F1 Abu Dhabi Race Results & Full Report: Vettel Wins Race, Championship as Abu Dhabi’s lack of Passing

What Happens When It’s the Renaults That Surprise

9:55am EST — Sebastian Vettel won the 2010 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi and became the youngest F1 Champion in one fell swoop, only giving up the lead through a pit stop and finishing ten seconds ahead of second place finisher Lewis Hamilton, who spent much of his race bottled up behind Robert Kubica.  Jenson Button finished third after taking a position from Fernando Alonso on the start and holding the lead after Vettel gave it up to stop.  Button made his soft tires last nearly two thirds of the race.  Nico Rosberg and Kubica, who made his own tires last all but the final few laps, completed the top five.  Alonso finished seventh after losing that position at the start and getting bottled up behind sixth place finisher Vitaly Petrov for nearly all of the race, with Chris Dyer of Ferrari tweeting afterward, “It was our fault, we asked Fernando to be defensive.”  Mark Webber finished eighth, after being forced to pit early, having tagged his right rear on a barrier charging after position.  The race was also paused by an early safety car after Michael Schumacher spun on the first lap and was run over by Tonio Liuzzi.  Both were unhurt.

Vettel won another pole in a nail-biting finish to Saturday qualifying in Abu Dhabi.  Fellow title contenders Hamilton, Alonso, and Webber joined him in the top five starters, with Button helpfully slotting into fourth for teammate Hamilton.  Vettel looked to have pole in hand, but Hamilton and Alonso both had time for another lap after the session had ended.  Alonso jumped from fifth to third on that lap.  Kubica had the surprising lap time to be knocked out by teammate Petrov in Q2.  If the race were to finish in the starting order on Sunday, Alonso would still win the championship, with the points as such: Alonso, 261; Vettel, 256; Webber, 248; Hamilton, 247.  For more championship calculations, read the F1B championship points charts.

The light was already beginning to fade for the day into night, final race of the 2010 season as the lights went out, Vettel led into the first turn, and Button taking position from Alonso, who didn’t let him pass, but did kkep his own car safe for finishing.  Vettel was taking quite a lead as the saftey car was deployed.  Schumacher had spun and Liuzzi ran directly into him, his Force India climbing over the top of the Mercedes.  Both were uninjured, though it was a scary incident with Liuzzi’s nose nearly hitting Schumacher’s helmet.  Rosberg, who didn’t quite bump his teammate into that spin, and Petrov, Algerusuari, Senna, and Klien all pitted as well.  Before the restart, Vettel led Hamilton, Button, Alonso, Webber, Massa, Barrichello, Kobayashi, Sutil, and Kubica as the top ten.  On their way back to the garage, Schumacher and Liuzzi seemed jovial.  Under the safety car, Hamilton was continually checking with the team that everything was ok on his car.

The SC went back in on L5 of fifty-five, with Hamilton nearly overtaking Vettel before they could pass by going off the track.  Vettel was gone well before the start/finish, with everyone else in the top few keeping their positions.  Button through Buemi were all around a half second apart.  Kubica moved around Sutil for ninth, both on the harder tire.  Soon, though, the gaps began to spread out a bit, with Webber just .6s behind Alonso, but Massa just .6s behind Webber.  Kobayashi shoved his way around Barrichello for seventh, but lost the position immediately, running a bit wide.  Vettel was taking off in the lead, gaining time all the time on Hamilton while Alonso seemed content to run a bit behind Button while Massa caught up Webber behind him.  Webber tagged the right rear tire on a bit of armco, but continuing on, seemingly without problem.  He was nearly a second and a half behind Alonso, but only seven tenths ahead of Massa.

L10, Vettel led Hamilton by 1.7s, then Button, Alonso, Webber, Massa, Barrichello, Kobayashi, Kubica, and Sutil as the top ten.  Webber had lost more time to Alonso, but remained under a second ahead of Massa as most of the drivers looked to be looking after their tires, especially through the slippery oil dry where Schumacher and Liuzzi came together.  Webber, meanwhile, was radioing about his rear tire, being forced to pit on L11 to replace that possibly damaged right rear.  He nearly lost the car into the wall in the pit lane tunnel, returning to the fray behind Alguersuari and in sixteenth.  Vettel, though, was losing time to Hamilton, with the gap down to nine tenths.  Ferrari was out to the pitlane, but back in without a stop.  They were back out a minute later, but without tires, though they did have some tools to change the downforce settings.  Massa stopped on L14 for the harder tire.  He, too, slid about in the tunnel, but behind Webber and Alguersuari, who was not about to pull over for Webber.  He then did so.

L15 had Vettel still leading Hamilton, but by a second, with Button another three and a half back, then Alonso just under two seconds behind the Briton.  Barrichello completed the top five.  Alonso pitted on L15.  Heidfeld came in as well.  Alonso stayed in front of Webber on the stop (in twelfth), that time behind Alguersuari having hurt the Australian.  Meanwhile, Red Bull was telling Vettel that he would be staying out a bit longer and to try to gap Hamilton whilst still saving his tires.  Barrichello was the next to pit, on L18, with Rosberg the highest running car already pitted in ninth, with Petrov in eleventh also having pitted, both ahead of Alonso in twelfth.  He was soon right behind Petrov, just four tenths between them on L20.  With the pitstops still shaking out, Vettel still led Hamilton, then Button, with Kobayashi and Kubica completing the top five.

