Vettel Heads Red Bull 1-2 in Abu Dhabi

November 1, 2009

Sebastian Vettel won the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this afternoon, securing second in the drivers’ championship, while polesitter Lewis Hamilton retired shortly after his first pitstop with mechanical failure.

Jenson Button finished his first race as 2009 world champion in third, narrowly missing out on passing Mark Webber for second, after closing in on the Australian in the last few laps of the race. Button had been wheel-to-wheel with Webber in turn 11 on the final lap, very nearly making it stick in the last sector to pass the Red Bull driver, but Webber was able to hold off Button for a final one-two of the season for the team.

Hamilton had the biggest disappointment in F1’s first twilight race, retiring on lap 21 with right rear brake problems. Hamilton said over the team radio that the problem had started early on in the race, explaining why he was unable to pull away from Vettel in the first stint. Vettel had been able to leapfrog Hamilton after the first round of pitstops, but it was shortly after that, that Hamilton retired.

Hamilton’s teammate Heikki Kovalainen, who started 18th after a penalty for changing his gearbox, made his way up to finish 11th on a one-stop strategy, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in 12th.

Rubens Barrichello, who went into the race fighting for second in the championship with Vettel, finished fourth after Button passed him on the opening lap. Nick Heidfeld, who started the race from eighth, finished fifth, scoring BMW’s last four points in F1. Kamui Kobayashi, who has been standing in for Timo Glock at Toyota, after his accident in Japan, finished sixth, scoring three points, in just his second race.

Jarno Trulli finished behind his rookie teammate in seventh, while Sebastien Buemi scored the final point of the season for Toro Rosso in eighth. Buemi’s teammate Jaime Alguersuari was the only other retiree of the race along with Hamilton. The Spanish driver drove into the Red Bull pitbox at his first stop instead of the Toro Rosso one, at the same time as Vettel was coming in for his first stop. Alguersuari had to continue back out onto the track, and he eventually came to a stop. While it looked like he had run out of fuel on his outlap after his pitlane error, he then said it was a gearbox problem.

Despite failing to finish the race, Hamilton maintains fifth in the drivers’ championship with a point over Raikkonen, who failed to finish his last race for Ferrari in the points. McLaren have secured third in the constructors’ championship with a point over Ferrari.

While Hamilton and McLaren looked set to dominate going into today’s race, as the sun set on the 2009 season, it was Vettel and Red Bull who came out on top. With Button and Brawn having already secured the championship, for Vettel, it was all about ending a brilliant season on a high, securing his second place in the drivers’ championship, and with a hat-trick of wins at the end of the season, Red Bull have proved they are worthy runners-up in the constructors’ championship.


Formula One will return with the Bahrain Grand Prix on the 12th, 13th and 14th March 2010, however, between now and then, there is a lot to be decided, including whether there will be a British Grand Prix, and who will be driving where when the lights go out for the start of the 2010 season.


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