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. Continue reading

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F1 Abu Dhabi Quali Results & Full Report: Vettel Wins Pole, Hamilton & Alonso to start 2nd, 3rd, Webber 5th

What Happens When Everything Is Different but the Same

9:11am EST — Sebastian Vettel won another pole in a nail-biting finish to qualifying for the 2010 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi.  Fellow title contenders Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, and Mark Webber joined him in the top five starters, with Jenson 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.  Robert Kubica had the surprising lap time to be knocked out by teammate Vitaly 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.

Vettel was quickest again in Saturday morning’s final practice with a lap time of 1:40.696, leading Webber, Hamilton, Alonso, and Button as the fastest five.  It was an uneventful session, with Vettel and Webber leading much of it, Webber a few tenths off Vettel’s times.  The Ferraris ran a few laps shorter than their competition, setting early times and staying in the garage a bit more than the others.  Alonso’s final practice time was nearly eight tenths slower than Vettel’s.  According to Mike Gascoyne, tweeting before the session, “The tyres here are not coming in on the first timed lap, fronts taking time to come in.”

Q1:
The weather was windy but moderately clear as the first third of qualifying began at the Yas Marinz circuit, with Buemi, Alguersuari, and Glcok the first drivers out, soon followed by di Grassi.  Soon enough, all but the Mercedes, Red Bulls, Ferraris, Kubica, and Kobayashi were onto the track.  Five minutes into the session, the Ferraris joined the fray, both on hard tires.  There were fast times, but Hamilton’s first put his fastest with a 1:41.245, with Button second fastest, over a second behind his teammate.  Hulkenberg, another second behind, Alguersuari, and Petrov were the top five six minutes into the twenty-minute session.  Schumacher, Rosberg, Vettel, Webber, Massa, Sutil, Alonso, Kubica, and Kobayashi had yet to set a time, with neither of the latter two having yet left the garage.  Button, meanwhile, was complaining of a massive vibration. Continue reading

F1 Abu Dhabi FP1&2 Results & Report: Vettel, Hamilton Lead Title Contenders Friday

What Happens When It’s a Slightly Surprising Saturday

9:34am EST — It was a Friday of title contenders at the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, with the long-shots leading both practice sessions. Sebastian Vettel (1:42.760) had a substantial lead over Lewis Hamilton in the first session, marred by a morning rainshower, that led to a damp and then dry track in the desert. Hamilton (1:40.888) was quicker than second fastest Vettel in the second session, though the odd man out was a surprisingly quick Fernando Alonso, sixth in the first session and third fastest after leading the second session. Typically, Ferrari and Alonso are well down the order on Friday, waiting until Saturday to pounce, but it was not the case for the final round of 2010. Mark Webber was fourth fastest in both sessions, just a thousandth slower than Alonso in the second.

FP1:
Vettel (1:42.760) was quickest in the first session, leading Hamilton, Button, Webber, and Kubica as the fastest five, with Alonso a quicker then usual on Friday sixth fastest. In a surprise bit of weather for the desert, the circuit was damp at the beginning of the first practice session of the final race of the 2010 season after a bit of morning rain in Abu Dhabi, recalling the season opening MotoGP Qatar race postponed until Monday two or three years ago. It dried moderately quickly though remained damp in patches. Both McLaren and Red Bull were switching out parts on their four cars, with new bits to test. Webber was running with the vis-flow paint on his Red Bull. Still, there weren’t any particularly faster times until thirty minutes remained. As has become usual, Vettel’s pace was fastest, though Hamilton was close until the very end of the session, when Vettel was able to drop into the 1:43s, where no one could match him. He ended the session six tenths faster than Hamilton, a second faster that third fastest Button. Barrichello stopped on track at the end of the session with not word as to the reason why. Multiple drivers did go off during the damp, but only over the asphalt run-off areas. Continue reading

F1 Brazil Race Results & Full Report: Vettel Wins, Webber Loses Points to Alonso, Red Bull Champions

