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. the truth said on 1st November 2009, 19:32

    lewis Hamilton 2010 Champion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Wohooooo…;)

    • marcus said on 1st November 2009, 21:22

      no chance… vettel or Alonso for 2010 WDC because Lewis wont have KERS for the long straights to help him out.

      Also Lewis cant maintain tyres for love nor money so he wont win anything in 2010 if he cant stop driving it around like a Go-kart. Tyre ware will be the biggest factor next year and it doesnt matter how fast he can go in his Mclaren if he has to pit every 10 laps for tyres because he cant stop locking his brakes.

      • Patrickl said on 1st November 2009, 21:33

        You might have missed that Hamilton had a brake problem. actually even retired because of it …

        Vettel couldn’t win the WDC in the fastest car with only Button and Barrichello as his opponents.

        Lets assume that next year McLaren and Ferrari will have good cars again on the same level as Red Bull (if not better). How on earth is Vettel going to beat Hamilton, Raikkonen/Heidfeld, Alonso and Massa?

        • Dennis said on 1st November 2009, 22:00

          Well the Red Bull wasn’t the fastest car in the first 9 races or so. Remember, there was this entire battle over the double diffusers and the KERS system. The RBR had neither in the first few races where the Brawn did. Besides, the RBR was struggling with the pace on high temperature tracks as well. Sure, he made a few mistakes Alonso probably wouldn’t have made but he’s not been in F1 for long and he’s impressive in every team so far. Winning in a Toro Rosso and now winning 4 races for RBR (a team that didn’t win one race before he arrived) and finishing second in the championship in his first year with the new team. More importantly, the team as a whole is looking very strong. Adrian Newey is probably the best designer and Vettel is one of the best drivers and apparently he can communicate pretty well with the team. All in all, he made some mistakes (especially in the beginning of the season) and had some bad luck with the engines at times and you’re right if you’re saying he shouldn’t make those mistakes again if he wants to beat Alonso and Hamilton next year but there is no question about wether he can do it, the question is when.

          • Patrickl said on 2nd November 2009, 13:07

            Well the Red Bull wasn’t the fastest car in the first 9 races or so.

            China? Bahrein? Turkey? Silverstone? Germany?

            That’s 5 out of the first 9 where they were flat out fastest!

            Besides in Australia and Malaysia they were the first ones behind Brawn and in Spain and Monaco they (potentially) had the same pace as the Brawns.

        • marcus said on 1st November 2009, 23:26

          I think you missed that Hamilton does lock his brakes up………….alot infact, so it’s not my problem that the “Ex” world champion Lewis Hamilton cant use his brakes properly.

          And i think you also missed Vettel didnt have a double decker diffuser at the start thats how Button and Rubens got so far infront.

          I also think you missed jenson and Rubens had no rivals for the first 7 races. unlike when Webber and Vettel started to take points away and catch up in the second half of the season, all the cars improved alot making it 5x harder to score points.

          And lets assume Red bull get the mercedes engine in 2010, Red bull would still have a better package then mclaren. And whats stopping Red Bull making the best car next year again? Vettel is a the next star of Formula 1 and the Hamilton fans are scared of his ability.

          Vettel’s first year in a decent car and he gets 2nd, the same as Hamilton. Vettel even had terrible luck this year and made bad choices “Aus missed 8-6 points” “Monaco could of got another 4-3 points” “Valencia not his fault 2 engine blow ups Renaults fault another 4-6 points lost”

          Vettel has been unlucky this year and Brawn with the diffuser loop hole were lucky not to get points deducted. vettel will be ready to fight in 2010 for real now, the field is level no KERS no advantages so bring it.

          And i tell you what Massa, Alonso and Rosberg have got better chances then Hamilton next year since they can maintain their tyres and not destroy their brakes within 5 laps as today proved by Lewis.

          Lewis Hamilton has become a joke now, he wont get in the top 5 in 2010 because he doesn’t have the experience with Heavy fuel loads and he always is a light, fast front runner. and dont bother saying he can overtake other cars, he could only overtake this year because he had the KERS advantage helping him out 90% of the time.

          Hamilton was lucky to get 5th this year since Massa would of beat him if he didn’t get injured. Because Ferrari would of kept on improving the car if Massa was still around, so Kimi would of beat Lewis to 6th, and your mate “Lewser Flopilton” would of been 7th.

          Maybe lewis should think going to NASCAR since they dont have to brake as hard around the corners……….

          So whats the matter, scared that your boy Hamilton is being outclassed by a better driver that’s younger?

          • djdaveyp said on 2nd November 2009, 13:09

            There’s some sour grapes in this post :D

            We will see next year who is the better driver. Just as we will see who has the best car.

            McLaren run a very stiff setup, you quite often see lewis’ and heikki’s inside wheel lock up because it is barely touching the ground, it hardly does any damage to the tyres. If the wheels were locked up by bad braking, both wheels would be locked up and the driver would overshoot the apex.

