2011 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Sunday Race – Hamilton wins as Vettel retires on first lap

He was pipped to the Pole position by Sebastian Vettel on Saturday but Lewis Hamilton still managed to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit as a Vettel had to retire on the first lap itself due to a right-rear tyre puncture suffered as a result of clipping a kerb at the start. Vettel limped back to the pits but there was too much damage on his tyre drum & suspension to continue and thus had his first DNF of this season.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Sunday Podium

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso  finished second having passed Jenson Button at the start and though he stayed close to Hamilton and even led the race after Hamilton’s second pit stop but dropped back after his own stop for a tyre change. Jenson Button took third place as he battled a failed KERS System on his McLaren and wasn’t able to mount as serious a challenge as he would have liked.

Mark Webber finished in fourth place (the first time no Red Bull driver was on the podium) as he followed a three-stop strategy and had to change to the harder compound tyre at the last lap of the race, allowing Button to move ahead. Felipe Massa finished fifth, ahead of Nico Rosberg in sixth and Michael Schumacher in seventh. Adrian Sutil finished eighth in his Sahara Force India and teammate Paul Di Resta used a one-stop strategy to finish ninth. Kamui Kobayashi in the Sauber took the last point in tenth place.

The race pattern was set at the start itself as Vettel streaked off the grid but then clipped the kerb at the exit to turn two and spun onto the gravel with his right-rear tyre punctured. He limped back into the pits but damage to his tyre drum and suspension meant game over. Hamilton led the race and behind him, Fernando Alonso made an overtake move on Jenson Button stick and slotted into second position.

Webber and Massa had a ding-dong battle for fourth place – the double DRS zones on the track making for some exciting moves, Webber passes Massa in zone 1 and Massa comes back ahead using his DRS in zone 2! This pattern was followed for other drivers as well throughout the race, which was just about the only exciting thing going on on the track! I believe I even dozed off around the second pit-stops’ time 😐

It was good to see McLaren back to their silver overalls for Button and Hamilton after their er…um…electric-blue-with-yellow-maple-leaves patterned overalls that they wore for Qualifying. Also was good to see Alonso putting up a good fight in an underperforming Ferrari to get onto the podium yet again. And despite his DNF, Vettel perched himself on the Red Bull pit wall to note the gings-on in the strategy calls and that too was good to see.

The race for second place in the drivers’ standings sees Jenson Button having a ten point lead over Fernando Alonso who in turn has a twelve point lead over Mark Webber. Barring a DNF or an out-of-points finish for Button, that is his for the taking. But I’d imagine Alonso will have a right go at that at Interlagos in the last race of the season.

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