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Sebastian Vettel is World Champion after dominant win in Abu Dhabi
Sebastian Vettel is World Champion after dominant win in Abu Dhabi
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Nov 2010   |  4:44 pm GMT  |  305 comments

Sebastian Vettel became the youngest ever F1 World Champion today when he won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

The three most recent champions, the new one in the middle (Getty)

It was a vindication of Red Bull’s decision not to make Vettel hand the win to Webber in Brazil, as it set Vettel up with the chance to do this. And he needed a slice or two or luck, as Hamilton came out behind the Renault of Robert Kubica who prevented him from having a go at Vettel.

He was also lucky on the day that Ferrari made a terrible tactical error, which crippled Fernando Alonso’s race. They were so focussed on covering the early stop for Mark Webber and reacted to that, bringing Alonso in early, rather than seeing the risk posed by drivers who had pitted under a safety car on lap one. That error cost Alonso the world title today.

At the start Button jumped Alonso for third place. Webber didn’t really try to attack while further back Schumacher got caught out by his team mate in Turn 5 and went into a spin. He was smashed by Tonio Liuzzi, who had nowhere to go. The nose of Liuzzi’s car narrowly missed Schumacher’s head.

This brought out a safety car, under which Rosberg pitted, as did Petrov, Di Grassi and the two Hispania cars.

It was a messy end to a patchy comeback season for the seven times champion.

The race restarted on lap six. Hamilton had to go off track to avoid Vettel as he braked to build a gap to the safety car for the restart.

Webber’s tyres started to go off and he pitted on lap 12. But he came out behind Alguersuari in the Toro Rosso and when Alonso pitted on lap 15, he was able to rejoin just ahead of Webber. It seemed ironic that a Red Bull owned Toro Rosso car would be the one to cost Webber the chance to jump Alonso.

Webber pushed Alonso hard, the pair closed up on Petrov. Ferrari told Alonso it was “critical” that he pass Petrov. Meanwhile Alonso had other problems because also ahead of him was Nico Rosberg, who had pitted under the safety car and thus would not be stopping again. This put him on course to be fifth in the race and thus lose the title.

Hamilton pitted on lap 23 and that forced Vettel to react. He pitted a lap later and was lucky that Kobayashi made a mistake as it meant Vettel could get ahead of both Kobayashi and Kubica. The Pole made a sublime pass on the Japanese a lap later. Neither of them had pitted at this stage.

Hamilton passed Kobayashi on lap 27, but couldn’t pass Kubica. Meanwhile Button led on lap 31, having not pitted yet. We have seen him several times this season getting much longer life out of soft tyres than his rivals. Hamilton was on the radio asking for permission to pit for new tyres as his left front was giving him problems.

Button stayed out and Vettel closed him down. Button pitted on lap 40, dropping back into third place.

Kubica pitted on lap 47 and rejoined ahead of Petrov and Alonso, compounding the misery of Ferrari. The Renaults certainly did a job for Red Bull, their customer for engines, today. But it was all fair.

So Alonso started third and finished seventh, Webber started fifth and finished eighth.

Vettel emulated Kimi Raikkonen’s 2007 feat of winning the title in the last round having been third at the start of the race.

“We have to enjoy this moment. It is our moment,” said Vettel. “I was thinking of Kimi’s situation today. It was similar, but we were in a stronger position. One big advantage with Kimi is that he does his own thing and that was my target all weekend long. Who would have thought that a Ferrari starting third with good pace would finish seventh? That’s how it goes some times. I’m just happy to add my name to the list with Schumacher and Senna.

“The car this year was phenomenal, it was a masterpiece. I had the clear target going into the season to win the championship, I was very focussed, maybe I got a bit tense mid season. But to come back after what happened in Spa and all the bad press I got, that’s when you realise who supports you. I realised that sometimes things don’t go your way but there is justice and today it went my way.”

ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX, Yas Marina Circuit, 55 laps
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h39m36.837s
2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 10.1s
3. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 11.0s
4. Rosberg Mercedes + 30.7s
5. Kubica Renault + 39.0s
6. Petrov Renault + 43.5s
7. Alonso Ferrari + 43.7s
8. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 44.2s
9. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 50.2s
10. Massa Ferrari + 50.8s
11. Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari + 51.5s
12. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 57.6s
13. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 58.3s
14. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 59.5s
15. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1m03.1s
16. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth + 1m04.7s
17. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth + 1 lap
18. Di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
19. Senna HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps
20. Klien HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps
21. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth + 4 laps


1. Vettel 256
2. Alonso 252
3. Webber 242
4. Hamilton 240
5. Button 214
6. Massa 144
7. Rosberg 142
8. Kubica 136
9. Schumacher 72
10. Barrichello 47
11. Sutil 47
12. Kobayashi 32
13. Petrov 27
14. Hulkenberg 22
15. Liuzzi 21
16. Buemi 8
17. De la Rosa 6
18. Heidfeld 6
19. Alguersuari 5

1. Red Bull-Renault 498
2. McLaren-Mercedes 454
3. Ferrari 396
4. Mercedes 214
5. Renault 163
6. Williams-Cosworth 69
7. Force India-Mercedes 68
8. Sauber-Ferrari 44
9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 13

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James, you should do a nice piece on Vettle no doubt like you would have for Hamilton, Webber or Alonso….

I am not saying you don’t like Vettel, but it is fairley clear the other 3 you quite enjoy…

so far all I have seen is stories on how Ferrari blew it, or a fans perspective(which was more of a gripe)


Good short article in the Independent today, where Seb says the Button crash was the incident that made a change.

The essence of it was that Seb realised that he did not have the right to win and got his head together – I think he suffered from too much support within the team and finally twigged that there was a problem. I think there was a change from arrogant outrage to a more relaxed demeanour. The Seb of the first half of the season lacked self-criticism.

In a way, it seems he has taken a leaf out of the Hamilton propaganda book – “I learn from my mistakes and come back stronger.”

No complaints about his driving since then, though I’d still like to see him race for a victory from within the pack.

So on to next year and we will see the rise of the new generation of F1 bendy cars from all the teams to level the playing field. That’s quite a design load for the teams to handle – flexible cars, KERS, adjustable rear wing, properly integrated blown diffusers, taking the f-duct concept and working out other ways to make it work.


Congratulations to both Seb and Red Bull on what is a quite amazing achievement. It may have relied upon Ferrari’s abysmal strategic choice today, and there may still be a few rough edges to work on, but anyone who wins 3 out of the last 4 races (and leads the 4th before engine failure) with that much pressure to perform is a worthy champion in my book. Commiserations to Mark and Fernando on just being pipped to the post, but it leaves 2011 looking in pretty good shape.


Congratualations Seb.

Clearly the fastest guy of the season in the fastest car and he deserves the accolades.


It is extremely hard to remember him pulling a rabbit out of the hat when there have been cars in front of him, or actually racing and winning on a wheel to wheel basis through sheer bravery or determination.

There have been plently of drivers who have championships to their name on the same basis (Damon Hill and even Jensen Button amongst them!) when the drivers I really want to have a shield are those that bully hassle and really race – coming from behind and scoring big.

Still – Well done Seb, in years to come you will always be a World Champion, how this is achieved is actually irrelevant and no-one will remember those who lost. (read second, third, fourth etc)!!


James, what do you bet that if Webber is kicking himself for anything, it was his mistake in Korea?

Had he just kept it on the road there, he could have had a decent finish… perhaps top-5. His DNF was wholly his fault, and eliminated a lot of possible points.


What happened to the champagne after the presentation of the trophies?! It was all flat with no fizz, so there was no spray no matter how hard Seb, Lew and Jen shook the bottles!

Can’t see that brand of champagne having its contract renewed next season!


