Hamilton wins at Abu Dhabi, Vettel out
Lewis Hamilton has finally won again, although it only happened with a little help from Red Bull. After Sebastian Vettel went out of the race, there was nothing that could stop Lewis. Alonso kept close but was no challenge, while Jenson Button finished in 3rd place.
Track temperature at the start of this race is 26°C, with air temperature at 30°C. Both these values are likely to drop during the race as the night falls, creating different handling for the cars as the race is underway.
When the red starting lights go out, Vettel makes a perfect start and easily keeps the lead from pole position. Lewis Hamilton stays second, Button third while Alonso moves up into 4th, passing Webber before turn 1. Michael Schumacher also moved up a spot as he passed his teammate for 7th place.
3 turns into the race, Vettel is already off the track with a right rear puncture. As he didn't touch any other car, something must have been on the kerbs of turn 1 to cause a puncture to early on. As he returned to the pits, the team immediately signalled there was too much damage to the floor caused by the delaminated tyre.
This marks the first retirement and non-points finish since Korea last year where his Renault engine blew up.
Meanwhile, Alonso passed Button on the back straight, moving up to second, behind Hamilton who had now gotten into the lead.
By lap 8, Hamilton is 2.7s ahead of Alonso. Both men are exchanging fastest laps. Button is third and far enough ahead of Webber to not allow him to use his DRS. Massa is 2 seconds behinds the only Red Bull left in the race. Nico Rosberg has passed his teammate again and is 15s behind the leader, while Schumacher dropped a few seconds and is shadowed by Adrian Sutil.
The Williams drivers meanwhile are moving up through the field. By lap 13 Barrichello is 14th and Maldonado is up in 15th place, a major boost for the team after starting from 23rd and 24th positions.
On lap 15 Buemi gets past Di Resta and moves up into P9 thanks to using DRS on the long straight. Di Resta got back to him on the next DRS straight but overcooked it a bit in the braking zone, allowing the Toro Rosso to keep P9.
Button meanwhile is getting a hard time from Mark Webber after suffering a KERS failure on his McLaren. With a deficit of 3 tenths a lap, it's easy to see how Mark is getting closer.
On lap 16 Massa is the first of the front runners to make a stop. One lap later Hamilton, Alonso and Button also take another set of options. Mark Webber stops a lap further down the race and has a 9.5s stop. This puts him several seconds behind Massa when rejoining the track.
Ferrari's stop for Alonso was also slower than Hamilton's, increasing the gap to 3.6s between them. Button, in 3rd, is 13s behind Alonso and 1.7s ahead of Massa. Webber meanwhile is reducing the gap to Massa and is 3.9s behind on lap 22.
By lap 28, Button Massa and Webber have come together, all three driving within a 2 second gap.
At the same time Maldonado is handed a drive through penalty for ignoring blue flags. He was running in 14th place.
Two laps later Button's KERS kicked back in action and he immediately moved out of the DRS window of Massa. As Massa then went a bit wide through turn 7, Webber got past him on the straight, only to get re-passed on the second DRS straight.
On lap 36 Mark Webber is in the pits again, taking on another set of option tyres. This also means he will have to stop yet another time to take on the mandatory medium tyre. Button stops a lap later and takes medium tyres.
That same time Senna is handed a drive through for ignoring blue flags. Maldonado in the meantime also got himself into trouble again by hindering Mark Webber.
By lap 40 Alonso is starting to benefit from the better Ferrari tyre management. The Spaniard has eaten away half of his deficit to Hamilton and is now again just under 3 seconds behind Hamilton. One lap later McLaren call Hamilton in to change to the medium tyre.
Ferrari react to that stop, but they call Massa in first. Alonso stays on the options for 2 more laps, and when getting in he got traffic from an HRT that entered the pitlane at the exact same moment. On top of that, Hamilton put in a fast lap and Ferrari needed 5.2s to change Alonso's tyres. All this together easily kept Hamilton in the lead.
On lap 49 Rosberg finally makes his switch to medium tyres as well. Nico was running in 4th place since the front runners made their last stops.
Massa meanwhile spun off the track as he was pushing hard to cover Mark Webber. The Australian still has to pit, but he is running considerably faster than Massa. The spin, albeit without damage, keeps Webber ahead of Massa after his last lap tyre switch. Until that time, Mark was putting in a long series of fastest laps, clearly enjoying the tyre difference with the other front runners.
3 laps from the end, Ricciardo stopped alongside the track with technical difficulties, but that of course could not soften the joy for Hamilton, who later won the Abu Dhabi GP.
|2||5||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||55||+8.4 secs||5||18|
|3||4||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||55||+25.8 secs||3||15|
|4||2||Mark Webber||RBR-Renault||55||+35.7 secs||4||12|
|5||6||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||55||+50.5 secs||6||10|
|6||8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG||55||+52.3 secs||7||8|
|7||7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes AMG||55||+75.9 secs||8||6|
|8||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||55||+77.1 secs||9||4|
|9||15||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||55||+ secs||10||2|
|10||16||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||54||+1 Lap||16||1|
|11||17||Sergio Perez||Sauber-Ferrari||54||+1 Lap||11|
|12||11||Rubens Barrichello||Williams-Cosworth||54||+1 Lap||23|
|13||10||Vitaly Petrov||Renault||54||+1 Lap||12|
|14||12||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Cosworth||54||+1 Lap||24|
|15||19||Jaime Alguersuari||STR-Ferrari||54||+1 Lap||15|
|16||9||Bruno Senna||Renault||54||+1 Lap||14|
|17||20||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus-Renault||54||+1 Lap||17|
|18||21||Jarno Trulli||Lotus-Renault||53||+2 Laps||18|
|19||24||Timo Glock||Virgin-Cosworth||53||+2 Laps||19|
|20||23||Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT-Cosworth||53||+2 Laps||22|
|Ret||22||Daniel Ricciardo||HRT-Cosworth||48||+7 Laps||20|
|Ret||18||Sebastien Buemi||STR-Ferrari||19||+36 Laps||13|
|Ret||25||Jerome d'Ambrosio||Virgin-Cosworth||18||+37 Laps||21|
|Ret||1||Sebastian Vettel||RBR-Renault||1||Puncture damage||1|