Hamilton all the way in Abu Dhabi
After world champion Sebastian Vettel retired on the first lap due to damage from a rear tire puncture, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso was 8.4 seconds behind for Ferrari, with Jenson Button completing the podium for McLaren.
Vettel took the lead from pole at the first corner, but just one corner later his Red Bull was forced into a wild spin as its right rear tire deflated. The champion tried to nurse his car back to the pits, but the flapping rubber had already done too much damage.
That put Hamilton into the lead, with Alonso in second having passed Mark Webber (Red Bull) at the start and then gone around the outside of Button at the end of the back straight to secure second.
From there Hamilton controlled the gap to Alonso, even during pit stops.
The loss of KERS scuppered any chances Jenson Button had of winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday. After the early demise of Sebastian Vettel, the 2009 Champion ran second to team-mate Lewis Hamilton but immediately lost the place to Fernando Alonso. Later, he was forced to defend from both Mark Webber and Felipe Massa.
“By Lap 13 or 14 I didn't have any KERS, which wasn't great,” a somewhat philosophical Button said after the race. “For the next stint, they said what I could do to get KERS it back and I did get it back, but it only lasted two laps.”
He also explained that he was constantly resetting the power-boosting system.
“You get a certain amount of engine braking from KERS, when it's working, but every time I arrived at a corner I just didn't know what to expect!” he continued. “I also had to fend off Webber and Massa, which was quite interesting without KERS…so I am relatively happy to make it home in third.”
Button is now on the verge of finishing 2011 runner-up to World Champion Vettel, as he carries a 10-point lead over Alonso to the final round in Brazil.
Alonso was happy with second on this day. "It was a fantastic race for me with a very good start a then a good first lap fight for Jenson and obviously with the problem with Sebastian we found ourselves in second," Alonso said. "Then we fought all the way through the race, more or less with a distance of three to five seconds with Lewis.
"And then in the last pit stop we stayed out two laps longer than the McLaren and we were close I think, but we had some traffic in the pit entry behind one HRT and I think we lost a little bit of ground. But anyway, I think in the last stint they had a bit more pace so even if we were able to overtake in the stops it was difficult to win the race. So extremely happy with second and we enjoyed this weekend."
Alonso admitted that even being competitive enough to hold on to second place was a surprise for him.
Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher had a spectacular early battle, won by the younger German, who went on to take sixth. Schumacher narrowly beat Force India's Adrian Sutil to seventh. Sutil's team-mate Paul di Resta and Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi completed the points scorers.
The win is Hamilton's third of the season and 17th of his career, and McLaren's sixth this year. It is the first race in 20 races that Red Bull did not score a podium finish.
Mark Webber (4th):
Sebastian Vettel (DNF, Puncture):
Christian Horner, Sporting Director:
Cyril Dumont, Renault:
Lewis Hamilton (1st):
Jenson Button (3rd):
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal:
Fernando Alonso (2nd):
Felipe Massa (5th):
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal:
Nico Rosberg (6th): "It was an interesting race for me today. The start didn't work out very well as I tried to overtake Felipe but suddenly there was no space left. Michael was able to overtake me, and we had a fun battle before I took the place back. From then, I was able to handle my tire situation very well. I stayed out a bit longer before the second stop as there was some grip left, and it was better to stay out with the softer tires. With the prime tires, I had some understeer which made it impossible to overtake Felipe towards the end. Thanks to my engineering team who did a brilliant job here and I was quite happy with my car all weekend. Our pit stop guys were also great again, and that's why we achieved a good result today. It makes me look forward to Brazil and hopefully we can achieve another good result there."