They are in the UAE, which is a Muslim country. Ergo, no alcohol allowed; they used rose-water instead.

Personally, I think they should have used something fizzy… non-alcoholic sparkling wine? Sparkling apple-cider? Perrier? Any of those would be better…


Vettel The Real Chanmpion!!!


I am not happy to say that but Well Done Sebastian! In the end the best driver, in the best car won.


It is great, that he won, but would he have won the worldchampionship, if the old points system were used.


Which “old” points system are you referring to?

The original points? (9-6-4-3-2-1, 2nd is 67% of 1st)

The next system? (10-6-4-3-2-1, 2nd is 60% of 1st)

Or the “we don’t want Schumacher to dominate” system? (10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1, 2nd is 80% of 1st)

The current system (25-18-15…, 2nd is 72% of first) bridges the gap between the old and new systems. It’s not like they’ve radically changed anything, apart from giving points to lower positions.

Remember, it’s the percentage difference that actually matters, not the number of points given.

Therefore, it doesn’t really matter which points system it is. He may have lost using 2009 points… he may have won using 1995 points… he may have tied using 1950 points (no idea, I haven’t bothered to do the math). Realistically, the only system that matters is the one they’re using now. F1 has used enough points systems now, including some silly drop-score systems, that “comparing the past” doesn’t hold much water at all.

Last year’s system was also a ridiculous attempt made a few years ago to prevent Schumacher from winning titles four races before the end of the year, and made championships artificially close. This year they brought the system closer to the older systems that actually rewarded trying to win a race. Personally, I think they should have adopted the (10-6-4-3-2-1) system again, but that’s just because I like seeing people fight for wins, it rewards consistently finishing up front (reviving the coveted top-six finish, where getting points was a real challenge) and prevents drivers from merely strolling to the finish to just get points. At least the current system helps that.


Congratulations to Seb Vettel and Red-Bull – 2010 Drivers and Constructor Champions.

They really should have had those titles wrapped up earlier in the season, but their reliability issues kept others in the hunt and made for a close championship. As in most seasons there were some stunning races where outside influences (weather and track conditions affecting tyre wear) impacted upon proceedings and then there were the usual “processions”.

Despite Abu Dhabi falling somewhat into the latter category; it was an exciting climax to the season – if only watching Alonso endeavour to get past Petrov and failing. I wasn’t too impressed with Alonso’s reaction on the slow down lap – but you can understand some of his frustration.

Only with hindsight can you say that Ferrari made a bad call to pit Alonso when they did and who’s to say that their soft-tyres would have “come back in”, as they did on the Macca’s and Vettel’s RB.

Bring on 2011 🙂


Farewell F1 2010 – its been a cracking year.

Well done Sebestian, I’m not a fan but you got the job done and deserve credit for it. Red Bull designed by far and away the best car of 2010 – probably better than Brawn’s effort of last year and on that basis I think that Button, Alonso and Hamilton are all better than Seb as they would have had it sewn up a long time ago.

Abu Dhabi was a bit of a let down, the race was very processional with hardly any overtakes that I can remember – let alone for WDC winning overtakes. Goes to show that all the rule changes have had little affect on the ability of an F1 car to overtake another on a track. Lets hope the banning of the double diffuser next year will alleviate this somewhat and other rule changes. 2010 was a fantastic season, but it always took rain, or crashes to mix it up a bit and I feel that F1 could still do with more overtaking. Perhaps I’m a little deflated after Abu Dhabi, but I want to see more of moves like Hamilton overtaking on the outside of turn 11 at Melbourne Park.

Its been a fanastic and exciting year overall, and I’m looking forward to F1 2011


Huh, fantastic job, Sebastian.

After Kimi you’ve proved to be “iceman” at the track.

Brilliant!!! CONGRATS!!!


Congrats to Sebastian Vettel for clinching the 2010 WDC. He drove very well and earned it. Vettel never lead the championship this season and did it in style. But what an awful podium celebration for Vettel without any grand fanfare. Not one confetti dropped from the sky.

