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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Who was your driver of the day?
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Nov 2011   |  12:58 pm GMT  |  130 comments

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton took his third victory of the season as Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel crashed out in an intriguing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina. So who was your driver of the day?

Lewis Hamilton

Began the weekend strongly, topping the times in second and third practice as his McLaren team had some trouble-free running. Set the quickest time in qualifying, albeit in Q2 when times don’t count for pole, and finished second quickest after getting edged out by Vettel. Made a clean getaway and benefitted from Vettel’s puncture at the start to take the lead. Was closed down by Alonso in the first stint but came out in front after the first stops and from there controlled the race. It was his third win of the season and 17th of his career.

Fernando Alonso

Was fifth, third and fifth fastest in the first three practice sessions respectively before out-qualifying his team-mate Massa by over half a second to start fifth. Made three places on the opening lap courtesy of Vettel’s misfortune and solid passes on Webber and Button. Kept pace with Hamilton in the first two stints but got baulked by a HRT coming into the pits at the final round of stops and was unable to jump Hamilton. Struggled for pace on the harder tyre in the final stint but held on for second to score his 10th podium of the season and close the gap to second-placed Jenson Button in the drivers’ standings to 10 points.

Jenson Button

Topped the times in the opening practice session but lacked the pace to match team-mate Hamilton in the next two. Delivered a storming lap in qualifying to finish 0.009secs behind Hamilton. Starting third, he lost a place to Alonso on the first lap before a KERS problem hampered his progress. Managed the problem for the rest of the race and held off a charging Webber to finish third and score his 11th podium of the season.

Mark Webber

For his overtaking as much as anything! Qualified fourth but lost a position to Alonso at the start. Ran a net fourth after team-mate Vettel’s retirement. Was glued to the back of Button’s gearbox but could not make a move stick. A problem at the first stop saw him lose time leading to the team moving him onto a three-stop strategy. Was very fast in the closing stages before pitting with one lap to go for the harder compound tyres and went on to finished fourth.

Nico Rosberg

Started the weekend by announcing a multi-year contract extension to his Mercedes’ contract. Out-qualified team-mate Schumacher for the 15th time this season but dropped behind him at the start. Held his nerve to take the position back with a brave move before comfortably pulling away. Managed his tyres well and had good battles with Webber and Button to finish fifth, just two seconds behind Massa. He is now seven points ahead of Schumacher in the drivers’ standings with one race remaining.

Kamui Kobayashi

A disappointing qualifying session saw him finish 16th fastest, five places behind Sauber team-mate Sergio Perez. Made up five places on the opening lap but lost three of those as he struggled for pace on the harder compound tyre. Found some speed when he switched to the softs and fought his way up the field, passing Perez for 10th. It was his first points finish in seven races and helped Sauber inch ahead of Toro Rosso in the battle for seventh pace n the constructors’ championship.

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Vettel! For giving us fans a real race by crashing out! Boyoboy it’s been a while since we didn’t know who’d come out top.


Driver of the day: Rubens Barrichelo.

Driver of the season: Alonso.


Actually, I think the driver of the season is Jenson Button.


Hey hie James,

MY driver of the day was Fernando Alonso…fantastic drive…n even Lewis drove very well…stayed away from Felipe…James i want to hear from you regarding Webber`s strategy during 2nd pit stop why redbull always do mistakes or you can say wrong strategic calls with Webber…their were only 20 laps to go which can be done on medium tyres and Webber did had the pace to beat Button`s mclaren…then why did redbull screwed it…i have seen many times this year they are not fair enough with webbers pit strategy…what`s your take on this James…


Obviously Hamilton did nothing more than was expected of him and Alonso impressed the most among the leaders.

I would be interested to know James whether you think Hamilton was on the limit, or just comfortably maintaining the gap? Most people seem to think the latter, but how can there be any sense in a strategy with a 3 second lead? One tiny slip in the final stop and you could lose the race – surely if you had the potential pace to get a 10 second lead, you would use it?


Hamilton was controlling the pace. You could see he would not let the gap go to less than 3 secs barring traffic.

He even said he had pace in reserve and when he noticed ALonso did a quick lap, he would retaliate.

Hamilton controlled it because he’s learnt you don’t need to win by 10 seconds.

That’s why Alonso never got remotely close to challenging by getting inside the DRS window.


I voted Alonso mainly because he was able to find such really great pace in a car that honestly was a footnote during practice and qualifying. The car didn’t show the pace of the Red Bull’s or McLaren’s but he somehow managed to make quick work of Webber and Button and pull out a much better than expected result.

