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Super Vettel lights up Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
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Super Vettel lights up Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Nov 2009   |  4:29 pm GMT  |  52 comments

Sebastian Vettel won the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix today, his 4th win of the season and the 6th for his team. Team mate Mark Webber finished second, fighting off a late challenge from Jenson Button in the Brawn-Mercedes.

It was Vettel’s fourth win of the season, also the fourth 1-2 finish for Red Bull Racing and, encouragingly for them they have won the final three races of the season, which bodes well for 2010. Red Bull became a top team this season and believe that they can stay there for the future.

Picture 53
Lewis Hamilton started from pole position and led the opening stint, but was troubled with a brake problem from early on. He was unable to build a big enough lead to combat Vettel’s longer strategy and lost the lead to the German. Shortly afterwards he was told to pit and retire the car. Abnormal brake wear was the reason.

In the middle stint of the race, Vettel pulled away easily from team mate Mark Webber, meanwhile Jenson Button had another battle with Toyota’s Kamui Kobayashi as he emerged from his first stop. The Japanese was on light fuel at the time and attacked the world champion very aggressively, forcing Button into a mistake under braking into Turn 8. It was a stunning piece of driving by Kobayashi. Button said after their battle in Brazil that Kobayashi is ‘crazy’ and clearly was mindful of that as he battled him.

Kobayashi was on a one stop strategy and was fighting Button for a podium, but when he switched to the soft tyre for his second stint his pace dropped off. But he came in a creditable 6th.

In the closing stages of the race Webber was struggling with the soft tyre and Button was able to close in on him. The pair battled for the final couple of laps, but Webber was able to hold off Button in the main passing places.

Meanwhile in the battle for third place in the constructors’ championship Kimi Raikkonen lost out to Heikki Kovalainen in the pit stops.

Rubens Barrichello damaged his front wing in a tangle with Webber in the first corner, but it didn’t seem to slow him down too much and he did not change it at the first pit stop.

The race had some overtaking, largely due to lighter cars on different strategies from heavier cars which had just pitted. But the field spread out a lot in the opening stint and the retirement of Hamilton cost the race it’s incisive edge until the final cameo from Webber and Button.

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52 Comments
  1. Werewolf says:

    Not a great race, perhaps, but certainly not boring either. The venue looks set to become one of the ‘event’ races on the calendar and the circuit has more potential than many of the new ones, even if field spread was an issue today.

    It is about time Japan had a genuine topline F1 driver. I recall being initially excited by both Sato and Takagi but they ultimately disappointed (though I will admit to hoping we shall see Sato return next year), so it would be great if Kobayashi was to be the real deal.

  2. Baktru says:

    I definitely want to see Kobayashi in F1 next year… He was quite aggressive again today and he did beat his team mate after all…

    Otherwise, the end to a strange season on an interesting new track. I’m not sure yet how much I like Yas Marina, but the race did have some good moments.

    Now let’s hope Kimi gets a seat for next year… Aah and since Kimi is not racing for Ferrari any more, time to burn my Ferrari stuff ;)

  3. Maria says:

    Vettel and Kobayashi were superb!

    Hamilton was no longer fast in race conditions all the hype yesterday about him being in a class of his own is by the partisan british crowd. If I was able to realize this was all down to fuel levels, KERS and the Mclaren’s over aggressive first lap use of the tyres, then the there are plenty others who didnt take Hamilton’s pole seriously.

    Vettel had it all covered from start to finish. All he had to do was keep up and keep he did, and pressured Hamilton into errors. Those hard barking moves into the corners by Hamilton must have done serious damage to the already faulty brakes.

    Hamilton didnt throw the win away, he was completely beaten to it either way. If he managed to stay on track he would finish maybe on podium but the win was out of the question for Hamilton.

    And button is sounding like a spoiled child when he says Kobayashi was crazy, he has got balls to do some moves but cry babies like button can only complain. Tsk Tsk.

    1. Michael says:

      Huh, no, I don’t think so. Hamilton’s brakes were already a problem on Saturday. Furthermore, it is not about Vettel putting pressure on him (in fact, he was never close to Hamilton at all), it was a matter of getting temperature in those brakes, which he couldn’t do.