Felt so sorry for Webber, like nobody cared about him at all. In fact I felt real SAD.

Alonso luck finally caved in after the safety car and the championship slipped away from him while both Renaults held him and Hamilton from overtaking.

Honestly the race wasn’t that great and processional, well, it’s a Herman track. Interlagos will be the perfect finale for 2011.


I will try again. Congrats to Seb Vettel he deserves to be champion. It seems that Bernie and RBR Management got what they wanted. Seb Vettel the F1 2010 Champion. It felt to me it was a planned and orchestrated event from the begining of the year.I know F1 is a sport but let’s not forget it is the Bernie F1 show.For the people’s champion Mark Webber wining would of been a great story! But what do i know?


Congrats to Vettel and RBR, they deserve both titles~

As a big fan of Fernando, I’m so angry of the Ferrari’s strategy in the race.They have the car, the driver, and Lewis & Jenson in between, why they were so focus on Mark? All the strategists should be fired,I think.

At the end of the day, Ferrari is the laughing stock!!!


Hi James. Just an addition to my other comment i just submitted. It would of been a great story if Mark Webber had won it. I know Seb derserves it but it feels like it was planned and orchestrated from the begining of the year. It may be a sport but it definetly is the Bernie F1 Show.


Well done Seb. Congrats to you. Well it seems that Bernie Eccelstone and RBR Management got what they wanted. Could not of written a better script my self. Got give it to the kid(Seb) lots of talent.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

I just watched the end of the race again and I’m appalled at the utterly unsportsmanlike conduct of Alonso.

Vettel was heavily criticised for gesturing to the crowd for signalling that Webber’s move was insane. Alonso pulls up to Petrov and remonstrates at him that he should have pulled over.

Had Hamilton not won the 2008 WDC, would it have been right of him to pull alongside Vettel and approve his disgust at him for overtaking him and costing him the championship?

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Poetic justice.

Maybe this is karma for Alonso after Singapore 2008.


And Hockenheim this year? Or is that accepted now? What about losing out in 2007? Or was that karma for Hungary that year? I can’t keep up with the ins and outs of karma these days.


Hi James,

Well done to Red Bull and Vettel, no question they are worthy champions.

Thanks for the great insights over the past year. It was also great to see you doing the gridwalk\live broadcast on One. Will we see you back in the Comm box anytime soon?


A Duffy


Vettel has been absolutely brilliant in the final four GPs of the season. A big thumbs up to Red Bull for allowing their drivers to race. In fact it is that position that allowed Vettel to win the title. Alonso had to cover Webber when he pitted for tires and that allowed Vettel to slip through. Had all of RBR’s eggs been in Webber’s basket Alonso would only have one moving target to fend off for the title, but because RBR allowed Seb to remain in the title fight it made Ferrari blink at the wrong time and Vettel and RBR capitalized in style. Congratulations to Seb on a truly outstanding achievement.


What a load of rubbish who finished runner up nobody remembers or cares get over yourself Alonso was lucky this year had the redbull been very reliable the season would have been over since mid way


Congratulations to Seb for WDC, the fastest driver with the fastest car, it was a well deserved win.

It was kind of sad to see Mark’s hopes faded like that. Let’s all hope he could keep his form for 2011.

On an end note, James, thank you for all you contributes here and on One HD. It was an unforgettable year with a nice twist to the end. I’ll certainly be glued here over the winter.


Alonso lost today, but he the fact is that in a what was practically the third car he lost the title by only a couple of points. And what is really striking to me: he demolished his team- mate. I cannot understand one thing: why Massa has been so lacklustre this season? Massa is a very nice person, he can loose (oh yes he can, and with class), can play as a team-mate, but isn’t he just a bit off the pace of Alonso? As a Polish fan I wished Kubica took his place of course, but that’s impossible next season. And I really wish Massa all the best, but…


It’s been gone over several times… the hard tires don’t suit him… same thing happened with Schumacher; he couldn’t make the car work with the narrow fronts.

