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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Who was your Driver of the Day?
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Nov 2012   |  12:10 am GMT  |  473 comments

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?

Kimi Raikkonen

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.

Fernando Alonso

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.

Sebastian Vettel

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.

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I wondering if you detect (or have heard of) any second-guessing within McLaren about them signing Perez in light of his recent on-track difficulties?




No they wouldn’t be that short -termist.

He’s 22 they know that. THey think they see something but will he be another Hamilton or a Kovalainen? Only time in a McLaren will tell

I think there’s no doubt that in the current spec F1, they will miss Hamilton’s quali pace.


Hamiltons race pace aint so shabby either.Where was JB on Sunday. Whats the bet if Lewis qualifies ahead of Jenson again his car will break down. If he qualifies behind Jenson he wont break down. Mclaren are almost safe 3rd in the constructors they dont care what happens to Lewis now as long as they dont loose 3rd to Lotus. Its kinda like a coded message “you won all those races because of the team and you will loose because of the team”.




Hi James,

I thought Seb’s conduct on the podium was appalling. The language he used was unecessary and I am surprised that he has not been charged with bringing the sport into disrepute. Then he poured rose water over David Coultard while he was interviewing Kimi. It’s not as if he had just won the world championship! He had just come third, albeit an excellent third.


Kimi DOTD.

Sebastian LDOTD (luckiest driver of the day). Lewis ULDOTY (un-luckiest driver of the year).

Fernando DOTY (driver of the year).


Out of curiosity. I wonder if Vettel got voted DOTD this season if ever? Anyone knows?


Forgive me for stating the obvious….

When Vettel was disqualified, Red Bull opted to start from the pit lane and in doing so were able to modify the car with higher gears etc to make it go faster and overtake the whole field.

So, if I have got this right, he ended up with a faster car than he qualified with. Yes? No?

If yes, why is the car not set up in this faster mode in the first place for qualifying? I guess it is something to do with difference in qualifying trim and race trim?

Are teams allowed to opt to start from the pit lane if they so choose anyway regardless of their qualifying position? If so, then what is to stop say Hamilton or anyone else just doing one single slow lap in Q1 and not make it to Q2 and Q3 and then opt to start from the pitlane after modifying the car to be faster in the same manner as Vettel did and then in the race carve his way through the field with a complete set of brand new option and prime tyres?

Or am I missing something here?


Basically what happened is the penalty for breaking parc ferme (in particular changing engine or gear box) is that you start from pit lane. Note that this is different from having an ‘unscheduled’ gearbox change some time in the weekend before the cars are put in parc ferme – that is a 5 grid spot penalty.

These rules apply regardless of where you qualify. In Vettel’s case they changed the gear box after qualifying because he was being sent to the back of the grid anyway and thus incurred the extra penalty of starting from pit lane. It might not seem like much but this is still a slight extra disadvantage to starting at the back of the grid, though because of the unique pit configuration in Abu Dhabi the pit lane starting procedure was modified so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

Earlier in the year I believe Grosjean did something similar when he qualified 18th and his team chose to switch his gear box. A few more people here have their knickers in a knot about it this time because it was Vettel and he managed to snatch a podium. As far as I know the rules have allowed this for a long time though.

You are right though, the same option is available to everyone, the main reason it’s not very desirable I assume is that you are putting yourself at a much greater risk of a DNF if you have to get through 23 other cars while racing for position rather than qualifying well and starting from the front. That’s why it’s usually only taken where there has been a mechanical failure or the car involved is starting at the back anyway.


Vettel’s car was set up to maximise his top speed with the DRS open, so it would be easier for him to pass during the race. His ultimate lap times in clear air might’ve been lower than with his qualifying setup, but he probably didn’t spend that much time in clear air.


Regardig this season and Grosjean. It is veryhard to explain his actions on the track.

He wrecks every body else and is still allowed to praticipate. When will all tha manufacturers stand up and proclaim enough is enough. Hey kid, go back and learn how to drive a go cart. I know all the excuses,it was dusty and I could not see, he forced me out so I had to hit him and so on.