Hamilton gave a Vettel-like drive by leading the majority of the race, meaning he didn’t have to do any racing though it was completely dominant.

He gets my recognition as well simply because how much he needed that win in light of the downers going with his personal life and media criticism. Honestly seeing him so down in Japan, Korea, and India was really depressing. Seeing that win put such a big smile on his face again had to be one of the most refreshing things I’ve seen in a while. Vettel had plenty of moments. This day belonged to Lewis and his mum.


FA was awesome. JA had another solid drive with some robust defensive driving early on. Webber was disapointing, yet again (too little, too late). Lewis has my vote for his performance the entire weekend and winning the race. The latter counts for something!.

BTW, how does one “outperform” a machinery?..JA outperformed Massa with the same equipment; all we can conclude is that he got more out the car than Massa did.


I’ll go for Lewis this time, although it is indeed a close call between him and Fernando. It’s also about how much he needed this win, his broken spirit till yesterday and the faultless drive. It was a fantastic effort by Alonso and Ferrari, but Fernando and Ferrari “just” got it wrong at the last pit stop. McLaren’s timing with the tyre management was inch-perfect; Lewis (new mediums) got up to Fernando’s speed (old softs) right away.


I definitely agree. Lewis’ broken spirit needed this win more than anyone and you could really tell by comparing the way he was in Korea to the way he was after winning at Abu Dhabi.


FA got my vote as he outperformed his car again when looking at quali times. You cant really use FP as you dont know fuel loads, KERS / DRS usage around the track. (I did notice during FP that Vettel was not using his DRS as much as others at the same time & place on track.) Could FA have won this race given the slow pitstops & HRT – No, the Ferrari is a dog to handle on the harder tyres as shown by the gap increase between last stop & last lap. Ferrari probably cant wait for softer compounds next year.

This link is M Brundles assessment of the race but an interesting point is that Massa had to give FA his front wing, I presume this was why he was so far off the pace. I was also thinking (before reading this) that perhaps Massa is doing long distance runs (in the race) with new parts for 2012 whereas FA is still chasing a 2011 WDC position so getting current upgrades. I do however still agree FM is usually 0.2-0.5 per lap quicker but not 1sec per lap.

Onto McLaren and something which hasnt been picked up by the media often enough (in my opinion) is when Brundle asks Button about his gear selection / downforce when different to LH, JB always gives the same answer, I chose my set up for the race implying that LH set his car more for quali runs. This can explain his speed without KERS available. Perhaps this also explains LH’s extra tyre wear during the year. In Abu Dhabi they (commentators) admitted the tyres were nearer Bridgestones bulletproofness which IMO also played into LH’s hands for a more quali set up.

As for the criticism of MW not being able to overtake JB in the DRS zone his 7th gear was hitting the rev limiter when DRS was open. Poor choice of gears? perhaps given his quali & start performances then yes. Not my driver of the day even though he did the fastest laps consistently he still finished in his starting position.

With the off-throttle exhaust blowing reg change next year are Lotus (the black cars) results since Nick Heidfeld left as a result of them stopping development on 2011 car or NH experience being lost & 2 relatively new drivers at the helm? I think it is a mixture of all of this but will only know next year.

Best of the rest, probably HK in Caterham & DR in the HRT until his retirement.


Button of course! Finishing 3rd with KERS on and off all the way.


I voted for Mark Webber (for the effort he put in) but have to admit it was really Lewis Hamilton’s day – really smooth untroubled drive from the front and Alonso did very well to stick with him all the way. Great pity Vettel wasn’t there with them, then we could have had a memorable race. Sadly this one will just be a statistic.


It has to be Hamilton this time around. He was driving within restraint, looked after his tires well, made no mistakes, yet was able to pull out a 26 sec advantage over his teammate Jenson Button(who supposedly looks after his tires well) .


How can Mark Webber be in the driver of the day list? He should be in the disappointment of the day list. In fact, he should be in the disappointment of the year list.


Close choice between Button and Alonso for me, but in the end Fernando because he pushed the car past where everyone thought it should be, and made no real errors despite driving on the limit for much of the race.

Not a big Ferrari fan, but really hope they can give Alonso a car to compete for the championship next year – after the glitches in the early part of last year, he’s really been impressive. I guess we shouldn’t complain – it’s rare to get two or three top drivers in even vaguely competitive cars at the same time, and arguably we have three in Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton. However, if Mclaren and Ferrari can get a fraction closer to RB next season it should be a fantastic season. They’re coming from further back, but always a chance Mercedes could be up there as well.

Didn’t see enough of those further back to make a call, but there seemed to be some very good drives in the midfield and tail of the field.