      Get your facts straight, please.

      By the way, even fuel-corrected, Hamilton beat Vettel by half-a-second. His pole was impressive, he beat Vettel fair and square and even if he was affected by his brake problem, he still managed to post the 3rd best lap of the entire race, which is quite impressive.

      I believe him when he says we did not see his true pace during the race.

      1. Maria says:

        The car had no issues on Saturday, which shows the multiple number of off-track excursions were the reason for the brakes to fail faster. Besides what was the issue? Excessive brake wear, if you have have too many of those excursions and brake hard on a track that is already hard on brakes you will spend the life of the brakes quicker.

        Stop trying to find excuses to berate the redbulls and hype up Hamilton with partisan comments, His laptimes were down to Mclaren’s first lap aggressive tyres usage and the KERS, in the race conditions redbull showed their truth worth and Vettel blitzed everyone else.

        Perhaps it has everything to with the fact that Vettel is the next super star who will go onto to be the next multiple champion wunder kid. This induces insecurity for certain sections in the media, UK and some fans.

      2. Patrickl says:

        The car did get the brakes replaced in parc ferme. Obviously something DID go wrong there.

    2. raffamuffin says:

      The fact he had brakes that weren’t working correctly today and not yesterday is completely missing from your argument. It’s a bit hard to go full speed into a corner not being sure your car is going to slow down. I agree the Red Bulls were competitive today, I just don’t understand your negative attitude towards Lewis. He did outstandingly well yesterday – and was rightly credited for an excellent performance. Thats not fanboyism thats fact – he outclassed the field yesterday. I believe he would have been competitive today had the car not had issues. You could see from the Button v. Webber battle at the end, Button clearly had the faster car but Webber maintained position.

    3. neil says:

      I really don’t know how to respond to this, the pole was earned, FULLY, that brake issues destroyed his race takes nothing away from this.

    4. Roger Hammerstein says:

      “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?”

    5. Mav says:

      Erm… Hamilton’s brakes were kerput from the start of the race – so he’s hardly going to be setting the pace he showed in Practice and Qualy, because you see, they are a fairly important part of an F1 car. But don’t let that disrupt your Vettel fangirl/Hamilton hater fantasy.

      1. Maria says:

        Yes they are important to any vehicle. impressive you had to specifically point that out, such an irrelevant explanation to even make.

        And actuallyIi am an Alonso fan not Vettel’s. Its purely appreciation of Vettel’s supreme ability as a driver ;)

      2. Mav says:

        So why are you trolling about Hamilton getting destroyed and his qualy being nothing special when you’ve just all but confirmed…..

        Ahhhh….. You’re an Alonso fangirl…… ;)

    6. zenmeister says:

      This is a reply to your second paragraph. I’m not actually a huge Hamilton fan, but there was no hype about Hamilton on Saturday. He was the class of the field from the moment the cars took to the track on Friday. It’s a fact that the McLaren guys were up until 4:00am in the morning getting the car ready for qualifying. They felt that pole position was a just reward for their efforts. Incidentally, I was not told that he had a braking issue on Saturday and I exchanged texts with someone there about the likelihood of him winning the race and we both agreed it looked to be in the bag, barring the unforeseen. I had a cryptic text on Sunday afternoon, simply saying “The unforeseen did happen!”.

      The only negative point about Lewis’s performance is that whilst I can understand his disappointment about the brake problem, it was his first retirement for mechanical reasons during the whole of his 3-year F1 career, which is pretty amazing.

    7. Suz says:

      Vettel drove very well – he’s likely to be a champion one day. Hamiliton was perhaps a bit unlucky, but has been shown a time or two that he can be pressurised into making mistakes. Kobayashi is going to be fun to watch, should he get himself a seat for next year.

      “And button is sounding like a spoiled child when he says Kobayashi was crazy, he has got balls to do some moves but cry babies like button can only complain. Tsk Tsk.”

