Vettel leads Red Bull 1-2 at Abu Dhabi

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuitae

Sebastian Vettel has put in another masterful drive to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with half a lap of an advantage over his teammate Mark Webber. Nico Rosberg fought off a late charge by Romain Grosjean to finish third.

As the lights went out, Vettel immediately took the lead as Webber saw Rosberg pass. It wasn't a particularly bad start for the Australian though as he slotted into third, challenging to come back into second on the straights, but without DRS this proves rather difficult to realise.

At the end of lap 1, Grosjean moved up into 4th, ahead of Hamilton. Hulkenberg is 6th, ahead of Massa and then Alonso. The Spaniard recovered well from a poor qualifying and moved up 3 places in the first lap. Kimi Raikkonen meanwhile abandoned by turn 3 as he broke the steering arm on the right front when getting into contact with a Caterham.

Button also clipped a car on the first lap and had to enter the pits on his first pass to replace the front wing.

By lap 6, Vettel is 4 seconds ahead of Rosberg and is asked by Rocky to take it easy and not burn off the tyres too quickly.

Maldonado by that time has pitted, followed by Perez one lap later, switching from the soft to the medium. Hamilton does the same on lap 8.

Webber and Grosjean pit simultaneously on lap 9, Rosberg on lap 11. Their relative positions didn't change though. Vettel, Massa and Alonso are now the first three men in the race as neither of them have made a stop in the first 12 laps.

At the start of lap 14, Vettel leads massa by 26 seconds. Next up is Alonso, 2.5s down on his teammate. At the end of that lap however, Vettel pits and rejoins about 4 seconds ahead of the leading Ferrari. Fourth is Di Resta, then Vergne, but also still on the tyres they started on. Rosberg is 6th, followed by Webber, Sutil, Grosjean, Gutierrez, Hamilton, Hulkenberg, Bottas, Perez and Maldonado.

On lap 17 Alonso pits and changes to the medium tyres. He rejoins the track just behind Bottas and Perez.

Hamilton meanwhile is still stuck behind Gutierrez. The Mexican is defending fiercely and benefits well from the high top speed of the Sauber. Hulkenberg is right behind as well, with Bottas, Perez and Alonso slowly closing in behind them as well. Maldonado is a further 4 seconds down the road.

After Massa pitted on lap 18, he rejoined the race amidst this pack, getting back to racing in between Hamilton and Massa.

On lap 20, Webber gains a position on Rosberg, benefiting from the delay that Sutil is creating for both of them. Rosberg was unable to get past.

On lap 22 Alonso moves up in the pack and gets past Perez. The next lap it's Bottas who loses a place as Alonso moves up into 9th, again making a DRS pass on the second straight.

On lap 26 Hamilton has a go on Sutil on the first straight, but then finds Sutil pass by again on the next straight. Massa however benefits from that and sneaks in to gain a place on Hamilton. One lap later Massa makes a move stick on Sutil to break away from the pack while Alonso passes Hulkenberg to move up into 8th.

Another lap later Hamilton finally manages to pass Sutil as well. At the end of that lap, Hulkenberg and Perez pit, while another half lap later Alonso gets past Sutil as well. Hamilton then pits as well whereas Hulkenberg has an unsafe release and ends up getting penalised, ruining his 5th place.

By lap 30, the midfield pack has desintegrated completely. Positions are VET WEB ROS GRO MAS ALO DIR VER GUT HAM BOT HUL SUT PER MAL BUT RIC VDG PIC BIA CHI.

On lap 34, Webber and Rosberg both pit and rejoin the track with an unchanged gap of approximately 3 seconds in between them. This promotes Grosjean in second place while the Ferrari duo is 5 seconds behind Rosberg.

By lap 36 Alonso is within the DRS zone behind Massa after going up to a second a lap faster than his team mate. Massa however has already claimed not do obey any team order if one would be given, requiring Alonso to fight for his money.

Vettel meanwhile is virtually driving his own race, 40 seconds ahead of Grosjean in second place just ahead of his stop on lap 38. Needless to say, he remains in the lead, not only because Grosjean also decided to pit on the same lap. The Frenchman rejoins just ahead of Massa in 5th place.

One lap later Massa pits and takes on another set of medium tyres. The stop itself took 3.8 seconds and Massa rejoins in 9th, in between Hamilton and Bottas.

On lap 46 Alonso pits and changes to soft tyres for his final stint. He rejoins the track aggressively and side by side of Vergne to get ahead of the Toro Rosso at the next turn. The move is soon under investigation as Alonso in fact managed to do so while running off the track. He never actually was behind Vergne, but one may argue he gained an advantage by running off the track. 5 minutes later it is announced that the incident is to be investigated after the race.

3 laps later, Alonso has set a fastest lap and reduced his gap to Hamilton to 1.4 seconds. Massa meanwhile got past Vergne to take 8th.

Grosjean at the same time is alsp posting great laptimes as he attempts to catch Rosberg. The gap with 5 laps to go is 2.5 seconds.

On lap 51 Alonso passes Hamilton and finds Di Resta just 1 second ahead of the Mercedes. On the next straight, Di Resta proves to be an easy prey to take 5th.

In the end, the predictable winner is Vettel following another dominant drive. Next up are more donuts, this time done in the run-off zone on the winning lap. Mark Webber finishes second, Nico Rosberg third. Fernando Alonso meanwhile secured the fastest lap of the race, no matter what will be the result of the stewards' investigation.

Results

Pos.No.DriverTeamLapsTimeGridPts
11Sebastian VettelRed Bull Racing-Renault55Winner225
22Mark WebberRed Bull Racing-Renault55+30.8 secs118
39Nico RosbergMercedes AMG55+33.6 secs315
48Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault55+34.8 secs612
53Fernando AlonsoFerrari55+67.1 secs1010
614Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes55+78.1 secs118
710Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG55+79.2 secs46
84Felipe MassaFerrari55+82.8 secs74
96Sergio PerezMcLaren-Mercedes55+91.1 secs82
1015Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes55+93.2 secs171
1116Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Renault55+95.9 secs14
125Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes55+ secs12
1312Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari55+ secs16
1411Nico HulkenbergSauber-Ferrari54+1 Lap5
1517Valtteri BottasWilliams-Renault54+1 Lap15
1619Daniel RicciardoSTR-Ferrari54+1 Lap9
1718Jean-Eric VergneSTR-Ferrari54+1 Lap13
1821Giedo van der GardeCaterham-Renault54+1 Lap18
1920Charles PicCaterham-Renault54+1 Lap19
2022Jules BianchiMarussia-Cosworth53+2 Lap21
2123Max ChiltonMarussia-Cosworth53+2 Lap20
Ret7Kimi RäikkönenLotus-Renault0DNF22