Michael Schumacher (7th): "A reasonable race today and some reasonable points I would say. Considering that we did not manage to find the perfect balance yesterday, we managed to get the maximum out of our situation today. But then, I did lose some small parts of the car which cost us some balance, and towards the end I had a slow puncture, which is why I had to park my car at turn two. The tires gave up rather early in the first stint but that was due to our tire strategy yesterday when we wanted to save a fresh set for the race. I therefore had quite used tires for the start. We now have to look into the data and make sure we are well prepared for the last race of the season which we want to finish as well as possible."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "A very lively first lap between our drivers today which was highly entertaining. We've often said that they are free to race as long as they keep it sensible, and it was good to see today. Nico had the stronger pace this evening, and his lap times during the race were quite encouraging. Our performance today reminds us of the little bit that we have to close down to become truly competitive, but it is within reach. Both Nico and Michael drove extremely well, and with good pit stops and a sound strategy, we achieved possibly the best results that we can at the moment."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "Sixth and seventh places for Nico and Michael are the best possible results with our current technical package, and our team has now finished in the top six rankings for the fifth time in the last seven races. These positions are certainly not our ultimate target but during the building-up time of our team, it is nevertheless positive to get the best possible results. A big thank you to the organizers of the spectacular race here in Abu Dhabi which creates a great atmosphere and fantastic television images. In this 'home' race for our team, we have achieved the results that we are currently capable of, and we want to come back next year with a quicker car and a better performance for our partner and co-owner Aabar. Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton and McLaren Mercedes for their victory today, which is the 71st Grand Prix win for McLaren Mercedes since 1997. Compliments also to everybody at Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines for having six Mercedes-powered cars between P1 and P9 today."
Vitaly Petrov (13th): "It was quite a frustrating afternoon because my DRS was not working. We thought we could have a good fight with the cars in front, but we were pretty helpless, so we decided to change the strategy. When I first stopped, we put fresh medium tires on but unfortunately these did not last long enough so we returned to the pits on lap 38 to change to the soft. Unfortunately that ended up being too slow. The pace was not good enough to score points and that's the reality."
Bruno Senna (16th): "Let's be honest here - there's not a crumb of comfort to take from that performance. We suffered from a KERS failure, drive through penalty and a car which was not on the money at this particular track. Put those together and you see why I finished where I did. There was lots of lost time to make up and, strategically, we took a gamble that didn't pay off. I certainly think that overall this weekend my pace was as good as it could have been. Maybe for Brazil we will have a better baseline, and let's hope we have a better race weekend."
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "That was not what we were looking for today. We knew that this weekend would not be our finest of the season; the trend of slower tracks not clicking with the R31 has repeated itself over the past three days. We had differing strategies today, but neither one was fruitful. Also, our reliability problems did not help. The boys have put in a big effort this week to try and give us something to smile about at this fantastic venue. Unfortunately it was not to be and it will be all eyes to Brazil to try and finish the season on a high."
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "A disappointing day for us with neither car scoring any points. We had a few problems with Vitaly's car early on with the DRS failing, so we knew we wouldn't be able to overtake anyone. This led us to try a one stop race but the hard tire didn't last long enough so we had to stop for the soft. Bruno had a problem with his KERS which really cost him, and put him back around half a second each lap. There's no real positives to take from today."
Riccardo Penteado, Engine Support Leader: "We introduced new engine units for both Bruno and Vitaly this weekend, which is a positive at this point in the year. Even though Abu Dhabi is a relatively undemanding track for the engine, with a low open throttle time, we had hoped this would give us an advantage in the very competitive midfield. We just missed out on the top ten in qualifying and on this track, where overtaking can be quite hard, it was then difficult to make up places. We hope that the low mileage on these two units will help in Brazil, where an extra few horsepower could make a difference with the lower power output caused by high altitude."
Rubens Barrichello (12th):
Pastor Maldonado (14th):
Sam Michael, Technical Director:
Patrick Head, Director of Engineering:
Adrian Sutil (8th): "Today's result is great for the team and just what we needed. Initially we were planning to do a one-stop race, but the team took the decision to switch to a two-stop strategy because the soft tire did not last as long as we thought it would. So it was a good call by the team to make the change. I spent a lot of the race fighting with Schumacher and managed to get ahead of him for the middle stint. But I probably went one lap too long in the middle stint and he got ahead of me when we were both on the medium tire at the end of the race. I was close behind him, but we had similar pace and I couldn't get back ahead. Still, we came here to pick up points with both cars, and that's what we've done. It puts us in a very strong position for the final race."
Paul di Resta (9th): "I think as a team we can be pleased to have come away with a double points finish having run different strategies with both cars. With hindsight my one-stop race was not the optimum strategy, but we felt it was worth a try. As it turned out the performance of the medium was not great to begin with so the first 30 laps were quite hard work. I had a good fight with Buemi in the early laps and I think we were quite lucky that he retired, which made my race a bit easier. When I switched to the softs the speed of the car was very strong. To do a one-stop race and come away with two points is as much as we could really hope for. It's what we need for our fight in the championship and hopefully we can arrive in Brazil and carry on where we left off."
Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal: "We came here determined to deliver a strong result and we've come away with six important points to consolidate our sixth place in the constructors' championship. Both drivers drove faultless races, splitting the strategies and covering all the options. So I'm very pleased with our performance as a team, which puts us in a much stronger position with 15 points advantage over our nearest competitor. I feel confident that we can go to Brazil to finish the job and confirm our sixth place in the championship."
Kamui Kobayashi (10th): "I am happy to having scored a point today, I have had a pretty long period without scoring and for me it was important to put an end to this. I had a really good start and was able to make up five positions on lap one. Actually the performance of the tires during and after the start was better than expected. I started on the medium compound as I was only 16th on the grid, and this is obviously a situation in which you have to take chances. But we knew it would be a difficult first stint, and it was not really clear how long those tires would last. They dropped off after a few laps and then I lost three positions before I pitted after lap five for soft tires. I think overall it was a good race by us."
Sergio Perez (11th): "I had higher hopes for the race today. It is a shame what happened on lap one. There was a queue into turn seven and I couldn't avoid hitting Adrian Sutil's car. It wasn't immediately clear how big the damage was, but then the team told me my front wing was broken and I had to pit after lap two. We then decided to go for the medium compound when we did the nose change. On my third stint, again on soft tires, I was driving in tenth for a while, but then I struggled with the tires and also for the last 12 laps my KERS wasn't working."
Peter Sauber, Team Principal: "Both drivers showed a lot of fighting spirit and set very good lap times for most of the race. It was good to score a point today, but we didn't achieve the maximum we could. Sergio's race was hampered by his early pit stop to replace the front wing, and for Kamui the team didn't handle his second stop perfectly. However, our race pace was encouraging today."
Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Head of Track Engineering: "The early part of the race wasn't easy for us because Sergio made contact with a Force India and had to pit after two laps because the pylon at the front wing was broken. As a result of the early stop we had to change the strategy. Our plan was to do two stints on soft tires and the final one on medium, but under the circumstances we fitted the medium at the first pit stop. This worked okay. Sergio was able to get back in the points, but he then suffered a KERS problem and let Kamui by. With Kamui we were a bit too optimistic at the beginning of the race. He was on the medium compound. Once we realized that he was struggling to find grip we decided on an earlier stop than we had planned. This was good tire-wise, but put him in a lot of traffic. However, he drove a good race, overtaking aggressively, and he finally scored a well deserved point, which is good for the morale of the whole team."
Jaime Alguersuari (15th): "I am very disappointed with the outcome of this weekend, because we had opted for a strategy in terms of aerodynamics that appeared to be the best in terms of ease of overtaking in the race. However, after the first four or five laps, I seemed to pick up some tire degradation and I was losing the rear end. Then came the key moment in my race, when there was a mistake in the pit stop, which cost me a lot of time and dropped me down the order, from which I could not recover. Today, P10 was possible, because I had a good pace on the new Options, even if I am not sure that we could have caught the Force Indias. I am sure Brazil will suit us better, so I am looking forward to that and the chance for all of us to do a better job."
Sebastien Buemi (DNF, Hydraulics): "I had to retire because of a loss of fluid from the hydraulic system, which I first felt through the lack of power steering, as this is what makes the most demand on the hydraulics. After that, I could not change gear so there was nothing to do but bring the car into the pits and retire. It is such a shame, because I was having a good race up to that point. Just before it happened, I had passed Di Resta in the Force India and was hoping to start fighting Schumacher and Sutil, which means that a finish somewhere between seventh and ninth should have been possible tonight. Now we have just one more opportunity to try and score some more points, so I can't wait to get to Brazil to try and end the season with a good result."
Franz Tost, Team Principal: "This was a night of missed opportunities. As we had expected, we were not as competitive in qualifying here as we had been in India, but felt we would show better in the race. In the early stages, this proved to be the case, with Sebastien running as high as seventh at one point. However, he had to bring the car into the pits and retire with an hydraulic failure caused by a leak from the system. Jaime was running a couple of places behind his team-mate, but there was a mistake at his first pit stop, which cost him a lot of time and therefore he dropped down the order. From then on, he drove well, putting in some competitive lap times, but the points positions were no longer within his sights. With Sauber scoring one point today, our battle with them for seventh in the championship must now go down to the wire in Brazil at a track that should suit our car characteristics better than this one."