      There is definite translation problem in the switch from a spoken to written comment. I heard the interview where Button referred to Kobayashi as “crazy”. The word was definitely said, but what is missing here is tone of voice. It was said more in admiration than disparagement, it wasn’t a complaint at all, so you’re being a bit unfair to JB.

      1. Maria says:

        Not to mention the swears on live TV, dont see your point to cover for JB’s list of mistakes.

        He is just wailing because Kamui out foxed him on track.

      2. suzie says:

        But that is the point – when he called Kamui “crazy” he wasn’t wailing, but admiring the man’s bravery – it’s obvious in the tone of voice. As to swearing on TV, most of the drivers have, sometimes it happens. JB is not the worst for that.

      3. Anthony says:

        Hamilton didnt make any “mistakes”, his brakes were failing since lap 3, and thats why they had to retire him.

      4. suzie says:

        I didn’t mean he made an obvious mistake in the Abu Dhabi race – but if his brakes were failing from the beginning, then I would have expected to see him doing more to protect them. What I was really meaning was that in general, Hamiliton can be pushed into making mistakes – look at Monza for an example. He crashed out at the last minute because he was trying too hard to take a place he had little chance of getting – and it’s not the first time he has done that.

  4. Foobar says:

    Sure the track is one of the most beautiful racing environments around but as a racing track it’s garbage.

    They should smooth out some of the sharp curves and replace them with faster corners. Now the track resembles street circuit which you can drive with on/off throttle/brake: This pretty much makes it a car-instead-of-driver track. The safety zones are also ridiculous with drivers having absolutely no incentive to stay on the track anymore.

    Though, I was bit surprised how few corners were cut to protect position….but that was most likely because there were only very few overtaking maneuvers during the race. :-P

    Infact, in my opinion, the only highlight of the race was the Japanese driver Kobayashi.

  5. Luke Robbins says:

    I always feel empty at the end of the season. Good race today, shame for LH because maybe SV wouldnt have had it all his own way.

    Few shake ups driver wise in the next few weeks… any more news on this area James?

    Thank you very much for your blog this season, it has been very insightful and entertaining. I will keep looking throughout the winter for updates and gossip!

  6. jude says:

    Anyone else noticed that whenever Martin interviews Lewis on the gridwalk, Lewis’ propensity for bad luck increases?

  7. Jason C says:

    Without the excitement of the place being new, it would have been a pretty boring race, today. Excepting Button v Webber as you mention.

    It could just be the newness of the place, but I didn’t feel it had much charm. Tell you what I would have liked: one of the leaders binning his car in the pit exit just after Kobayashi had pitted, perhaps putting him at the front of the field.

  8. Silverstoned says:

    James, are there more teams after Kobayashi than just Toyota?

    Killer Koby is a fantastic turn up for F1. He may not be champion in 2010 but it looks certain he will give the next champ a good fright. That’s fright, not fight,

    We haven’t seen such a mean, bad, fast pilot in F1 since I don’t know who…. You can easily guess his diet: live chickens and broken glass

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes we love him! What a fighter. Shame he couldn’t get the car going on the softs with the heavy fuel, he was in with a podium shout at half distance

    2. Stuart Kent says:

      He has attracted similar comments to those aimed at Montoya after some of his overtaking tactics. I mean this in a most complimentary way!

    3. Luke Robbins says:

      Since taku you mean? It is always good to have an unpredictable jap driver on the grid.

  9. Paul says:

    A podium was never realistically on for Kobayashi. He was the fastest one-stopper on the soft tyres, so 5th/6th was about the maximum today. I can’t understand why he’s gone so well in F1 after an indifferent season in GP2. And quite how Grosjean has looked so bad in F1 when he was the dominant force in GP2 at the start of the year.

    And great drive from Heidfeld today, which yet again gets overlooked. He outclassed Kubica today, and all season and has scored more points than him in all the races they competed together at BMW Sauber. Yet Kubica is leading light at Renault and Heidfeld could be left out in the cold if McLaren, Toyota and Renault sign other drivers for next year, which is quite likely

    1. Malcolm says:

      re: Grosjean

      Difference in GP2 teams? Difference in capability of Renault vs. Toyota? Difference in driver-engineer relationships? Lots of variables and unknowns. Look how Fisi floundered in the Ferrari after shining in the Force India. It’s not a simple comparison by any means.

