Start, Abu DHabi, 2011

Hamilton wins after shock Vettel retirement

2011 Abu Dhabi GP reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Start, Abu DHabi, 2011
Start, Abu DHabi, 2011

Lewis Hamilton won his third race of the year after Sebastian Vettel surprisingly retired from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver pirouetted out of the race within moments of the start following a mystery puncture.

That opened the door for Hamilton, who led home Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button for victory.

Vettel spins out

The race took a dramatic turn within seconds of the start. Vettel got away cleanly and led into turn one untroubled by Hamilton behind.

But as he turned into the second corner the Red Bull snapped sideways and spun off, his right-rear tyre punctured. The field hammered by as Vettel dragged his car back onto the track and slowly around to the pits.

Driving a long, slow lap of Yas Marina caused suspension damage and Vettel’s race ended when he returned to his garage.

The lead of the race fell neatly into Hamilton’s hands, and behind him a frantic scrap for position handed him a 2.5-second lead by the end of the first lap.

Fernando Alonso picked off Mark Webber on the outside of turn one then set about attacking Jenson Button to claim second.

Button under attack

Hamilton maintained his advantage over Alonso while Button initially slipped back into the clutches of Mark Webber and Felipe Massa.

The McLaren driver began to draw away and his race engineer told him he was now safe from Webber in the DRS zone. But after a KERS problem developed on the McLaren Button came under pressure again.

Webber mounted an attack in the DRS zone, squeezing down the inside of Button at turn 11. But the McLaren driver responded, coming back on the inside of turn 14 to keep the position.

Shortly afterwards Felipe Massa was into the pits and this visit prompted several others to follow him. Hamilton, Alonso and Button all followed on the next lap.

McLaren coped well with pitting both their cars on the same lap, though Button got away slightly slowly due to a slow change on the right-rear tyre. But that was nothing compared to Webber, who had a very slow stop on his visit on the next lap, and temporarily dropped out of the battle for third.

Hamilton continued to manage a three-second lead over Alonso in the second stint, while Massa and Webber gradually closed in on the McLaren driver. Battle was joined between all three of them at roughly the same time, but as Webber began attacking Massa the pair fell back from Button again.

Webber’s strategy gamble

While most drivers stuck to a two-stop strategy, Red Bull gambled on a three-stop strategy to help get Webber in front of Massa and Button. He took a third set of option tyres and ran them until the penultimate lap of the race trying to build up a gap over the pair.

Massa spun off at turn one late in the race but it likely made no difference to the end result as Webber jumped the Ferrari. But Webber couldn’t build up enough of a gap over Button, whose KERS was now working, and who slotted back into third.

Alonso had two laps in the lead after Hamilton made his final pit stop. But despite spending longer on the soft tyres while Hamilton switched to the mediums, Alonso was unable to move ahead of the McLaren at the pit stops.

Nico Rosberg briefly ran third as he postponed his last pit stop, leaving him sixth ahead of his team mate. The other Mercedes driver pulled up with a puncture after taking the chequered flag.

He had been pursued by Adrian Sutil who finished just over a second behind him. The other Force India of Paul di Resta was ninth after pursuing an unconventional one-stop strategy, running a long first stint on medium tyres.

Buemi retires again

Di Resta spent the opening stint swapping places with Sebastien Buemi. The Toro Rosso driver repeatedly passed him in the first DRS zone, only for the Force India to come by in the second – a phenomenon repeated between other pairs of drivers. The matter was eventually settled when Di Resta ran wide at turn 11, handing the position to Buemi.

But the Toro Rosso driver’s race didn’t last much longer. For the second Grand Prix in a row his STR6 let him down.

Kamui Kobayashi claimed the final point. Like Di Resta, he started the race on the harder tyres but pitted earlier and had to pick his way through the slower cars – taking both HRTs in a single corner at one point.

Kobayashi’s single point – his first since the German Grand Prix – edges Sauber ahead of Toro Rosso in the battle for seventh in the constructors’ championship.

His Sauber team mate Sergio Perez was 11th ahead of Rubens Barrichello, who climbed his way up from the back row. Behind Vitaly Petrov in 13th was Pastor Maldonado, who fell foul of the stewards twice during the race.

On both occasions it was his driving while passing blue flags that was under question. He served one drive-through penalty for it and was under investigation for holding up Webber as the race ended.