I know GrossJean must have pictures of somebody and that is why he is allowed on the track.

You blokes in Europe make fun of NASCAR racing in US and I agree with you is very bad. F1 did suspended Grosjean for his actions and what did he do after the suspension, but re-enters the track and is involved in another crash on the very next race next race. How many millions do the F1 owners have to loose in which were caused by his crashes before the sport takes actions.

Send Grossjean packing until he grows up to become a driver


My vote to Vettel & my heart to Kimi 🙂


Meine Wahl geht an Vettel und mein Herz ist mit Kimi 🙂


Kimi, Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton were the drivers of the day. Tough decision to make for this race. Didn’t vote.

But the best moment was Kimi’s reply ‘Yes, yes, yes, yes……………….” the drawl from his voice was very very Kimi, I liked it very much. He ain’t no dumbhead so it was totally justifiable.

Too much information drives a man insane!

Tornillo Amarillo

Kimi for me, because of :

– the great start from 4th to 2nd,

– he controlled the race without having the fastest car,

– he drove alone in his way, according with the radio messages. I was delighted!


I thought all 3 had a great race, but was pleased for Kimi as he deserved a victory this season, and he gets my vote. He also gets a bonus point for his “yes yes yes I know what I’m doing” line. Hilarious!!

I was disappointed to watch Vettel come through and claim 3rd, as the championship really needed him to suffer this weekend. It did however give the race a great narrative, and the action certainly surrounded the Red Bulls, Seb on one side and Webber’s kamikaze session on the other!! Not much to say for Alonso other than another incredible start. I’ve been anti-Alonso since Hamilton’s first season, but I’d like him to win this year. Finger’s crossed Austin throws up a few surprises and the championship can be decided at Interlagos.


One thing that bugs me is the fact that Vettel had the choice of starting from the pitlane which in turn allowed him to completely change his set up from quali. I beleive this is unfair, a penalty should be a penalty. If you are demoted to the back of the grid thats where you should start. The choice to start from the pitlane should not be there. By starting from the pitlane he immediately had a huge advantage than starting from the back of the grid with the quali set up (sort geared, higher downforce).

This is something the FIA should be looking into.


That same choice is available to all teams. Funnily enough despite the “huge advantage” on offer it’s not often taken. That said this is hardly the first time it happened either so I hardly think the FIA is going to be looking into it just because this time it happened to be inconvenient for a few Mclaren/Ferrari fans.


Firstly i’m neither a Mclaren or Ferrari. I know each team has that choice, I’m using Vettel as a fine example as to why this should not be allowed. A penalty should be a penalty to the driver…not a choice to change strategy and setup.


ok you’re not reading me here…my point is ANY driver should not be given the option to start from the pitlane and change set up if given a penalty.If you’re demoted to the back thats where you should start, it’s not that difficult to understand, is it?


Dropping 20 odd grid places isn’t a penalty in your eyes?


Fan that is!


Hey James!

After reading all these comments here, I would like to congralutae you and my fellow fans.

This is a great article and I’m just amazed by the diversity and the knowledge of the fans.

You should be proud with this James.

This website is top notch and I personally think it has became/stayed like that because of 2 things: quality of the articles and your interaction with us, the readers.

Thank you for that!


Raikkonen definitely gets driver of the day. He was flawless throughout the whole race, had a fantastic start to leapfrog Webber and Maldonado, tried to take the opportunity when Hammy locked up, fantastic pace throughout and controlled it well when under immense pressure from Alonso at the end. He was seriously disadvantage by the second safety car, but didn’t let it get to him. His fastest lap of the race up to that point on his first lap after the restart was amazing and critical to his victory. The Lotus is definitely a great car and a big step up from last years, but the Red Bull and McLaren are probably a little better, plus the Ferrari is certainly faster in a straight line. So for Kimi to display this level of speed and consistency over the season in his first year back is brilliant!

