Vettel leads a Red Bull one-two in finale (Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race report)

Vettel took an emphatic win in the final race of 2009

Vettel took an emphatic win in the final race of 2009

Sebastian Vettel took advantage of problems for Lewis Hamilton to win his fourth Grand Prix of 2009.

It was a one-two for Red Bull as Mark Webber kept Jenson Button at bay to take second place in an exciting end to an otherwise predictable race.

With KERS and a clear run to the first corner Lewis Hamilton was never in much danger of losing the lead. But even on the first lap there were tell-tales signs of the problem that was going to end his race – he braked too deep into the turn six chicane, allowing Vettel to briefly close up, but KERS kept him safe on the straight.

Webber took up third despite making contact with Rubens Barrichello at the first turn. The impact knocked part of the Brawn’s wing off, and while he got used to the car’s impaired handling Button seized the opportunity to squeeze past and take fourth.

Given his pace in practice and qualifying Hamilton was expected to tear off into the distance. But it didn’t happen – he edged a few tenths away from Vettel here and there, but on lap 11 he out-braked himself again and lost almost all of his small lead.

It was clear he was not going to hold onto the lead after the first round of pit stops but he hardly made it any further than that. His braking problems were traced to the right-rear of the car and Hamilton was told to park up – the first time an F1 car had let him down in 52 races.

Vettel’s pit stop passed without drama – but only just. Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari had been pit-bound with a gearbox problem and accidentally swung into Vettel’s pit box. The Red Bull mechanics hurried him out as Vettel arrived. Alguersuari, meanwhile, failed to complete the next lap and retired.

Webber had pitted before Vettel, so after their pit stops Vettel had a helathy lead of more than six seconds.

After the early pit stops Kamui Kobayashi rose to third place and the highest placed single-stopper. That was partly thanks to smart driving on the first lap keeping Kimi Raikkonen boxed in, preventing the Ferrari driver from being able to exploit his KERS boost.

Button came out in front of Kobayashi after the Brawn had been serviced, and the pair resumed their battle from Interagos. But this time it was the lighter-fuelled Kobayashi who seized the advantage, passing Button down the inside at turn eight.

That delay cost Button in the dying stages of the race. Once the second round of pit stops had been dispensed with he found himself quickly catching Webber, who was struggling in the braking zones. Button only had the last lap to launch an attack and Webber repelled his advances in brilliant fashion.

Their duel meant Vettel enjoyed an untroubled run to victory, which he took by over 17 seconds. Barrichello finished fourth behind his team mate and one place ahead of Nick Heidfeld in the final race for BMW. Heidfeld had worried about his team mate’s pace during practice but Robert Kubica slipped down the order after spinning while trying to pass Sebastien Buemi.

Kobayashi finished a remarkable sixth which could serve as a boost to the chances of Toyota approving a budget for the team later this month. Jarno Trulli backed him up in seventh, and Buemi scored the final point.

Kubica finished tenth behind Nico Rosberg, with Heikki Kovalainen behind him in 11th having started 18th. Raikkonen’s inability to make progress early on meant he finished hislast race for Ferrari in 12th.

His replacement, Fernando Alonso, ended his last race for Renault in 14th behind Kazuki Nakajima.

Vitantonio Liuzzi beat team mate Adrian Sutil in his final race, the Italian finishing 15th ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella. Romain Grosjean was the last classified runner in 18th.

F1 now heads into the off-season with many unanswered questions about next year’s line-up. The likes of Kobayashi and Liuzzi made cases for why their teams should retain them for 2010, but Grosjean is surely among those worrying he might not get another crack next year.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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91 comments on Vettel leads a Red Bull one-two in finale (Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race report)

  1. mp4-19b said on 1st November 2009, 16:07

    Wonderful Wonderful Blog! Absolute pleasure being part of this! Hope fanatics carry on with the same enthusiasm as they did during the season. Once again Keith, you are my hero. Superb job!

  2. 15 drivers finished on the lead lap. Is that a record?

    • surely- NO!

    • Ned Flanders said on 1st November 2009, 16:27

      I think it could be- there are so few retirements these days, and the cars are all similar speeds. I miss the days of Super Aguri’s and Minardi’s being 6 seconds off the pace, and getting lapped all the time

      • Many times this season 15, also Germany had 17. I bet Germany is not only one. You should follow f1 dude.

        • No, I don’t mean the whole number of finishers, I mean number of drivers that were not lapped. I do follow F1 very closely.

          • I’ve checked the other races and never realised how many drivers finished on the lead lap. Racing really is much closer these days.

  3. But Vettel was already leading the race when Lewis stopped… so I think it’s not 100% true that Vettel “took advantage of problems for LH”.

    • i agree with u

      • Scribe said on 1st November 2009, 16:27

        Hamiltons problems ment he couldn’t pull away from Vettle. He clearly had the pace over the weekend to be doing just that.