What Happens When Team Orders Might Have Been Helpful

12:48pm EST — Sebastian Vettel won the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix, after taking the lead from pole sitter Nico Hulkenberg at the start and holding it, relinquishing it only for a momentary pit stop when teammate and second place finisher Mark Webber.  The two gained points enough to win the constructors’ championship for Red Bull with a race to spare.  Fernando Alonso had a conservative championship run to third.  Most of the fighting was over eighth through thirteenth, with the only crash of the race, Tonio Liuzzi, bringing out the safety car.  He ran into the tire barrier right in front of Alonso, though the safety car did not bring any drama to the final fifteen laps, as lapped traffic settled in between Vettel, Webber, and Alonso.  Lewis Hamilton kept his championship hopes barely alive with a fourth place finish after a race that had hims worried about the grip in his tires.  Teammate Jenson Button finished fifth and lost any chance of winning back-to-back titles.  Much speculation will occur as to why the Red Bulls’ positions were not switched, leaving just a point between Alonso and Webber for the driver’s championship, rather than the eight points that separate leader Alonso from Webber, with Vettel fifteen back.

Hulkenberg took Williams to it’s first pole of the season and his maiden pole during a damp and drying qualifying session on Saturday, beating Vettel to the position by nearly a second.  Webber will start third, Hamilton fourth, and Alonso fifth.  Despite the damp, there were no incidents, just lots of times traded back and forth.  Alonso and Webber led Q1 and Q2, respectively, but the drying conditions that put options tires on all the Q3 starters at the end of the session made for furious position changes, as Hulkenberg kept his pole time through the final laps after the flag and bettered his own time to put a stamp on his first-place start for Sunday’s race and the quiet resurgence of Williams through the latter half of the season.  Button was knocked out in Q2 and will start eleventh, while Massa nearly was and will start ninth.  Button also had a scare while leading the circuit, his car nearly coming under attack from multiple armed men, while Sauber personnel were robbed at gunpoint, having their car broken into while they were in it and some items taken.  Christian Klien’s HRT stopped at the pit exit before his first lap out to grid up, the German filling in for Sakon Yamamoto all weekend, and he was forced to walk back as the circuit craned his car back; he started from the pit.  Bruno Senna received a five place grid penalty to start, as he qualified, last after a gearbox change.

The sun was shining and there were only fluffy clouds on the horizon as the field returned to the grid after the formation lap.  Hulkenberg got away cleanly, but Vettel took the lead into turn 1.  Webber was around Hamilton for third, with Alonso fifth as the top five got away from Petrov.  Webber was next around Hulkenberg as Hamilton tried to keep fending off Alonso.  Byt the end of the first lap, Vettel had a second and a half on Webber, withe a similar margin to Hulkenberg.  Alonso took a look on Hamilton down the front straight, but he could not do so, until Hamilton had a wiggle and Alonso took complete advantage to move up to fourth.  At the end of the second lap, vettel’s lead was up to two seconds over his teammate, Hulkenberg still third, but with Alonso just three tenths back.  At the end of the next lap, Alonso had no gap on the front straight, but he could not take Hulkenberg into Turn 1.  By the end of the fifth lap of seventy-one, Vettel led Webber, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Hamilton, Kubica, Barrichello, Massa, Schumacher, and Button as the top ten. Continue reading

MotoGP Valencia Race Results & Full Report: Lorenzo Wins at Home, Rossi Kisses Yamaha Goodbye

What Happens When the Results Belie the Race

8:54am EST — Jorge Lorenzo won the final grand prix of the 2010 season in convincing fashion, after dropping down the grid on the start, fighting off soon to be former teammate Valentino Rossi, and hunting down pole sitter and race leader Casey Stoner.  Stoner, Rossi, Ben Spies, and Andrea Dovizioso completed the top five, with the latter two having a spirited battle that included sixth-place finisher Marco Simoncelli (who was positioned on the podium for a portion of the race) over that fourth position.  Nicky Hayden crashed out due to, his admitted rider error, while trying to hunt down his one soon to be former teammate Stoner for the lead.  While Lorenzo was planting the Spanish flag in a Valencian gravel trap, Rossi had parked his Yamaha against the Armco to kiss it goodbye.

