This year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina was the most exciting in its short history and arguably one of the most thrilling of the season. Kimi Raikkonen won his first grand prix since returning to the sport this year, Fernando Alonso fought bravely to secure second in an underperforming Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel managed a podium having started from the pit lane. Who was your Driver of the Day?
Arrived in Abu Dhabi as one of four drivers with a mathematical chance of winning the drivers’ title after a consistent season which had seen him score points in 16 of the 17 races. Showed strong pace in Friday practice and hooked up a nice lap in qualifying for the fifth fastest time. Lined up fourth after Sebastian Vettel’s exclusion and made a blistering start, taking advantage of a slow starting Mark Webber to run second early on. Struggled to hold onto leader Lewis Hamilton, but maintained a good gap to those behind. Took the lead when Hamilton retired and controlled the race impressively from the front. Took his first victory since the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix, the first for Lotus in their current guise and the 19th of his career.
Failed to match the pace of the Red Bulls, McLarens and Lotuses in Friday practice as his Ferrari struggled for traction at Yas Marina. Delivered near identical laps in the three segments of qualifying to end up seventh fastest. Promoted to sixth as a result of Vettel’s demotion and made a good start, boldly passing Webber around the outside at Turn Nine. Showed better race pace than in qualifying and passed Pastor Maldonado for third. That became second when Hamilton retired and though he began catching Raikkonen in the closing stages, reducing a six second gap to under a second, he ran out of laps and settled for second. Described it as the perfect result and reduced Vettel’s lead in the championship to 10 points with 50 remaining in the last two races.
Was the form man coming to Abu Dhabi having won the last four races to seize the championship lead. Looked strong in Friday practice, topping the times in the second session. Spent nearly all of final practice in the garage as his Red Bull team tried to solve a brake problem. Got out in time to get some running and then delivered an impressive lap to salvage third on the grid. Stopped out on track after qualifying under instruction from his team. Demoted to back of the grid after the stewards found that he didn’t have the required amount of fuel (one litre) left in the tank for testing. Chose to start from the pit lane so his team could change parts on the car. Cut his way through the field, but had that work underdone as he first clipped Bruno Senna to break part of his front wing and then almost hit Daniel Ricciardo, behind the safety car, instead striking a marker board and breaking a part on the side of the front wing. Dropped to the back of the field when he stopped for a new nose, but fought his way back to run as high as second. Pitted for a new set of boots, which dropped him to fourth, but won a long battle with Jenson Button to take third and limit the damage to his championship lead.