Great race also by both Alonso and Vettel. Alonso is dragging that Ferrari up into places it has no rights to be in. Qualifying is the true representation of where they are, but Fernando consistently gets more out of it in the race than it deserves,. That’s why even though I’m not a massive fan personally of either him or Ferrari, I think he deserves to win the championship this year.

For Vettel to come from starting in the pit lane to finishing on the podium is amazing. He was very fortunate with both safety cars and without them would probably have come no higher than 6th or 7th, but he made the most of the opportunities given to him and certainly minimized what could have been a costly day for his lead in the championship. I bet the team are very glad that they started him from the pit lane given what happened further back on the grid at the first corner. If he ended up getting no points, Alonso would now have one on the trophy, but easing to the US in a fortnight he can seal it all up quite easily if Alonso strikes trouble.

Honorable mention has to go out for Hamilton. I was clearly the fastest driver all weekend and without car issues, he would have romped home with victory here easily. As a McLaren and Hamilton fan, it is very painful to see how things have seemed to just fall apart since Italy. Their three mechanical related DNFs have cost them a total of 68 points, two victories and, at Monza, a 1-2. What’s more they lose millions of dollars if they finish 3rd rather than 2nd. They are only 22 points behind Ferrari in the WCC with 86 points available, but they need to sort out their reliability issues pronto! They do probably have the equal fastest car with Red Bull now so there is all to play for, but this year has been a wasted opportunity for McLaren and that is painful to say!


A great win for Kimi, and, rightly, a popular one. But I voted for Vettel. He had a mountain to climb, and he got on the podium. He was a little impatient and distracted on a few occasions, and he was helped by the safety cars, although as someone else pointed out, the last safety car cost him racing laps. But his persistence paid off. I’ll rewatch the race tonight and see if my opinion changes.


It is very difficult to chose between Kimi and Seb. Seb is more than just the driver of the day – he is too good. I want him to wrap up the championship in Austin.

Seb really showed how to overtake in Abu Dhabi even if it cost him pieces of his wing. Just comparing him with one guy who couldn’t make any impression in 2010.

Kimi was brilliant. He knew exactly what he had to do and what he was doing. He is one person who is honest in whatever he says about the car. Just comparing him to some drivers who like to portray as if the car is bad but they are better.

It was good to see how Kimi and Vettel were relaxed and having a good chat after the race before the podium ceremony whereas one guy was sat there with a grumpy face.

I am voting for Kimi.


Foul language in F1


Yesterday we witnessed both KR and SV use swear words during their podium interview with DC, with SV repeating one of them in the official FIA press conference.

Most people in the English speaking world have been taken aback, and some (including James) have been very surprised and say this is out of character for Vettel. I would argue that Vettel has no idea about the discomfort he has caused for English native speakers, and unless someone tells him he is likely to re-offend in future.

Here is my little theory why Vettel is particularly unlucky with regards to using swear words in public. I would group the drivers of the current top 5 teams with regards to their proficiency in English in the following groups:

(a) native speakers: LH, JB, MW

(b) fluent, but not native: SV, NR

(c) good English: MS, KR, FM

(d) basic, “F1” English: FA, RG

Now of the four above groups, only those in group (b) are ever likely to use swear words in TV interviews. The thing is that when they talk with their English speaking team members and friends, it will be a sign of their fluency, and of their ability to banter, to use the occasional swear word. Just like their English speaking mates would do (in private!). However, while the drivers in group (a) know full well that you should never ever use swear words in public, it is difficult for foreigners to learn about this taboo.

So maybe James should have a quiet word with Vettel and enlighten him! But then again, it is not easy for Brits to talk openly about this sensitive subject, is it? 😉

PS: My own mother tongue is not English, but I have been living in the UK for 12 years now.


I’ve just read that Vettel apologised for using foul language on the podium. So someone must have told him about the discomfort he has caused for English native speakers. Maybe it was Jenson? Or his manager? (Who btw seems to be a very nice lady, has a chance to talk to her for a while).