Bruno Senna also picked up a penalty for holding up a car that was lapping him. He finished 16th behind Jaime Alguersuari. The Lotuses, Timo GLock and Vitantonio Liuzzi were the remaining finishers.

Daniel Ricciardo was a late retirement from the race having spent much of it ahead of his team mate.

Hamilton’s third win

A joyful Hamilton dedicated his victory to his mother. Despite an often difficult season, he has now won three races, as many as his team mate.

That leaves the way clear for McLaren to end the season in Brazil on a high after a rare moment of weakness by their biggest rivals.

2011 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images

158 comments on “Hamilton wins after shock Vettel retirement”

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  1. I have to say I really am not a big Hamilton fan, never have been!! I just dont think he is near enough good driver to some others out there!! He doesnt have the consistancy like Jenson, Alonso and Vettel have out there!! And its annoying for him to say things like “I wont be single for very long” Funny really as soon as he splits up with Nicole alls well. Somehow I can see the very opposite happening!

    One thing I did spot for the state of his tyres when he pulled up to stopped, they looked awful!!!

    I think its funny that in the top three teams there is huge difference in the lead drivers to the 2nd drivers, specifically Webber and Massa, not sure what is going on there but just nowhere near as good as thier teammates with the exact same car!

    All in all wasnt a very interesting race for me, gutted Vettel went out!! But am agreeing with this “one car overtakes and then the one behind retakes again”. This DRS is just new to me as I am new to watching F1 so just trying to learn what the benefits are. It makes for a very predicable race!

    1. I think the reason Hamilton’s tyres looked as awful as they did is because he picked up tyre marbles on the way to the pits, to make his car slightly heavier.

    2. state of his tyres was “pick up” where they drive off line after the race has finished to pick up dicarded rubber

      1. Yeah I thought the same, but I didn’t notice on the other cars of Jensen and Alonso.

  2. I doubt Vettel would have been for long under pressure from hamilton had he not retired, but I don’t like cheering when a rival of my favourite drivers crashes: I want to see him beaten. Without Vettel we saw a “surprise” winner, but I feel sorry for Vettel.

  3. Fernando Alonso impressed me the most today. Lewis got the glory, and he deserved it after the mess he has been in, but Alonso stole the show.
    When looking at the Ferrari’s performance on Friday and Saturday, I have to say that I never expected Ferrari to challenge today.
    It was no surprise to see Hamilton so strong at Abu Dhabi, the previous two years he has driven well there, but Fernando’s achievement of nailing Webber and Button early was very impressive.
    Shame for Jenson. Obviously he had problems during the grands prix but his multiple scraps with Webber were the ‘wheel to wheel’ highlight of the race for me. Great driving from both men and a joy to watch!

  4. I noticed on the Vettel replay that He`s front wheel went into the slight gulley that was on the first corner curb, supposing that it is probable that He`s rear right followed that track an Vettel saying He felt it go when changing to 4th an turning left into turn 2 it sounds like a side wall failure due to low tyre pressure.

  5. Alonso drove fantastically today, no doubt but I can’t help feeling Massa is making him look even better than he is and the Ferrari isn’t that terrible a car. It has trouble on the harder tyres but he kept Hamilton honest for the first 45 or so laps, although admittedly Hamilton may have had some pace up his sleeve.

    Alonso now has 10 podiums, Massa hasn’t finished higher than 5th. That really isn’t good enough.

  6. Why is everyone taking the glory away from hamilton, it was a great drive by alonso no doubt, but was by hamilton aswell, tbh i dont see a difference in performance between the two today. You cant say alonso overtook people at the start and ham didnt because webber is not a strong starter and button had no kers, people need to read the race as it was. the ferrari on race day is just as fast as the mclaren. if you had two webbers in the red bull you would say that its the 3rd fastest car out there.

    1. Really? JB’s KER’s went out before turn 2? Hamilton did a faultless drive, I’ll agree. If he did less I’ve turn on him in a heartbeat. But Alonso did pass a number of people and defend his position for a number of laps. Not to mention his car’s number three (barely) defending against a strong number 1 car and number 2 car.
      To ameliorate the situation, Hamilton did show his strength in a strong car, I won’t disagree with that, but Alonso’s passing and defending himself kinda shows something else…….

