Lewis Hamilton clinched the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after dominating every session except for qualifying. Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button completed the podium in 2nd and 3rd respectively. Hamilton and Alonso were competing against each other for most of the race, with Button, Webber and Massa trading positions 3, 4 and 5. The slow pit stops at Ferrari and McLaren coupled with the two DRS zones on the straights livened the race up a little.
Most teams opted for a 2 stop strategy, with the Pirelli tires proving durable on the Yas Marina circuit. Senna expected a safety car period after Vettel’s incident and along with Perez – who was involved in some contact – pitted after the first lap. Red Bull opted for a 3 stop strategy with Webber, using a second set of soft tyres before switching to the hard ones on the final lap.
Race winner Hamilton switched to the hard compound before Alonso, with Ferrari looking to beat the McLaren by using the pace of the Ferrari on the softs for a longer time. However, a slow pitstop of 5.2s dampened Ferrari hopes with Hamilton taking back the lead while Alonso pitted. Both Williams cars kept impeding the race leaders and Maldonado – and later Senna in the Renault – was handed a drive-through penalty.
Vettel’s first retirement
The race began with Vettel pulling clear of Hamilton to take a good lead but he suffered damage before turn 2. With the low tyre pressure causing a puncture on hitting the exit kerb, Vettel was forced to crawl back to the pits at the end of the first lap. He was ruled out after the Red Bull mechanics decided his car was too damaged. This was the first time Vettel had failed to complete a race this year, blowing the race wide open.
Battle in midfield
Force India increased the gap between themselves and Sauber to 15 points in the Constructors’ championship after Sutil and di Resta finished in 8th and 9th, right ahead of the Saubers in 10th and 11th. Toro Rosso had a disappointing outing, after their great race in the Indian GP, with Alguersuari finishing a low 15th while Buemi retired from the race. Barrichello had a great race in his Williams, finishing 12th after starting 23rd on the grid, but couldn’t manage any points.
Button suffered a faulty KERS but managed to hold Webber off to take third place in his McLaren. Further behind, Pastor Maldonado lost pieces of his front wing, but then proceeded to set his fastest lap while Massa picked up the debris. Massa made a few errors -spinning towards the end – and finished fifth, behind Webber.
At the end of the day, Hamilton would be thrilled to have won, especially after the turbulent period he has had in his personal life.
Here are the standings for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the only Grand Prix where the race starts under the sun and ends under floodlights:
- Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
- Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
- Jenson Button (McLaren)
- Mark Webber (Red Bull)
- Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
- Nico Rosberg (Mercedes-Benz)
- Michael Schumacher (Mercedes-Benz)
- Adrian Sutil (Force India)
- Paul di Resta (Force India)
- Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)
- Sergio Perez (Sauber)
- Rubens Barrichello (Williams)
- Vitaly Petrov (Renault)
- Pastor Maldonado (Williams)
- Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso)
- Bruno Senna (Renault)
- Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus)
- Jarno Trulli (Lotus)
- Timo Glock (Virgin)
- Tonio Liuzzi (HRT)