Thanks for reporting this back on the thread. I could not find anything on Vettel’s apology, but the BBC have a story relating to this:

So the FIA has written an official letter to teams warning their drivers not to swear in media interviews etc.

What I find interesting is that the letter makes reference to other sports (boxing, rugby, football), where swearing in media interviews is not an issue. I would argue that Formula 1 drivers are unique in that they operate in an English speaking environment often without actually living in the UK, say. So many become fluent in the language, without picking up the social norms associated with swearing etc.


it was a short one on RBR site:

I agree that although most of them are fluent in English, they are probably not always aware of some social and cultural norms. Plus it happened in an Arabic country…

I like them both, but it was sad to watch and I uderstand that DC felt uneasy

Harrison Vrbanjac

The most people who speaks English are ”foreigners”.


That’s because of our Colonial past,what,what?

Harrison Vrbanjac

The point was, that most people may not be offended as suggested.


Alonso’s English is much better than that, not quite as good as Rosberg and Vettel but still able to express himself very clearly

His Italian is also very good


Point taken, thanks. In fact, I wasn’t quite sure where to put him.

I am not surprised that his Italian is very good. Given how close it is to Spanish, I would have thought that he must be fluent by now.


Yes, yes, yes, yes. I know who to vote for. You don’t need to remind me every second…




To add… I now accept Vettle IS right up there, with the Hamilton and the Alonso, seriously it can no longer be denied.

Everyone thought …great, this weekend is gonna be great and the WDC would be reignited but the man blew all that out the water.

After the race Alonso looked like he was going to vomit…..I should’nt laugh but honestly ….lol


I don’t know, I was adamant here after the previous race that anything could still happen and this week just reinforced it. With gap remaining approximately the same between Alonso and Seb the pressure on them and their teams just goes up a notch for the next race.


Vettle was the driver of the day for me, I’m amazed at the amount of time he made up. Yes he was lucky but he was there to take advantage of that luck.

The SC helped alot, but still to finsh as close to the leaders as he did, that was impressive, very impressive.

Bad luck to Hamilton – but while Button finished 4th it was a distant 4th he needs to sort is form out – his consistancy is just not there.

Webber ….wow, that no.2 driver title is not sitting well on his shoulders, the choice to stay at RBR me thinks was a bad one – he should of got his people to talk to Saubers people.


Guys come on, The DOTD title has been awarded to Kimi as he has already got nearly 50% of the vote.

James, wondering, whether you are planning to put a “Luckiest driver of the year” contest after the season? or “Biggest(feared) car crasher of the year” or “Lame Driver/team of the season” or “Most funniest moments of the year” contest?


It is incredible, when Hamilton had the same penalty at spain, he finished 8th and was rated as the second DoD, Vettel went from pit lane to the podium and he not deserved it, what in the heck has he gone to do?


Vettel was driver of the day, but I was thrilled for Kimi, an awesome drive too. His radio chat was one of the year’s highlights.


Driver of the day goes to Kimi for me. He made possibly the quickest start, and from then on managed a tricky race perfectly. I actually do not believe Alonso would have caught him if the race had been a few laps longer as although he got very close, on the very last two laps he seemed to start falling back just a little again.

If it was driver of the weekend then Hamilton would be in with a good shot, he really was in a class of his own in most sessions.



It looked to me as though Alonso’s tires were going off on the last lap – so he was probably as likely to be overtaken by Vettel as he was to get past Kimi


First, I voted Vettel for DOTD. The other two candidates did their work at the start or by the end of the first lap. The rest of the day was spent holding position. Vettel did the work – at the back of the grid twice, so he gets the prize. As such, he gets DOTD fullstop. However, the debate on whether he knows how to pass a RACER the calibre of Alonso or Hamilton is still unanswered. Why, take a look at who he actually passed/how he got to 3rd.