    • Or “porblems”. I think Keith’s still excited :D

    • I think Keith is right!

      • But Vettel and also Webber came back ahead of Hamilton. He would arrive just in third.

        • But Vettel and also Webber came back ahead of Hamilton. He would arrive just in third.

          I cant get your point, but Lewis and Martin post race statement shows that Keith is right:

          LEWIS:

          “After three or four laps, it became clear that there was a problem with my right-rear brake pad, so I couldn’t open up the gap back to Sebastian and Mark [Webber].

          MARTIN:

          “Today, though, after just five laps, his right rear brake pad began to show signs of an unusual level of wear – a rogue pad, we think – and as a result we had to stop him for safety reasons. That was an enormous pity, because up to that point he’d shown blistering pace every day.”

    • GeeMac said on 1st November 2009, 18:40

      Scribe is right there. Lewis’s (spelling) brake problems were slowing him down from the get go…

  4. Got to love 2 guys dueling it out on the last few laps, sidways and clean…you could tell they both had a ball, with grins from ear to ear.

  5. mp4-19b said on 1st November 2009, 16:20

    Now who would have believed me if I told you after the Turkish gp that Jenson would end up with less than 100 points!! Just goes to show how badly he fell apart in the second half. When was the last time that we’ve had a Champion scoring less than 100 points with the current points format(hamilton Excluded)? Schumi 2003? Ended up with 93 if I am correct.

    I think this is the first time since 95-96 that the season ending & season opening race will be geographically the closest. Adelaide & Melbourne weren’t too far apart.

    • Robbie said on 1st November 2009, 16:39

      It’s much more exciting when the points are spread out amongst drivers instead of them all going to one person.

    • Now who would have believed me if I told you after the Turkish gp that Jenson would end up with less than 100 points!! Just goes to show how badly he fell apart in the second half.

      Good point, McLaren Project.

      Last year we have all the anti-Hamilton brigade jumping to accuse the two contenders of mediocrity because of points score in the championship. Lewis scored more than Jenson this year and now we can see how last year was a terrific season and a great fight between Lewis and Felipe.

      2008:

      1 Lewis Hamilton 98 points
      2 Felipe Massa 97 points
      ……………………………………………………………………..

      2009:

      1 Jenson Button 95 points
      2 Sebastian Vettel 84 points

    • The same should happen next year. We’ll have Alonso-Massa at Ferrari, Hamilton-(Kimi/Button/Heidfeld) at McLaren. Moreover, Brawn GP and Red Bull may be well again.

      2010 will be a great season!

      • Scribe said on 1st November 2009, 22:19

        might just point out to Becken that there was one more race last year.

        This being last year Button would have closed out with two races to go.

        • And don’t forget, Button got HALF points for the rain out in Singapore, otherwise he would have broken 100. Stop the Button bashing. If he spread his wins out over the season, you’d be calling him KIMI. Btw, how many points did Kimi have when he won by one point?

  6. Great Blog, going to look forward to next year, depressed too! hope Groj gets a drive wih one of the new teams but only time will tell.

    hope Jenson can retain his title next year!!!!!

  7. Ned Flanders said on 1st November 2009, 16:40

    If cars can’t overtake on a circuit with a 1200m long straight then it’s difficult to deny that its the aerodynamics which are causing the problems. I find it concerning that with the aero regulations staying the same next season, the racing will be just as processional.

    Recession or no recession, the teams really need to find a few million pounds to set up a better, well funded Overtaking Working Group (really it should Bernie and CVC paying but that ain’t gonna happen), and hopefully by 2011 they’ll come up with something that works. I’m not holding my breath, though- F1 is never that sensible

    • they should definitely reconsider ground effect, and how it can be implemented to preserve modern-day safety

    • James G said on 1st November 2009, 17:30

      That’s hit the nail on the head, Ned. A lot of people think that the racing is going to be better next year and that because they can’t pass in the pits, they’ll ‘have to’ pass each other on track, when the more likely result is that they just won’t pass each other at all.

      It’s pretty obvious what’s going on. It’s the aero. How many times this season have we seen a car gaining on the one in front my two to three seconds, only for the time to drop when it gets stuck in the dirty air behind it?

    • Salty said on 1st November 2009, 17:52

      Agree mostly, but a smidge harsh there buddy. The Button and Webber show over the last 2 laps demonstrated that you could overtake here, but Webber was just damn wily. Jenson drove through the turbulent air and got alongside Webber several times.

      Often hear the argument that F1 cars are just so efficent in acceleration and braking that the window of opportunity for passing is much narrower than in other forms of racing. Very true. But then would we want steel brakes and dumbed down engines in F1 to allow for this? F1 is the pinnicle of car design. It needs to be tough to overtake I think.