            Last year, the problems Lewis had with his tyres wearing fast were caused by the car being really bad on its tyres not the driver. You will have noticed this year that the red bull is quite hard on its tyres, which is why they have been lacking pace sometimes late in their stints. They seem to have solved this problem somewhat throughout the season.

            As for Brawn being luck for not having points deducted, I really don’t get your point – this defuser was proved legal. The teams that decided not to use it challenged it because they didn’t understand this rule properly.

            Also the red bull car was very fast even without the double diffuser, in fact they won their first race this season without the double diffuser.

            You should maybe think about the facts before making this kind of statement.

            Obviously you are a Vettel fan, let me be the first to say he is a great young driver, with huge potential. He has however yet to demonstrate his ability to overtake and he fairly finished second this year beating Barrichello, who had a better car for most of the season, so well done to him for that. He made too many mistakes this season, and we haven’t seen the best of him, so just like Lewis Hamilton in his first season, he finished second after taking too many risks and making too many mistakes. However Lewis only lost out by 1 point so maybe tha makes Lewis a better driver – not only was it his first season in a fast car – it was his first season in F1, whereas Vettel is in his third season.

            I think there is alot more to come from Vettel, but maybe a driver like Alonso, Raikkonen, Massa or Hamilton would have won the championship in that car?

            We can all speculate!

          • Patrickl said on 2nd November 2009, 13:18

            I also think you missed jenson and Rubens had no rivals for the first 7 races. unlike when Webber and Vettel started to take points away and catch up in the second half of the season, all the cars improved alot making it 5x harder to score points.

            Same reply to you. China? Bahrein? Turkey? Silverstone? Germany?

            That’s 5 out of the first 9 where they were flat out fastest! Vettel made poor starts/no overtaking/driving errors so he lost several of those races to Button.

            Besides in Australia and Malaysia the red Bulls were the first ones behind Brawn and in Spain and Monaco they (potentially) had the same pace as the Brawns.

            Yet Vettel spun off in Malaysia, was unable to overtake again in Spain, messed up the tyres and eventually blundered into a wall in Monaco.

            He still did drive the fastest car and should really have been ahead or very close behind Button.

            Vettel had trouble beating Webber. I doubt he can match up to Alonso or Hamilton in an equal car.

            Vettel is very fast though. If he can one day learn to crash less and overtake cars he would indeed become a championship contender (in a normal season) too.

          • Harv's said on 2nd November 2009, 22:10

            lewis does not know how to use his brakes? is this your first f1 season?

            maybe you should watch the 07′ italian gp, and his move on kimi, after you watch that i bet you wont be able to say “cant use his brakes”, it show he has huge natural brake feel ability,

            you cant win a championship with out knowing how to use your brakes.

      • djdaveyp said on 2nd November 2009, 12:53

        And what did Vettel do to his tyres in monaco?

    • Salty said on 1st November 2009, 21:51

      Probably a little early for that. Not even Lewis knows what his car next year will drive like.

      Fact is:
      Poor car, no chance.
      Good car, chance.
      Good car, good driver, good chance.

      The best drivers are in the best teams because they will provide income in terms of sponsor and WCC payment returns. Simply, they will maximise the potential of the car.

      Does the car win races? Without a good driver – no (sorry, but Heikki is a good example).

      Can a good driver win in a mediocre car? No – Alonso this year.

      So F1 needs great drivers in great cars. Some cars are better. Some drivers are better. That makes it a sport, and that is why we are here.

      • Scribe said on 1st November 2009, 22:33

        Midfeild cars can occasionaly win, the thing is this years Renault is awful. Alonso is basically making it a midfielder.

        Buttons first win was in a very average car.

  2. Mussolini's Pet Cat said on 1st November 2009, 19:38

    A superb location, shame (as expected) the race was rather dull. Only Button & Webber’s tussle at the end made it interesting…..

  3. i thought that it looked a fantastic circuit. yes the race was not all that great but it was much better than alot of races this year and that includes Silverstone which i went to and given the choice i would have rather have been watching in the warm desert evening than a cold silverstone.

    • well said…

      opps how dare you say that about the fabled Silverstone airport, that looks as if it’s been falling apart since when ever I started watching f1.

      Silverstone race was very boring but then again so was Barcelona, and Valencia…the worst being Monza.
      3 of the worst races were on ‘classic’ traditionally used tracks.

      This track has potential and did allow for overtaking and I dont know if I was watching a different race than everyone else, but I saw a more passing here than some of the other tracks used this year.

      Thanks to Brawn for the DDD and the utter non-sense that caused not only to teams following the spirit of the rules and the other that were told by the same body of officials that it wasn’t legal(FIA) then was after all cars were designed…and all the dirty air it created.

      Lets not forget all the Brawn and co fans and how they were labeled them geniousness…for totally destroying all the possibilities of better racing that they alone stole from us.

      RBR should feel cheated as they not only had a car that could compete with out the DDD but then also killed the field with a DDD baring their own mistakes.

  4. wasiF1 said on 3rd November 2009, 7:59

    That battle between Webber & Button really highlighted the race,what a way to end the season.

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