    2. The same reason that Vettel hardly ever gets credit for his wins – dominating a race from start to finish doesn’t seem to be impressive.
      And JB said his KERS went out around lap 12

    3. It’s to be expected!!!!

  7. Interesting comments from the Speed boys on the Speed replay. What about Seb broke the bead on the wheel/tire run during the start? I had a friend who had a Mach 2 Mustang with ‘extras’ dialed in, he did the same on a south Texas asphalt road, burning out till the asphalt ‘melted’ and he rotated the wheels inside the tires, breaking the beads and winding up with two flats 100yds past the start line. Would explain his lightening starts. FWIW (for what it’s worth……..)

  8. The thing is, DRS is never going to work, I fully believe that now.

    Last year when the idea was pitched I was dead against its artificialness. However, I came around to the argument that the aero wake causes “artificial defending” so gave it a chance. I was pretty pleased with it and defended it even after Turkey, pointing out that the tyre differences amplified its effect.

    But after today, I think the whole thing needs to go, even if we end up with 2010 non-overtakes again. The problem is, it can be tuned to the FIA’s heart’s content, but it will always be flawed. A 400m zone might be perfect for a car that is naturally 3mph faster in the speed trap than the one in front, but what about one which is only 1mph faster? Or 3mph slower? No wonder there’s always at least one incident of it being too easy and another not enough.

    Beyond that, the placements are just stupid. Coming with a device meant to cancel the aero problem and then putting two, one after the other, so a driver who is slower can cruise back up again and hold the car up for another lap, we’re just back to Square 1. It took a few drivers several attempts to realise they had to hold off in the first zone to get the second zone, which is the ultimate irony: not overtaking when you have your overtaking aid on.

    The only way DRS is ever going to work is if it is put on the small straights, letting the cars stay close to each other before coming up to the main overtaking zones. Alternatively, a following car could use it anywhere they wanted but the angle would be limited to give a smaller effect, say 1mph, again keeping the car close and countering the dirty air (or even shake up the whole formula and remove the over-dependence on aero, too many vested interests for that though). But that’s not going to happen. The FIA and FOM are happy enough with the easy passing.

    I dislike it when people say “X is ruining F1, I’m not going to watch anymore”. But with the increased durability of the Pirellis, the disappearance of falling off the cliff with grip coupled with the increasing reliance on DRS for overtaking, I’m definitely less excited for next year than I was for this.

    1. I have to admit I didn’t see the race, but based on earlier experiences, I think the double DRS-zone is the worst invention of the year. Unfortunately, the races have become increasingly more boring during the season, because of badly-chosen DRS-zones and the team’s ability to adapt to the tyres. I expect the allocation of the DRS-zones will be better next year and I hope Pirelli will bring softer tyres for 2012, so the races will be fun watching again.

    2. I think DRS has worked wonders at Abu Dhabi – but whether two DRS zones almost right after each other was a smart thing or not remains to be said. I think without DRS we would find the same situation as in 2010 – with Alonso stuck behind Petrov. The naturally quicker cars pretty much always stayed ahead of the slower cars in the two DRS zones, but with cars on the same speeds it was cancelling out somewhat. I think without DRS, Yas Marina would be even more boring. To me the final sector of the track (after the second DRS zone) is a one car precession – just look at some of the back markers getting in the way of the front runners.

      1. If the car was “naturally” quick a competant driver would pass the one in front. DRS encourages drivers to wait to overtake in the zones rather than do what every karter does ie. drive tactically, apply pressure, and wait for the moment wherever or whatever it is.

        1. DRS encourages drivers to wait…

          Then why isn’t all the overtaking just done in the DRS zones only? There has been many instances of overtaking outside of the DRS zone this year. It’s the situation of allowing two equally fast cars have an opportunity to overtake rather than just a precession and seeing who will make a mistake. Also, let’s not forget that the driver behind still needs to drive tactically to get themselves into position for DRS to activate.

          In reference to a “naturally” quicker car, I was stipulating that the 2nd DRS zone had little impact to a naturally quicker car compared to another that wasn’t. Nevertheless, I’m not in favor to a double DRS with the 2nd DRS zone being placed so close to the 1st zone.

  9. ” The other Mercedes driver” how’s that for a slap in the face!?