I voted Fernando, mainly because that great first lap, it reminded me for a while that glorious first Donnington Senna lap back in 1993.

Lets do not forget that the positions gained by him were normal overtakings during the course of the lap, not as the regular positions gained on a grid start.

I also liked Lewis race, he did everything perfect, and also Jenson’s one, stracted the maximum of a faulty car.

The only way to have a real measure of Sebastien skills is to seat him alongside of someone of the Fernando, Lewis or Jenson calibre. I would really like someone could replace both Mark and Felipe to have a different benchmark to compare their team mates.



Fernando Alonso with another stomper. The driver of the season for me.


Greetings Born,

Apart from my bias for Alonso and Ferrari, I believe he’s been the standout driver of the last 2 seasons.

2010, leaving Silverstone 47 points behind, he declared he could still win the championship.

But for a strategic mistake, Alonso would indeed have been champion, in what was the 2nd or 3rd best car of 2010.


Has to be Button for all the inconvenients he had to deal with. Sometimes, we vote for those who gain a lot of positions as it is a consequence of overtaking. On other occassions it is the one who wins. Rarely we praise those who manage car difficulties and change strategy while the race unfolds. Well, that’s what Button did yesterday. The reward to his magnificent racecraft is to nearly consolidate as 2nd place on the WDC, not to mention beating his illustrous team mate as McLaren’s best.


I just hope Ferrari get their act together next season not necessarily making the fastest car, but at least not half a second per lap. Then it will be real fighting for each race and Alonso will make Vettel, Hamilton to work real hard to earn their money.


Fernando, without question.

In my opinion, no other driver currently in F1 can ‘outdrive’ the car to the level Fernando can.

Slightly off topic, but with Fernando now the clear No.1 at Ferrari, i would of thought it would be a good opportnity for Ferrari to take a punt on a younger second driver, Perez maybe?


I would say Hamilton for driver of the day. Everyone goes on and on and on about him not being able to preserve his tyres and I am sure Alonso was hoping that Hamilton would have driven them over the cliff but he did not. SO NOW CAN WE ALL STOP SAYING HAMILTON CANNOT look after his tyres. If tyre preservation was not such a major factor I am sure Hamilton would have opened up a larger gap. F1 now is about keeping clear of DRS and then covering the following car’s actions, not about driving off into the sunset and seeing if you can lap everyone.



Outperformed his car again. Does it race in and race out, championship in and championship out.


I think Alonso did the same as he ever does. He is always fast and consistent but above all, the Spaniard is the best handling cars difficult to drive. Hamilton, yesterday was better than he used to be. He was able to CONTROL de race like Vettel is doing all season. Not so easy for the Englishman this year. He took care of tyres and fuel consumption, but saying that I think McLarens are easier to drive and 2-3 tenths faster than Ferrari with prime (Softer compound)and 6-8 tenths quicker with option (Harder compound).

Both Alonso and Hamilton did a fantastic job, but my prize is for Fernando thanks to his first amazing lap.


Hiekki deserves a big pat on the back for a very strong season, out performs the car on a regular basis.

There is only one driver of the day, as much as it rankles me, its Alonso. In a racing car he’s a cut above the rest. Yes that does mean all of them and we have an exceptional crop of pilots at the moment.

Button drove a very well to cope with the car.

Webber’s school report will say “should do better”.

Hamilton did the job that any of the top drivers should do.

As for Massa, all he had to do was keep it moving forwards not sideways. His love affair with Ferrari is nearing its end I fear.


Private opinion;

The normal car’s performance – 100 %

Driver’s performance: (one lap)




Driver’s perfoprmance: (racing condition)





OMG. Fernando is, by far, the most competitive driver on a race distance. And he has really improved his Q lately. Those would be my %:

Driver’s performance (one lap):




Driver’s perfoprmance (racing condition):




Cars limit is 100%, more is phisicaly impossible, and 100% is prefection, what is impossible too.

Your supposed Vettel’s race pace was what really impressed me. When did he make you though he was that fast?


By your numbers, Vettel would have put the Ferrari on pole (100s lap, so 0.1% is 0.1s). Not sure I agree.


Mmm, i wasn’t thinking it that way. I mean, that was just an aprox of the level this three drivers have compared to each other, but not a really accurate time measure difference. I don’t believe FA is 0.9 sec/lap faster that SV on race trim.


You need to calibrate your calculator


I have given it to Alonso on the nod, but to be fair it is difficult to really judge what was going on, Button had a Kers problem and it looked like Hamiliton was just managing the gap to Alonso. I think in reality the actual race would have been between Alonso and Button for third and Vettel and Hamilton for first assuming no technical mishaps had happened

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