Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Review
Who would have thought it? Not only did we have a super exciting Grand Prix weekend in Abu Dhabi but it might even go down as a classic! I was watching with a bit of a hangover and honestly couldn’t keep up with all the action; driver errors, crashes, safety cars, mechanical failures, penalties and a returning former world champion making it the 8th different race winner of the season.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Review Qualifying
The excitement all started at the end of qualifying on Saturday when Sebastian Vettel stopped on track and didn’t make it back to the pits. Many hours later, the FIA released a statement that Sebastian Vettel’s car did not have the required one litre of fuel left in the tank to produce a sample. This meant that Sebastian was disqualified from qualifying and would start in last place similar to Lewis Hamilton back at the Spanish GP. In other qualifying news, Lewis Hamilton totally dominated all sessions and all sectors with both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso struggling back in 6th and 7th.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Review Race day
After the drama on Saturday night, Red Bull made the decision to take Vettel’s car out of parc ferme and start from the pit lane. They changed his gearbox, gear ratios and a few other things to try and help him overtake.
The race started well, Webber had a horrible start and Raikkonen flew past both Webber and Maldonado to take second place tucked in just behind Hamilton. There was contact further back and Alonso once again proved his worth by getting up into fourth.
Webber had a torrid time after the poor start; he tried to pass Maldonado who was struggling with tyres and for some reason expected him to yield but ended up wheel to wheel and shunted off the track. Shortly afterwards he did the exact same thing with Felipe Massa and this time re-joined the track right alongside Massa which saw the Brazilian panic and spin trying to avoid the Red Bull. It went from bad to worse, with the team forcing him to pit and move out of Vettel’s way. Finally Webber was put out of his misery as Perez hit Grosjean who subsequently hit Webber.
After taking the lead from a retired Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen was the man in front and some great radio exchanges with his mechanic ensued. After being told the gap to Alonso behind, the Iceman just requested to be left alone and when the second safety car was out promptly told his mechanic that he didn’t need to be told about keeping tyres warm because he knew what he was doing. There was slight pressure towards to end of the race from Fernando Alonso but Kimi looked comfortable and took his first win since returning to Formula One. This also meant that the Lotus team took their first win since Fernando Alonso was driving under the Renault guise.
Alonso once again put in a stellar performance after a poor qualifying, making up places as he always seems to do without having a particularly quick car. A great second place enabled him to claw back some points against Vettel for what will surely be a last race title decider in Brazil.
What a disappointing result for Lewis Hamilton, he was in a class of his own all day Saturday in both free practice and qualifying. Starting on pole position, Lewis got the perfect getaway and was soon streaking away from Kimi Raikkonen who had moved up to second place. A brief mistake locking up with cold brakes allowed Kimi to get really close, as did the first safety car, but each time Lewis was able to pull away with consummate ease and lap quicker than the rest of the field while effectively cruising. There was only one thing which was going to stop Lewis from a dominating victory and that was a mechanical failure; unfortunately that was exactly what happened. Similar to Singapore, the McLaren lost drive and coasted to a frustrating stop at the side of the track.
I think Lewis has driven brilliantly this season with the only mistake I can remember was battling a little too hard against Maldonado in Valencia. Without the mechanical and pit stop issues this season the championship would look a whole lot different. I have no doubt Hamilton can’t wait until the end of the season and a move to Mercedes. A fresh start, fresh team and of course car.
You know that this was a great race as during interview Lewis said that it’s ok that he had to retire because it meant he got to watch the rest of the race!
It seems that even on a weekend where everything goes wrong for Sebastian Vettel, he still manages to find enough luck to get him onto the podium. Even during the race Sebastian was involved in a collision with Grosjean and damaged his front wing, then under safety car conditions he managed to misread Ricciardo warming his brakes up and had to take evasive action wiping out the DRS sign which meant his wing needed replacing. Having pitted early, Vettel was able to jump a whole host of cars when they made their first pit stop. Everyone was then wondering whether Vettel could make it to the end of the race and perhaps even win being in second place behind Raikkonen. This didn’t materialise and Red Bull played it safe by pitting Vettel for fresh tyres but importantly keeping him ahead of Grosjean, Massa, Maldonado and a few others who had been battling hard all evening.
During this phase of the race Vettel had closed up to Mark Webber and after Mark had been told to let Vettel pass, he was soon told to pit which kept him out of the way. The luck really came then with another safety car, the deficit to Button was wiped out and Vettel would restart after the safety car with a fresh set of option tyres. Button battled for several laps but eventually was overcome and Sebastian took the last place on the podium. It is amazing that Sebastian went from last to third yet overtaking Button is the only pass I can remember! Hamilton was quoted this morning saying that Vettel was the luckiest driver in F1.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Results
- Kimi Raikkonen
- Fernando Alonso
- Sebastian Vettel
- Jenson Button
- Pastor Maldonado
- Kamui Kobayashi
- Felipe Massa
- Bruno Senna
- Paul di Resta
- Daniel Ricciardo
I don’t think anyone out there would have predicted a Kimi win but I did say that Vettel wouldn’t win and were it not for retirement; Lewis Hamilton would have almost certainly won. The number of retirements in the race seemed like the most for quite a while now and that certainly mixed things up a little. With only Ferrari and Williams finishing both cars in the points, it is that reliability which has helped Fernando Alonso so much this season. Have Ferrari made a mistake all season with Fernando Alonso? There isn’t one that I can remember!
With ten points between Fernando and Sebastian and with two races left including the unknown quantity of the USA Grand Prix in two weeks, it should be a fantastic title battle and one you should definitely watch!