Stoner won pole during Saturday’s qualifying, holding off Lorenzo as he had done in most of the practice sessions.  It was a relatively uneventful qualifying, with Stoner keeping the pole through the final five minutes after the two had traded it back and forth.  Simoncelli will start third, in the position he held much of the session, with a surprise final run catapulting Rossi from eleventh to fourth.  Hayden, Spies (with an injured ankle), and Edwards will have an American conference on the grid, starting fifth through seventh.  Pedrosa, still recovering from his collarbone, was fifth fastest for a good portion of qualifying, but will start eighth.  Hayden had a good run during the Sunday morning warm-up, beating both Lorenzo and Stoner to be fastest.  Pedrosa and Edwards completed the morning’s fastest five, with Rossi and Spies eighth and ninth, respectively.

The sun was shining brightly as the riders got away cleanly at Valencia, Stoner leading into the first turn, followed by Lorenzo, and Hayden around many bike for third, Pedrosa rammed his way up to send by the third turn, as Rossi dropped back to ninth.  Hayden and Pedrosa had a skirmish over second, but Hayden was just behind his teammate by the end of the first lap.  They were followed by Pedrosa, Simoncelli, Lorenzo, Dovizioso, Spies, Rossi, Melandri, and Barbera.  Lorenzo and Simoncelli were really fighting over fourth, with Simoncelli keeping the position over the man with the shiny helmet.  In the fighting, they touched and Lorenzo nearly went down in the final turn after attempting a move that was too tight to attempt.  Meanwhile, Hayden and Pedrosa were also fighting, which left Hayden kicking the gravel in anger after crashing out from trying to hard to catch Stoner, according to the rider later.  Just three laps in, Stoner led Pedrosa by .724, with Simoncelli, Rossi, Dovizioso, Lorenzo, Spies, Barbera, and Espargaro as the top ten.  Continue reading

F1 Brazil Quali Results & Full Report: Hulkenberg Wins Pole in Surprising Saturday

What Happens When Rain Brings Drama and Surprise

1:07pm EST — Nico Hulkenberg took Williams to it’s first pole of the season and his maiden pole during a damp and drying qualifying session for the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix, beating Sebastian Vettel to the position by nearly a second. mark Webber will start third, Lewis Hamilton fourth, and Fernando Alonso fifth. Despite the damp, there were no incidents, just lots of times traded back and forth. Alonso and Webber led Q1 and Q2, respectively, but the drying conditions that put options tires on all the Q3 starters at the end of the session made for furious position changes, as Hulkenberg kept his pole time through the final laps after the flag and bettered his own time to put a stamp on his first-place start for Sunday’s race and the quiet resurgence of Williams through the latter half of the season. Jenson Button was knocked out in Q2 and will start eleventh, while Felipe Massa nearly was and will start ninth.

Kubica took the fastest lap (1:19.191) from Vettel as the final practice session on Saturday morning ended. It was a damp session, with rain falling as it began, but the track attempted to dry out, leaving the drivers on inters as the session ended. Hamilton, Massa, and Alonso rounded out the fastest five, with Button ninth and Webber eleventh. Vettel was fastest in the second practice session on Friday, the only driver of the weekend to post a time under 1:12s, with his 1:11.968 lap time. He led teammate Webber, though Alonso was third fastest, with Hamilton and Massa, who stopped about two-thirds of the way through the session with a clutch issue rounding out the fastest five. Vettel was fastest (1:12.328) in the first practice session Friday, leading teammate and title rival Webber, Hamilton, Button, and Kubica as the fastest five. Vettel’s time was set about two-thirds through a generally uneventful session, though the real drama came at the end. Petrov lost his Renault heavily into a tire barrier after over-compensating for a serious wiggle, causing extensive damage. Alonso, who ended the session thirteenth fastest, stopped on the side of the track in the final seconds with a suspected (and anticipated) engine failure, while Kobayashi also lost his Sauber at the same turn as Petrov, though a bit later and without hitting the tire barrier. HRT had announced Thursday that Christian Klien would replace Sakon Yamamoto for the entire weekend.