2 passes – Toro Rosso – Vergne, Riccardo

2 passes HRT – Karthikeyan, de la Rosa

4 passes – Marussia – Pic (2), Glock (2)

4 passes – Caterham – Petrov (2), Kovalainen (2)

3 passes – Williams – Senna (3)

1 pass – Mercedes – Schumacher

1 pass – Force India – Di Resta

2 passes – Lotus – Grosjean (1 off track)

1 pass McLaren – Button (8 laps to pass)

Who he passed in while they were in the pits (wasn’t by strategy but a consequence of having to pit due to his wing issue – so no star for Red Bull strategists)






Who crashed, DNF’d or outright f’d up (taking my inspiriation from Seb’s podium speech) or spun thereby inheriting a position:

Hulkenberg – crash

Rosberg – crash

Hamilton – DNF

Who he didn’t get by:



Easy (joke to pass given his car) – gimme passes:

10 of the Tier 3 teams (HRT, Marussia, Caterham)

2 gifts from Toro Rosso

Slightly more difficult – Tier 2 cars (i.e. nothing breathtaking or really challenging given his machinery)

3 passes on Senna


di Resta

The only meaningful passes were on Grosjean and Button, let’s look at those:

Grosjean – already under fire so when push came to shove, guess who was going to give up his position. Despite that, the first attempt was a complete wtf is he doing as he could only pass off track so he gave back the position, and took the spot again without too much difficulty – i.e. Seb gets a knock for the first attempt and a should have done it that way the first time on the second pass

Button – he earned that pass period. Say what you want about Button, but he defended the pass like a true pro. Had Seb been in Button’s position, I suspect we would have seen a tangle/bump caused by Seb ala Turkey on Webber.

Question, given the same machinery, would Alonso/Hamilton have taken 8 laps to get the job done? IMHO, no, nuff said.

If there was no safety car I think he may have had the opportunity to answer the critics, but that didn’t happen – too bad, I was really hoping to see that.

That RB in that trim was in another league, call it F1*, compared to all others on this day.

As someone else said he was 67.6s ahead of where he started comparatively speaking (differnce in de la Rosa’s time +71.7s to his time +4.1s)in the race which INCLUDED passing all those mentioned above – that car is at a whole other level – that is the only REAL conculsion one can truly make out of Abu Dhabi – Webber was driving a different set up altogether.

Is Seb DOTD, absolutely, if one only looks at the DRIVE – which I did. However, if we include the entertainment package, then Kimi’s drive combined with his radio tranmissions wins DOTD by a LANDSLIDE!!!

Has he proven himself to be on the same level that people feel Alonso/Hamilton and perhaps Kimi to be – nope.

BTW – I am 100% impartial – I do feel Alonso deserves the title, but don’t see that happening – I just like good racing!

One thing that I would like to explore is the level of performance RB is giving up given Seb’s last drive to qualify on the first row – i.e. where would Seb’s car have qualified if they set it up the way it was on Sunday for qualifying….hmmmm…JA?


Exactly right. He is good. No, he is great. But not that great as this made him look.


good post, I was waiting for tomorrow’s report ang graphs to see who Seb actually passed on track

backmarkers and toro teammates aside, now we konw he is way better than Senna, he is about level with Grosjean, and given enough laps he will get past Button

this pretty much sums up why public dont vote for him (I did this time), for a great achievement ( he actually came from 21st to 4th in only 20+- laps between safety cars) but would have been more fun to see him fight the though DiResta train and pass them rather than jump them when pitting


For hilarity, contrast all the comments about how Vettel only came through the field thanks to safety cars and/or only made it hard for himself through his own mistakes with the comments when Jenson got DotD at Canada 2011:


Indeed. And look at the DOTD poll for Spa this year when Button won the poll and was lauded for his “dominant” drive, rather than being derided for merely winning a boring race by driving away from pole in a dominant car as Vettel generally is when he wins.

Basically, these DOTD polls are to be avoided if anything approaching an objective view is desired. Lots of people seem to have decided that they dislike Vettel, hence the way these polls go. Strange. Is it his nationality? What is it?

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