    • Xanathos said on 1st November 2009, 18:20

      Who exactly was supposed to overtake? if you are 3 seconds behind and lapping slower than the guy in front, the straight could be a 100 miles long, it won’t help you. I don’t remember any driver being stuck behind a much slower car today. Well, maybe Button, but Webber wasn’t exactly waving him through and Button was running out of laps.

      • Patrickl said on 1st November 2009, 21:26

        Agreed. People keep dreaming that regulation changes is going to introduce masses of overtaking.

        Changing the regs might make overtaking easier again (for as long as that lasts), but you still need the opportunity for overtaking. The latter is just not there.

        • Xanathos said on 1st November 2009, 21:40

          You’re right, but that’s not what I’ve been saying ;)

          The race might have been a bit boring, but this time the track was not to blame. If everyone qualifies on race fuel and then dashes off for 2-3 sprints, seperated only by fuel stops, you won’t get masses of overtaking. You could have run this race with aero regs that would make overtaking easy and it wouldn’t have been much different (Only maybe that Button might have passed Webber easily).
          You just can’t help some races.

          A few weeks ago people complained right here because I said that the Suzuka race was extremely boring? Was this one better or worse???

          • Scribe said on 1st November 2009, 22:24

            Suzuka was pretty boring. However I think that next year when people are forced to overtake for position, the teams are going to go straight to their designers with that problem.

            Once you’ve got that bunch on your side then problems start to fade slightly

          • Anthony said on 1st November 2009, 23:59

            I agree the track was the problem here. A harpin before the straight was the issue. We see over taking when there is a high speed corner or two before a straight rather than a straight drag race.

          • Patrickl said on 2nd November 2009, 13:02

            You’re right, but that’s not what I’ve been saying

            Well in what respect is your reply different then?

            AFAIK I simply repeated your claim that there usually just isn’t much opportunity for overtaking.

  8. Lenny said on 1st November 2009, 16:53

    Did anyone hear Brundle at the end of the forum saying happy christmas just before it cut away to the credits? I nearly wet myself!

  9. three4three said on 1st November 2009, 16:55

    Not too boring a race as anticipated. Very impressed with Kobayashi again, him passing Button (albeit in a lighter car) the highlight of the race for me. :)
    Massively looking forward to next season, it’s going to be a long winter!

  10. sumedh said on 1st November 2009, 17:21

    On the Formula One Live Timing, when Alonso made his pitstop, they wrote: “Probably, his last stop for Renault”

    It is almost as if they are expecting some controversy happening next year, and he will yet again return to Renault. :D :D :D

    Good stuff from Kobayashi, he and Sato should be the only 2 Japanese drivers on the grid, no one else.

  11. steph90 said on 1st November 2009, 17:45

    Koby to Toyota next year I have heard:)

    • So, KOV & KOB in toyota next year?

      How was that?

      Kobalainen and Kovayasi?

      Kovayainen and Kobalasy?

      KOV&KOB sounds better!

    • Ned Flanders said on 1st November 2009, 20:59

      They need to put Koby and and Kovy in the Toyota, and Glo and Gro (Glock and Grosjean) in another team.

      Then they should turn Toro Rosso back into the all Sebastian superteam that it used to be, and make sure Nico Rosberg and Nico Hulkenburg are team mates somewhere, with Nick Heidfeld as 3rd driver, to create the Nico allstars!

      • steph90 said on 1st November 2009, 21:32

        Kub Kob Kov on the time sheets its like that word game where you change one letter each time…

        • Not as bad as (briefly) in 2006 where we had Montoya, Monteiro and Montagny all sharing the same track. I think they got around it by referring to them respectively as MOY, MON and MOT. But it was certainly confusing if you weren’t paying attention!

  12. Brian said on 1st November 2009, 17:49

    I love how Red Bull was competative this year. It made things more exciting,although it would have been even better if McLaren and Ferrari had been at their best from the start of the year.
    Next Year I believe will be more competative with four teams challenging, not just two, like this year. Brawn, McLaren, Ferrari, and Red Bull if the get a good engine deal will likely all be fighting it out next year.
    I just hope Red Bull don’t go with those junky Cosworths, I really want them to get a Ferrari or Merc engine.

  13. Hamilton probably would be second, because Webber lost performance after your first pit.

    • Patrickl said on 1st November 2009, 21:28

      If he had struggled on with the brake problem, that kept him from running away from Vettel during the first stint, you mean?

  14. I love this talk in the press conference:

    SV: I hear you are getting married.

    JB: Are you proposing?

    SV: I heard you will get married.

    JB: You know, they write great things in the press. Thank you for that one Seb, but I am going to enjoy this as we often look too far into the future and I want to just enjoy this moment and then I will look to the future after that.

  15. TommyB said on 1st November 2009, 18:33

    Shout out to Nick Heidfeld. Beat Kubica again and finished ahead of him in the championship. Beating another “superstar” and still probably won’t get a drive next year

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