  10. David Turnedge says:

    Yas looks lke a beautiful version of Valencia. It is a stunning circuit. But give me a Silverstone, Spa or Monza any day over a new Scalectrix set. Valenicia is now looking like a joke circuit.

  11. santori says:

    The setting is remarkable and the track isn’t too bad. For me it’s certainly preferable to Singapore, to use the most obvious comparison (the cost, the appearance, the dubious morality).

    And Kobayashi has really impressed me, too, of course (I hope Jérôme d’Ambrosio gets a chance to do the same). Well done, that man. I’m sure team bosses took note. I’d like to think they also took note of another fine drive from Nick Heidfeld.

  12. Alan G says:

    Hi James,

    Thanks for taking the time to bring everyone your fantastic blog this season.

    What did you think of the incident with Alguersuari in the Red Bull pit-box.

    Apart from the obvious shock from the Red Bull mechanics, it was quite a humourous mix-up.

    Do you think that incident could have cost Vettel the win if Jaime had been a few seconds slower getting into and out of the box?

    1. James Allen says:

      It was close. I’ve just watched it again and there were only a few seconds between him being ushered out and Vettel arriving! It seems odd but the mechanics dress similarly and are next door to each other here in the pit lane. It’s a surprise it hasn’t happened before.

      1. Malcolm says:

        Did you notice if the lollipop man was out in the pitlane calling him in? I wonder if it was the Red Bull team that called him into their box, thinking it was Vettel…?

        I made the same comment during the race; “why are both teams dressed in dark blue?”

  13. Michael Grievson says:

    I easreally dissapointed in this race. Yet again a new circuit produces a dull race. Forget the facilities. Give us a great circuit. Planet f1 makes a good comparison with brazil and yas.

  14. Ginger says:

    It was a shame that Lewis retired early and from that point there was only going to be one winner.

    Not a great race and coming from the back of the excellent one in Brazil it is a shame. Lets hope for better next year when it will be the penultimate race and we will hopefully have Lewis, Jenson, Seb, Mark, Kimi, Fernando, Felipe all racing for the title, now that would be good to see….

    1. Anthony says:

      I think 2 drivers dont deserve to be on that list you made… (webber, button).

      1. Ginger says:

        You say that but next year JB will be racing as WDC and will have that confidence and knowledge of how to win, he just needs the car.

        As for Mark he started with an serious injury and now has a couple of wins behind him.

        I wouldn’t rule either out but it has to be said that from the list they would be behind Lewis and Fernando for sure.

      2. F1 Fan says:

        What’s your problem with Webber? For any Australian to be in F1 they must be not good drivers but great! As they dont have the backing either politically or financially to me given a drive unlike other drivers.

        I reckon he’s in the top five drivers on the grip at the moment.

  15. AJ Senior says:

    Great drive by Vettel, for sure.

    But he’s going to have to do some serious work over the break on his post-race interviews. He’ll need to work out something new to talk about next season when there is no more ‘magic button’. For sure.

  16. Malcolm says:

    Another bore of a race on another boring Tilke track. Thank goodness for a few differing strategies allowing some overtaking, as well as the little battle between Webber and Button at the end.

    Why do people keep signing this guy on to design circuits? Seriously, it’s all straights and tight corners, with a bland constant-radius sweeper or two in a sad attempt to spice up the circuit. Silverstone is a vastly superior circuit, and it’s an old airport!

  17. alex says:

    It is a great setting but another boring no-overtaking circuit. Really i almost fell asleep half way through. Kobayashi a very pleasant surprise.
    The setting sun made for great pictures and the colors in hd made the whole thing look like a computer game, which is sad any way. I wonder if any of the drivers had anything to say about having the sun right in their eyes in a couple of places. Can’t have been nice for them…

  18. Adron says:

    Save for the Button and Webber fight at the end, it was a snoozer. I find it pretty remarkable though Vettel’s Renault held together afterall.

