Vettel grabs title as Alonso and Webber falter

2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix review

Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Abu Dhabi, 2010

Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Abu Dhabi, 2010

Sebastian Vettel is the 2010 Formula 1 world champion after winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

He was aided by rivals Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber pitting early and getting stuck in traffic and finishing in seventh and eighth.

The two McLaren drivers joined Vettel on the podiums.

Vettel made a clean start from pole position, while Lewis Hamilton tried and failed to squeeze through at the first corner.

Behind them Jenson Button also got away smartly to take third from Alonso.

But the race only lasted a few cars before the safety car came out following an alarming collision between Michael Schumacher and Vitantonio Liuzzi, which ended with the Force India perched on top of the Mercedes.

Schumacher spun while trying to pass team mate Nico Rosberg at the exit of turn six – the pair did not make contact – leaving Liuzzi with nowhere to go.

It took several laps to clear the wreckage away, during which time Rosberg, Vitaly Petrov, Jaime Alguersuari, Christian Klien, Bruno Senna and Lucas di Grassi all pitted to discarad the super-soft tyres they had started on for mediums. This was to have a significant role in deciding the outcome of the race – and the championship.

Ferrari react to Webber

After the restart Vettel and Hamilton pulled away from Button, while Alonso dropped back with Webber and Massa behind him.

Webber was clearly struggling on the super-soft tyres and made an early pit stop on lap 12 to get on the mediums, falling behind several cars that didn’t have to make further pit stops.

At first Ferrari reacted by bringing Massa in. But even though Webber took two laps to pass Jaime Alguersuari, he was able to keep his position ahead of Massa.

The next time by Ferrari brought Alonso in. He came out ahead of Webber – but behind Petrov, who proved a tougher nut to crack than Ferrari expected.

The leading trio of Vettel, Hamilton and Button stayed out, trying to build enough of a gap over Kamui Kobayashi and Robert Kubica.

McLaren eventually gave up and brought Hamilton in, sending him out on track behind the Renault and Sauber. Unfortunately for Hamilton he was held up as Kubica chose this moment to muscle past Kobayashi around the outside.

Hamilton picked off Kobayashi but got stuck behind Kubica. That allowed Vettel to make his pit stop and stay in front of Kubica, building up a ten-second advantage over Hamilton.

Button stayed out until lap 39, before pitting and coming out behind Hamilton, who was still stuck behind Kubica.

Alonso stuck behind Petrov

He wasn’t the only driver struggling to pass a Renault – Alonso was still stuck behind Petrov. He made one attempt that ended with him going off at turn 11, though Webber wasn’t close enough to capitalise.

The time he lost behind Petrov meant that Kubica eventually had a large enough gap to make his pit stop and get out in front of Alonso. This he did on lap 46. Alonso was now in seventh, needing to pass Petrov, Rosberg and Kubica to keep Vettel from the title.

He was giving it his all – running off the track again at turn 17 when he made another attempt – but this was how the championship slipped out of Alonso’s grasp.

Vettel takes the title

Vettel, up front, was unaware that he’d been in a position to win the championship for much of the race – his team only told him about the points situation after he crossed the line.

After 55 laps of Yas Marina, Vettel crossed the line to win his fifth Grand Prix of 2010.

And a few seconds later, the team told him he had also won the 2010 world championship.

He was followed home by the two McLarens – Hamilton unable to reduce Vettel’s lead after Kubica pitted.

Kubica finished fifth behind Rosberg and one place ahead of his team mate. Alonso, seventh, saw a potential third world championship slip through his fingers by just four points. He shook his fist at Petrov on his way back to the pits.

Long-term championship leader Webber was eighth, falling to third in the world championship. Massa never managed to find a way past Alguersuari and ended the race in tenth behind the Toro Rosso.

Outside the points were Heidfeld, Barrichello, Sutil, Kobayashi, Buemi and H???lkenberg, followed by top new team driver Kovalainen, ahead of di Grassi, Senna and Klien.

Jarno Trulli was classified last but retired four laps from the flag when his rear wing fell off.

For the second weekend in a row, Red Bull celebrate a championship victory – first the constructors’ championship, and now the drivers’ title.

Remarkably, it’s not their driver who had the most point going into this weekend who won the title – it was Sebastian Vettel, Germany’s new world champion.

2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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