Remember, every car doesn’t suit every driver. Some cars push, and some cars are loose. Some drivers prefer one, others prefer the other. Villeneuve consistently beat Frentzen in Williams; Frentzen was faster than Schumacher in Group C; Schumacher was faster than Massa in Ferrari; yet Massa was faster than Villeneuve in Sauber. Does that mean that Villeneuve lost his talent from Williams to Sauber? Does it mean that Schumacher suddenly learned how to drive once he got out of Group C and into F1? Buemi beat Alguersuari last year, but this year it was the reverse. Was it all down to talent or experience? I doubt it.

It just means that different cars suit different drivers. This year’s cars didn’t suit Massa, Schumacher or Buemi, but they worked quite well for Alonso, Algeursuari and Vettel.


Massa was slower before Hockenheim (notably not slower at Hockenheim though) but since that incident his confidence has gone completely with that the updates have obviously focused on what Alonso prefers.

Thought he’d picked up the last two races, in Brazil his race was destroyed by a loose wheel-nut and today it was destroyed by Ferrari trying to use him as a blocker.


Poor Alonso for your gesture.

let assume that you have a chance to pass Petrov. What you think about Rosberg?

Why Ferrari Team don’t radio to Petrove to let him know that “Fernando is faster than you, do you understand the message?”

If you want to pass someone,do it yourself, Alonso, not just waiting for helping from People around you. . . Alonso might forget that the car in front is Petrov, not Massa.


I just went through the comments above and surprisingly I couldn’t find the following theme: Redbull employed ‘team orders” to win the championship!

It was sheer brilliance but after all, Redbull obviously sacrificed Mark — who admittedly had put himself out of the running — in favour of their front runner. By pitting Weber when they did, they forced Ferrari’s hand; pit to cover Mark or track the front-runners? Obviously Ferrari made the wrong decision but that is all 20/20 hindsight. The fact is that any one that thinks that Redbull pitted Mark for his own sake is naïve. It had everything to do with attempting to distance Alonso from Seb. And it worked.

Team orders are a part of the sport — some employ them more subtly than others but employ them they will nonetheless. I am happy that Ferrari did what they did in Germany when they did otherwise Alonso wouldn’t have had a chance later in the season when the tracks suited Redbull so much better. But for Christian Horner or Mateschitz to pontificate on their “whatever happens, happens” approach is hypocritical.

I am happy that Ferrari employed team order in Germany just as I respect and admire their use today by Redbull. It is a part of the sport. Nevertheless, Sebastian is as worthy a world champion as Fernando is a runner up.


Mark wasn’t sacrificed. RB had to throw the dice to get him into contention but he just wasn’t fast enough initially on the hard tyres.

Thought we might see the red-mist come down and see him try and charge through the field but sounded like he just couldn’t find the performance in the car. Whether that due to mental or mechanical issues I don’t know.


He called for new tyres on radio remember.


Thought Mark radioed in complaining about his tyres?


Unfortunately, some F1 fans just don’t get it and I don’t think they ever will. Team orders, favoring one driver, its all the same. These same fans don’t care if they’re fooled into thinking its all “equal”, just do it in a way they won’t know and they’ll be happy. RBR have clearly been favoring Vettel as McLaren have been favoring Hamilton for the last few races. You can see it in strategies and how the teammates are suddenly lacking pace in comparison to the sister car (whereas before, the performance would seesaw). Because the focus and development is on the favored driver, how hard is that to see ? They preached equality to the end but its not in fact.

F1 is all about the details, if you get them wrong, we all know the consequences. You can give what is seemingly equal equipment but everything little bit adds up. A slightly better chassis, a slightly better engine, tires, strategy and so on. These things can not all be equal. When a teammate is tenths slower, its not because driver A is simply faster than driver B. As a team, you pick your prize horse and run with it. That is sport, live and deal with it.

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