Heikki Kovalainen (17th): "Another pretty good start and from there the whole race was straightforward. I didn't have any issues for the whole race, the pitstops were good and the strategy worked out exactly was we'd planned, so across the whole weekend this has been another strong event for us. What seems to be happening is that in the first couple of stints, as the race sort of settles down, we are able to keep up with the cars ahead, and that's obviously a sign of how we have progressed, and that's again what happened here. When we went onto the primes for the last stint the pace obviously dropped a bit but we had another strong push to the end, with Senna losing time on his final set of tires, and that points to us being able to fight much more closely next year. For now we have one race left, so we'll shift the focus now to Brazil and make sure we finish the season as strongly as we have been doing since Singapore."
Jarno Trulli (18th): "I lost a few places at the start with clutch slip, but within a few laps I had got passed the cars we needed to fight and then focused on making sure I got the car to the end of the race. The second stint was pretty strong, but then on the last stint on the hard tires I was struggling to get them up to temperature so I couldn't really push any more. This has been a bit of a tough weekend. I came here with a bit of a fever and then losing time in FP3 obviously set me back as well, but now I want to make sure I have as good a race as possible in Brazil and help the team secure tenth place."
Riad Asmat, Chief Executive Officer: "We leave Abu Dhabi feeling pretty good about the way the weekend went for the whole team, particularly seeing Heikki having another storming race and mixing it in the midfield for a good part of the afternoon. We keep edging closer to tenth place, and while that is not a step forward for us in championship terms, compared to last year, it is vital for our long-term growth, and when we can carry over the step-up we have made this year in the pitstops, in the factory and in our race pace, we are putting ourselves in the right place for next season and beyond. One more race to go and we will make sure we keep up this level or performance in Brazil before the race team takes a well-earned break."
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director: "A solid race for us and good to see both cars across the finish line with no problems all afternoon. We opted for the same strategy on both cars, running the first two stints on the soft tires and switching to the mediums at the end and it worked out how we had planned it would. Jarno lost some time at the start but he pulled some of that back with a strong middle stint but was then hit by the number of blue flags that he had to slow down for. At the end of the race Heikki was once again chasing down the Renault but just was not able to get past him with the laps he had left. Now we move on to the last race of the season in Brazil where we will be focusing on the season's number on goal - securing tenth place and giving ourselves the platform we need to keep building for the future."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "I think we managed to get as much as we could hope for today. We have been focusing on giving the drivers the right mix of top-end speed, rear-end stability and good responsiveness in the low to mid-speed corners, and I think Heikki's early pace showed that we keep going in the right direction."
Vitantonio Liuzzi (20th): "The car was suffering from the same balance problems as yesterday. The team worked on the issue all night to try and fix it but, unfortunately, the car wasn't perfectly balanced today. There was understeer on left turns and oversteer on right turns which meant that it was hard to achieve a good race pace. We got off to a good start and made up a few positions but it was a difficult challenge. Still, I pushed until the very end and got the car past the checkered flag which is a positive thing. It was a difficult race but we got a decent result."
Daniel Ricciardo (DNF, Alternator): "I had a pretty good take off at the start, passing Glock and getting right behind Trulli, and then I stayed on the inside for turn 1, which was probably a mistake as Glock overtook me on the outside. There were a few moves that I should have maybe committed to a bit stronger. The pace was good but I lost a few places at the start and had to play catch up. I closed the gap with Tonio but then I couldn't get past him. For the second stint I was able to keep up with Glock. I was then caught in traffic and, three laps from the end, my car stopped. It was a shame to end the race prematurely but, overall, the pace was good and I was setting some good times so that's something to take into the next race."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal: "Clearly, this is not the result we were hoping for at all after the performance level we've had over the past races but the drivers did everything they could. We had a good pace. Tonio went for a one stop strategy, which proved not to be the best one in the end. Daniel, instead, was going for two stops and carried a really consistent pace racing Glock throughout the race. Unfortunately, he couldn't finish the race three laps from the end because of an electrical problem. It is a real shame because he was doing a fantastic race. Now we have to look ahead to Brazil and expect not to have any of these problems again."
Timo Glock (19th):
Jerome d'Ambrosio (DNF):
John Booth, Team Principal:
Fastest lap: Webber, 1:42.612
Feedback can be sent to email@example.com
Go to our forums to discuss this article