  10. Hamilton continued to manage a three-second lead over Alonso in the second stint, while Massa and Webber gradually closed in on the McLaren driver.

    This sentence suggests “the McLaren driver” is Hamilton, but I guess it’s Button?

  11. If you pause the BBC footage you can actually see Flavio Briatore on a grassy knoll next to the entry to turn 2 with what looks like a stinger from Road Wars. On the HD version you can even see the betting slip in his pocket.

    1. Darn, (a friendlier term than what I would normally use) I wrote about grassy knolls earlier and deleted it! I bow to your authorships magnificence!. (Did you know that area is named after my boyhoods hero’s father? Just a data point….)

  12. Alonsomatic (@the0506alonsomatic)
    14th November 2011, 1:04

    Alonso must be thinking that this is the result he should’ve had last year….Another great drive. He is always pushing whatever car he drives to the limit and this time he was on the podium. Like he said, the only trophy missing from any circuit was this one and he got it!

    1. how ironic that he lapped Petrov this year around.

  13. When Hamilton makes mistakes the world points at him. Today he won the race convincingly and there are some comments diminishing his victory. This is ridiculous. When Vettel dominate the race he’s espetacular, brilliant. Lewis did the same thing today and he was not brilliant?? He drove a perfect race to hold off Alonso. Also, Lewis was the most consistent driver of the weekend.

    Button on his top performance won the same number of races that Hamilton on his worst.

    1. The reason people are not calling his victory spectacular is almost certainly due to Seb retiring. It’s understandable, this season he has been the yard stick for all other drivers and winning a race without him there to be beaten on track is likely to diminish the reaction of the viewers. I recall something similar with Rossi in the MotoGP some years back when he crashed out and couldn’t compete to defend his championship. Everyone was saying ‘what if’.

      The other drivers are unlikely to admit it but the fans want to see the best drivers competing. When Lewis took the fight to Fernando in 2007 it was special because FA was the world champion and Lewis was the up and coming rookie with huge promise. He didn’t fall into a McLaren seat by accident he had a great talent to back him up. Lewis was given huge praise for matching one of the best drivers F1 has seen.

      When JB won his world championship he was widely criticised because he had won with such a dominant car in the early season and no one was able to measure him against Fernando in the lacklustre Renault, Lewis in the terrible (at the start) McLaren) or Kimi in the equally awful Ferrari. There is an element of truth to all this, plenty of people said stick Lewis in that Brawn and he’d wipe the floor with Jenson and yet the last two years have proven JB to actually be a very fast and competent driver. No he doesn’t have the raw speed Lewis has, I don’t think many would claim he does but he has excellent race craft and he has been a match for Lewis over a season where the young lad has had a lot of trouble to deal with off the track. Lewis will learn from this season and will be stronger for it in the future.

      Is this win special? Yes, it shows Lewis is heading back in the right direction, he had a great weekend and capped it with a measured and mature win.
      Is it less special because Sebastian was forced to retire? Yes, because people with wonder what could have been.

      1. Apologies nefor, this post was meant SimS.
        Your post was very well reasoned & even handed.

    2. This is not true. When Seb wins, the race is usually regarded as a borefest & that he only won because he;s in the best car or his team mate was nobbled etc..
      You only have to look at the “rate the race” table to see that the top 6 are mostly the races he did’nt win.
      With the number of races that he has won he has rarely been voted DOTW.

  14. Good race from Hamilton he needed that,he lost his momentum in the middle of the season now he is back & back with a bang.Hope his smile in this race stay with him for 2012.Good battle between the two Mercedes in the opening sequences of corner also between Webber & Button.Also Force India carries it’s momentum,the double DRS zone was a failure in this race,FIA need to look at it in the future & only should have one DRS.

  15. Brilliant victory by Lewis, its nice to see tha he is back. also Alonso did a good race. I hope to see both fighting for the championship next year.

    And about Mercedes, I dont know what you think but it was quite embarrasing to see a Mercedes(Schumacher) “losing pieces”. It has been an awful weekend for Schumi, with top-speed problems, rear wing problems, losing pieces and finally a puncture. Its at least strange, isnt it??? :(

  16. Victory for Hamilton as Vettel spins out

    Hamilton voted THAT puncture as “heard prayer of the weekend”

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