over until Sunday due to adverse weather on Saturday, but made his team's strategy work to perfection.
"I was a bit disappointed this [Sunday] morning from qualifying. I took it a bit too easy and made a small mistake at one point," said Raikkonen.
"It wasn't the ideal starting place, but then it was still 10 better than last year.
"There were still a lot of question marks going into the race but it turned out to be good, and hopefully we can have many more of these kind of races.
"I'm happy for the team and for myself also. We've had a quick car all weekend and there were no issues with it either, so we could just focus on trying different things and getting the setup how we wanted.
"I had a good feeling that we would be ok with the tyres after practice and the team got the strategy perfect. I made a few places at the start and then had a good battle with Lewis [Hamilton] but after that it was quite simple; probably one of my easiest wins.
"You can't start the season much better than winning the first race and of course we hope we can be fighting at the front of the Championship, but there's a long way to go still and we need to keep pushing hard all the way."
While Raikkonen was clearly happy with the car, Lotus' second driver Romain Grosjean revealed he had experienced some problems.
"Something felt wrong with my car, so I have to sit down with the team and analyse where the issue came from," he said.
It felt so good all weekend until the race itself, but in the end the race was long and quite difficult for me.
"We know that Albert Park can be a tricky circuit and the weather has certainly not helped today [Sunday]. It's been a great weekend for the team with Kimi's win so it's clear there's pace in the car. Let's hope I can unlock that pace too next weekend in Sepang."