Q1:
According to Mike Gascoyne on Twitter, “Rain forecast between 14.05 and 14.10 lasting 20 mins so expect it to be busy at the start of the session.” It was true, as Buemi led a number of cars onto the track as the pit exit opened. Just over one minute into the twenty minutes session had every driver out, and all on inters. Buemi’s was the first time, of course, a 1:22.744, one that interestingly stayed on top until Webber’s time, a second and a half quicker. Massa joined his as second fastest on his first timed lap, with Petrov soon taking that position, then ALguersuari, while Hulkenberg went faster than Webber. Five minutes in and it was Hulkenberg, Webber, Hamilton, Algueruari, and Petrov as the top five. It didn’t last, with Schumacher displacing the younger German and Petrov, Webber. Then Hulenberg responded. Liuzzi nearly ran into Sutil while coming back onto the circuit after a big slide in the heavy spray, but both continued on unscathed. Of course, the mission then was not necessarily to be fastest, but not to be knocked out, with Heidfeld, Trulli, di Grassi, Kovalainen, Senna, Sutil, and Klien in that position with thirteen minutes left in the session. Continue reading

F1 Brazil FP3 Results & Full Report: Kubica on Top at the End of Rainy, Damp Session

What Happens When Rain Makes Everything More Interesting

10:12am EST — Robert Kubica took the fastest lap (1:19.191) from Sebastian Vettel as the final practice session for the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix ended. It was a damp session, with rain falling as it began, but the track attempted to dry out, leaving the drivers on inters as the session ended. Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa, and Fernando Alonso rounded out the fastest five, with Jenson Button ninth and Mark Webber eleventh. The forecast as the session ended was for an interesting qualifying, with intermittent rain through the day.

Vettel was again fastest in the second practice session on Friday, the only driver of the weekend to post a time under 1:12s, with his 1:11.968 lap time. He, also again, led teammate Webber, though Alonso was third fastest, with Hamilton and Massa, who stopped about two-thirds of the way through the session with a clutch issue rounding out the fastest five. The sessions could be very helpful or a waste of rubber as heavy rain was forecast to wash off the rubber laid down Friday, before the Saturday practice and qualifying sessions, which also had the possibility of rain, along with Sunday’s race.

Vettel was fastest (1:12.328) in the first practice session Friday, leading teammate and title rival Webber, Hamilton, Button, and Kubica as the fastest five. Vettel’s time was set about two-thirds through a generally uneventful session. The first half hour was marked by a lack of traffic, but Vettel and Hamilton dueled via lap time for a portion. The real dram was in the last ten minutes, though not from lap times. Petrov lost his Renault heavily into a tire barrier after over-compensating for a serious wiggle, causing extensive damage. Alonso, who ended the session thirteenth fastest, stopped on the side of the track in the final seconds with a suspected (and anticipated) engine failure, while Kobayashi also lost his Sauber at the same turn as Petrov, though a bit later and without hitting the tire barrier. Jerome D’Ambrosio was in for Lucas di Grassi for just the first Friday session again, while HRT had announced Thursday that Christian Klien would replace Sakon Yamamoto for the entire weekend.

The final practice began after a rainy night, with the rain still falling at Interlagos as the session got underway. Newest weather reports were suggesting that it would be dry for the race, but the rain would make for an interesting qualifying later in the afternoon. Kovalainen was the first driver to test the conditions when the hour-long practice session got underway. He was quickly joined by half the field, though only Button of the larger teams, then Hamilton. Five minutes into the session, everyone had done and installation lap, but no on had set a time. Nearly all of the drivers went out on wet tires, but Massa tried his hand at the intermediates, though, according to Mike Gascoyne, “Both drivers saying intermediates should be okay, maybe a couple of laps on the extremes to see and then change.” Continue reading