Vettel leads Red Bull 1-2 at Abu Dhabi
Sebastian Vettel dominated the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix just like Lewis Hamilton did in qualifying. Hamilton's brake problems allowed Red Bull to make it a one-two finish. Jenson Button is third after coming incredibly close to second place in the last few laps.
As the sun is slowly fading, the lights are on and the drivers are ready to take off for the inaugural Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi.
As the red starting lights go out, Hamilton is the quickest off the line and due to the rather short distance to the first corner, the positions didn't change much in the first lap. Sebastian Vettel could challenge Hamilton until the latter used his KERS button on the straight.
Rubens Barrichello was unlucky to have lost his right front wing end plate into the first corner and consequently lost a place to Button one lap later. Despite the early slump, Barrichello does appear to be able to pick up his pace and settle safely in fifth position.
6 laps into the race, Sebastian Vettel is still only 1.5s behind Hamilton, mostly thanks to the third sector where the German is consistently quicker than the McLaren driver. In fact with the pressure building, Hamilton is doing all he can to build a gap but as a result minor mistakes sneak in. On lap 13, he is only 0.8s ahead of the quickest of the Red Bulls. Mark Webber isn't far either, 3 seconds behind the leader.
Just ahead of the first pitstops for the two stoppers, Button is 3 seconds behind Webber and followed by Barrichello who is a further 3 seconds down. Kubica is behind the Brazilian and the two are the first to make their stops just one lap later.
Hamilton makes his stop on lap 18. He stays on the harder tyre in a stop of 8.6 seconds and rejoins the track in clear air.
Button then also made his stop and on his outlap had a few hot moments with Kobayashi with is on a single stop strategy. The Japanese Toyota driver really showed his strengths and got past the new world champion.
When the three leading men completed their stops, Vettel emerged in the lead, 2 seconds ahead of Hamilton and another two to Mark Webber.
Hamilton's race however is over on lap 20 after the team pull him in with a right rear brake problem. When stepping out of the car, McLaren principal Whitmarsh explains that they just cannot afford the brake to eventually fail and see Hamilton go off the track at high speed. They put up a nice performance this weekend, but both Red Bulls now look on their way to take a one-two finish.
On lap 26, Vettel is in the lead, 9 seconds ahead of Webber. Kobayashi has moved up to third after profiting from others' stops. The Brawns are 4th and 5th, followed by Räikkönen and Kovalainen, both also on a single stopper.
As of lap 29, the one stopper guys are also making their stops, starting with Räikkönen. One lap later it's Kobayashi and then Kovalainen.
Fernando Alonso is then suddenly also in the spotlights are he is able to get past Kobayashi just before he mikes his only stop. Even on his last race for Renault, motivation appears intact but a points scoring finish will be impossible for either of the Renaults.
The first of the Toyota's is now Jarno Trulli, although he will still have to stop. Trulli is driving a completely anonymous race but is doing reasonably well on what might also be his last race with his current team.
13 laps from the end, Kubica gets a little too optimistic trying to overtake Buemi and spins. He is held up just long enough for Rosberg to pass him too. It was worth the try for Kubica as he could have finished in the points if his overtaking manouvre worked.
With only 6 laps to go, Jenson Button is closing in quickly on Mark Webber. Both are on the softer option tyre and button is more than half a second quicker per lap. It appears like Webber's Red Bull has trouble under braking, either with brake wear or the car not suiting the softer tyres.
Webber's car looks to handle reasonable but Button is quite simply a lot faster than the Red Bull in these closing stages. In the penultimate lap, Button is consistently taking a look at each possible overtaking place. Both are still very close behind each other. Halfway through that lap, both are side by several corners after each other and it really is a tremendous defence for Webber to maintain his second place.