As Alonso closed in on Petrov, Webber was coming up behind Alonso.  Ferrari sent Alonso a bit of encouragement, his engineer radioing, “I know you’re doing your best, but it’s critical you pass him.”  Alonso was very nearly there, but not quite close enough to make the position.  Hamilton pitted on L24 while Alonso ran off the track attempting to pass Petrov.  He did not lose position to Webber, though he closed up on the Spaniard.  Hamilton was back out in fifth.  Red Bull was strongly encouraging Vettel to “give it all you’ve got!”  He then pitted.  Vettel was out right in front of Kobayashi, who had a tiny look after having run wide on the final turn, but he couldn’t make it around Vettel.  Kubica was looking to get around Koabayashi, didn’t make it the first time, but forced his way around the younger Japanese driver.  With Button, Kubica, and Kobayashi not having pitted, Button led Vettel, Kubica, Kobayashi, and Hamilton as the top five on L25.

Webber was also off and on the track running after Alonso, who was bottle-necked behind Petrov.  Hamilton made his way around Kobayashi for fourth.  Webber was over a second behind Alonso.  If Vettel won the race, Alonso must finish fourth or higher to win the championship.  Alonso had another moment of running off the track while running after Petrov while Ferrari noted on Twitter, “It is getting tougher. It is not only Petrov but also Rosberg who has to be passed.”  L30 ended with Button leading Vettel, Kubica, Hamilton, Kobayashi, Sutil, Buemi, Rosberg, Hulkenberg, and Petrov as the top ten, and many stops yet to be made.

Hamilton attempted to dive below Kubica, but could not pass him, let alone keep the position.  Hamilton radioed that he would have to pit again with a terrible left front.  The team informed him that he could not pit unless he had to.  It would drop him down around sixteenth if he were to pit.  Replays showed that Hamilton certainly wasn’t saving his left front.  Alonso kept getting closer to Petrov, but unable to get around him.  Button, meanwhile, was still leading on the softer tires, not having stopped yet thirty-two laps into the race.  Kobayashi finally pitted on L34 from sixth, nearly tagging the wall in the tunnel, and rejoining in sixteenth.  That brought Alonso into tenth and one point, but it still would not be enough to win him the championship.

There were still quite a few stops to be made with twenty laps remaining (Button, Kubica, Sutil, Buemi, and Hulkenberg, all in the top ten).  Hulkenberg pitted on on L37, moving Alonso back up another position.  Buemi was in on the next lap.  Button pitted from the lead on L40, finally switching to the harder tire.  He returned to an empty track in fourth, behind Hamilton and ahead of Sutil.  Vettel led again with fifteen laps left, Kubica hold Hamilton up behind him, then Button and Sutil the top five.  Rosberg was ahead of the Petrov/Alonso fight, with both Kubica and Rosberg yet to stop.  Vettel also informed the team that all the important information had to be on his pit board as his radio wasn’t working.  Meanwhile, Alonso was being told to “Use the best of your talent. We know how big it is.”

With ten laps remaining, Kubica and Sutil were the only drivers not to pit.  Vettel led the race and looked likely to win his first championship, as Alonso needed to pass both Petrov and Rosberg to win, and possibly Kubica depending on how the Pole’s stop worked out.  Glock eneded his race with a bit of fire, pulling off, as Kubica pitted on L47.  He was back out well ahead of teammate Petrov.  On the exit, Kubica put all four tires over the white line on the right of the pit exit.  Sutil also pitted, on L48, to rejoin in twelfth.  With everyone having stopped, Vettel led Hamilton, Button, Rosberg, Kubica, Petrov, Alonso, Webber, Alguersuari, and Massa as the top ten.

The top ten had not changed with five laps remaining.  Alonso kept running wide and off track, pushing to go around Petrov.  He still needed to move up to fourth to win the championship.  Webber was closing on him, but it would not make much difference for Webber’s title hopes.  Hamilton was over ten seconds behind Vettel, with his own title hopes shot as well.  As Ferrari tweeted, “Fernando is fighting like hell but it looks impossible.”  It is also a consequence of Abu Dhabi’s low numbers of passes that Kubica and Petrov had so successfully kept Hamilton and Alonso behind them.  Trulli lost quite a bit of debris on the track, but it was not enough to stop the race with a lap and a half to go.  Vettel looked to become the youngest ever F1 champion as the final lap began, having run around and through a couple of bits of Trulli’s debris.  Vettel won the championship with his race win as Alonso continued to attempt to pass Petrov, but it would not happen.  Vettel was in tears on the radio, telling the team, “thank you. I love you,” before screaming in victory.

Final Positions for the 2010 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi:
1. Vettel
2. Hamilton
3. Button
4. Rosberg
5. Kubica
6. Petrov
7. Alonso
8. Webber
9. Alguersuari
10. Massa
11. Heidfeld
12. Barrichello
13. Sutil
14. Kobayashi
15. Buemi
17. Kovalainen
18. di Grassi
19. Senna
20. Klien
21. Trulli


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