  19. Mr G says:

    End of season in Abu Dhabi and what a race.
    But now the dilemmas for the winter !!!

    Will Red Bull be able to capitalise the momentum of the end of the season to be competitive next year.
    Will the new design Brawn, looking like a Red Bull, be fast straight away at the beginning of the season and will Ross and his team able to update the car as fast as the rest of the grid ?
    Will McLaren able to give LH a car able to compete and try to win his second world driver championship ?
    Will Ferrari and Alonso able to be up there with the best and have a competitive car ?
    Will Force India be able to built a better car than this year and be a real surprise at the beginning of next season.
    Will Williams play their cards right with Cosworth engine ?
    Will Renault be able to produce a new winning car and moreover will Kubica able to develop the car as soon as it will be on the road ?
    Will Sauber be on the grid next season ?
    What will the rookies be able to take to the plate without any testing ?
    Will Raikonnen have a sabatical and become another Finn to retire after ?
    Will Toyota find in Koby the reason to stay in F1, slim their structure and built a decent car with a fast young driver ?

    Interesting winter and lots of time to blog until the season will start.

  20. Jameson says:

    I have to say that I wasn’t looking forward to this race. I’m not big on the setup of the track, but I did like the dusk race as it made for beautiful shots.

    I’m glad to see Vettel secure another win for his CV. As much as I’d love to see Button WDC again, I think that Vettel will grab the gold in 2010, and it would be well deserved.

  21. Peter Jones says:

    James,
    What’s your feeling about the comments made by a number of your peers about the design of the track, especially “Surely it is possible in days of computerised planning and fluid dynamics, particularly when money is no object in this desert kingdom, for designer Hermann Tilke to scientifically create a circuit with half-a-dozen real overtaking areas” by Bob McKenzie The Daily Express?

    On the mark or off?

    Thanks,

    Peter Jones

    1. James Allen says:

      There are some overtaking places, as we saw on Sunday. Bit of a shame there are too many 2nd gear corners in final part of the lap, but taking in the part under the hotel adds to the spectacle. It is a track which spreads the cars out quickly from the start. After 9 laps the P10 car was 20 secs behind. That’s the problem for me

  22. Ian Blackwell says:

    Terrific job on the blog James. Definitely the most informed place on F1.

    Excellent season for Red Bull. With the stability in their team and in the regulations, there is no reason they can’t be very competitive next year. The only two things that might not help them are the number of unforced errors their drivers seem to be capable of and the fact that they do not have an engine for next year. Any idea on what engine Red Bull will run in 2010 James?

    1. James Allen says:

      Engine is becoming a problem and starting to threaten their competitiveness for 2010. They really want Mercedes but it’s not coming. Renault and Cosworth are also options

      1. Kedar says:

        James,
        I thought I read somewhere that Red bull will use Renault for 2010 season. There was also some news around the fuel efficiency of Renault and how that would help in the world of no refueling.
        What is your take?
        It seems quite silly to me that FIA makes so many drastic changes (earlier this year in an attempt to bring downforce levels and failed miserably with the legalization of the double diffuser) and Next year with Budget caps and all asking all the teams to redesign their fuel tanks and the wheel base presumaby.
        Another question on the news that Bridgestone is pulling out at the end of 2010. Is it possible that F1 doesnt have a tyre supplier for 2011?

      2. James Allen says:

        No decision yet on engines. Tyre supply will go out to tender.

  23. Ray.C. says:

    Great Backdrop, ordinary circuit, I’d prefer it the other war around.

    Call me old-fashioned, but in a parallel universe, I’d swap Yas/Valencia/Singapore for let’s say, the old Hockenheim and Laguna Seca.

    Ferrari World looks intriguing, living in Australia, I’d probably fly over it on my way to Italy to have my “Ferrari” experience.

    Thanks for your input this year James,Great season.

  24. graham says:

    Yawn! And next year will only be worse with no refueling as everyone will be on the same strategy unless they badly flatspot a tire. When will we ever see real overtaking again?

    Nice venue, too bad the track is dull. I am all for another “event venue” like Monaco but can we get some real racing please?

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