Both Renault drivers used new engines for the last race of the season – the only drivers on the grid to enjoy this advantage.
That helped Robert Kubica to make passes on Adrian Sutil and Kamui Kobayashi.
And it aided Vitaly Petrov’s surprising 40-lap position defence from Fernando Alonso.
|Robert Kubica||Vitaly Petrov|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q2)||1’40.780 (+0.122)||1’40.658|
Seemed downcast about his car on Friday, saying:
It?óÔé¼Ôäós tricky to find a nice balance on the car here, because the off-camber corners are frustrating to drive and the high rear degradation means the car oversteers quite a lot.
The sparkle wasn’t there in qualifying either, as he failed to make the cut for Q3 and was beaten by his team mate for only the second time in 19 races this year.
That at least gave him a free tyre choice and he started the race on the medium tyre.
After the restart he made a vital pass around the outside of Adrian Sutil to take ninth.
On lap 25 he did much the same to Kamui Kobayashi to take third.
That gave him the opportunity to pull out an advantage over Alonso while withstanding pressure from Lewis Hamilton. He did lose some time keeping Hamilton back, potentially enough to cost him fourth place to Nico Rosberg:
I had a problem with a clutch at the start, and I was running in 14th position after turn two. When the Safety Car went in, I managed to overtake Sutil, which was important.
I then found myself stuck behind Kamui, who was braking very late which made it difficult to attack him. Eventually, I got a run on him out of turn nine and he covered the inside for turn 11 ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ so I was able to pass round the outside.
That was a key moment, and afterwards I just concentrated on getting the maximum from the car and setting quick laps.
The car was still difficult to drive this afternoon, but I pushed really hard because I had nothing to lose ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ and I?óÔé¼Ôäóm very pleased to finish fifth after starting 11th.
While Kubica struggled with his car, Petrov said he was much happier with his balance and beat his team mate to tenth on the grid:
The car has felt pretty good all weekend for me. We have made progress in each session, especially with the feel of the brakes, which is very important at this circuit, and it felt like all the parts of the package were working well today.
The team used the safety car period to switch him to medium tyres, leaving him down in 18th. He began the restart behind Rosberg but within three laps of the restart, having worked past the Lotuses and Virgins, he was five seconds behind the Mercedes.
On lap 16 Fernando Alonso appeared in his mirrors having pitted, and Petrov was thrust into a starring role in the championship deciding race:
I had a long battle with Fernando, but the car had good top speed today so I was able to control the situation: I just did my job.
If he had tried a move, then I didn?óÔé¼Ôäót want to crash with him, but it didn?óÔé¼Ôäót come to that. I came here to fight, and race every other driver, and I think I showed today that I can fight.
Petrov never put a wheel wrong as he endured almost 40 laps of pressure from the double world champion.
By finishing sixth to Kubica’s fifth the team scored 18 points, matching their best result of the season (Kubica’s second place in Melbourne).
2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
- 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: the complete F1 Fanatic race weekend review
- Drivers’ and teams’ end-of-season photographs
- Alonso’s role in Ferrari strategy revealed in pit messages
- Hamilton: McLaren learned a lot in 2010
- Button vows to address qualifying weakness
- Vettel ends season on a high to snatch title
- Ferrari hit back at criticism of race strategy
- McLaren rediscover their form at final race
- New engines help Renault to best result of 2010
- Schumacher not blaming Rosberg for crash