Hamilton benefits from Vettel’s puncture to win

Lewis Hamilton took his third victory of the season at the Yas Marina circuit following the retirement of Sebastian Vettel who suffered a puncture on the opening lap.

It had been a tough couple of months for the McLaren driver, following his public break-up from his Pussycat Doll girlfriend and his collisions with Felipe Massa, so this victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was a much welcome relief.

Fernando Alonso was a close second for Ferrari, with Jenson Button completing the podium despite KERS issues on his McLaren.

Vettel made a good start from pole position but approaching the second corner, his Red Bull went into a wild spin due to a result of a deflated right-rear tyre.

The world champion tried to nurse his car back to the pits, but the flailing rubber had already done too much damage to the rear suspension, so Vettel posted his first retirement since last year’s Korean Grand Prix.

That put Hamilton into the lead, with Alonso in second having passed Mark Webber’s Red Bull at the start and then gone around the outside of Button at the end of the back straight to secure second.

There was little to choose between the McLaren and Ferrari for most of the rest of the race – with the gap never more than a second. The Scuderia tried to gain an advantage by running longer before Alonso’s second pit-stop, but to no avail, and in the final stint Hamilton’s lead grew to more comfortable levels as the 2008 world champion headed towards his third victory in an often-troubled 2011 season.

After losing time with a stubborn wheel at his first pit-stop, Webber tried to regain lost ground with a three-stop strategy that saw the Australian only change to the harder Pirellis on the very last lap.

That did not allow him to beat Button – with whom he had battled fiercely for much of the Grand Prix – but Webber did take fourth, helped by Felipe Massa’s challenge fading when the Ferrari had a spin with six laps to the chequered flag. The Brazilian quickly rejoined to take fifth position.

The Silver Arrows of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher had a spectacular early battle, won by the younger German, who went on to take sixth. Schumacher narrowly beat Force India’s Adrian Sutil to seventh place. Sutil’s team-mate Paul di Resta and Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber completed the points scorers, the former pulling off a one-stop strategy.

Just outside the top ten, Rubens Barrichello ended the Williams team’s awful weekend on a slightly brighter note by charging from the back of the grid to P12, right on the back of Sauber’s Sergio Perez and ahead of Vitaly Petrov’s Renault.

As for Pastor Maldonado, the Williams driver received a drive-through penalty for ignoring blue flags but managed to finish the race in P14.

Jaime Alguersuari took P15 for Toro Rosso ahead of the Renault-powered cars of Bruno Senna, Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli. With Timo Glock finished in P19 for Virgin Racing followed by the Hispania of Vitantonio Liuzzi.

So a great result for Lewis Hamilton and McLaren. It shows Sebastian Vettel is fallible despite his record-breaking success in his championship year. The Brazilian Grand Prix is the final race of the season and it will be fascinating who will take the runner-up spot between Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber.

Race results from Yas Marina, 55 laps:

1.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes           1h37:11.886
2.  Alonso        Ferrari                    +8.457
3.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes           +25.881
4.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault           +35.784
5.  Massa         Ferrari                    +50.578
6.  Rosberg       Mercedes                   +52.317
7.  Schumacher    Mercedes                   +1:15.900
8.  Sutil         Force India-Mercedes       +1:17.100
9.  Di Resta      Force India-Mercedes       +1:40.000
10.  Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari             +1 lap
11.  Perez         Sauber-Ferrari             +1 lap
12.  Barrichello   Williams-Cosworth          +1 lap
13.  Petrov        Renault                    +1 lap
14.  Maldonado     Williams-Cosworth          +1 lap
15.  Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1 lap
16.  Senna         Renault                    +1 lap
17.  Kovalainen    Lotus-Renault              +1 lap
18.  Trulli        Lotus-Renault              +2 laps
19.  Glock         Virgin-Cosworth            +2 laps
20.  Liuzzi        HRT-Cosworth               +2 laps

Fastest lap: Webber, 1:42.612

Not classified/retirements:

Ricciardo     HRT-Cosworth                 49 laps
Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari           19 laps
D’Ambrosio    Virgin-Cosworth              18 laps
Vettel        Red Bull-Renault             1 lap

World Championship standings, round 18:

1. Vettel       374
2. Button       255
3. Alonso       245
4. Webber       233
5. Hamilton     227
6. Massa        108
7. Rosberg       83
8. Schumacher    76
9. Petrov        36
10. Sutil         34
11. Heidfeld      34
12. Kobayashi     28
13. Alguersuari   26
14. Di Resta      23
15. Buemi         15
16. Perez         14
17. Barrichello    4
18. Senna          2
19. Maldonado      1

1. Red Bull-Renault          607
2. McLaren-Mercedes          482
3. Ferrari                   353
4. Mercedes                  159
5. Renault                    72
6. Force India-Mercedes       57
7. Sauber-Ferrari             42
8. Toro Rosso-Ferrari         41
9. Williams-Cosworth           5

Next race: Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo. November 25-27.

18 thoughts to “Hamilton benefits from Vettel’s puncture to win”

  1. Abu Dhabi race winner Lewis Hamilton hopes this result will signal a return to the top following a difficult 2011 season. Autosport.com has the story.

    Lewis Hamilton is hopeful his win in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the start of his return to the top following a difficult season.

    The Briton had not won a race since July and had dropped to fifth place in the standings after a troubled couple of months.

    On Sunday, however, the McLaren driver dominated the race from start to finish once Sebastian Vettel retired on the opening lap.

    It was Hamilton’s third win of the season, and he is now aiming to keep his momentum going into the season finale in Brazil.

    “I don’t know,” he said when asked if he was back on the right track. “It is early days yet but this is definitely a start.

    “We have another great race ahead of us in Brazil, so we will focus on that and try to keep the momentum. You know how it goes, anything can happen. I have to keep my focus on it.”

    Hamilton admitted he felt in control of the race despite Fernando Alonso pushing him at the start of each stint.

    “I think it’s very rare for us and me to get the opportunity to maintain a gap and control a race,” he said. “But today I had the pace and was able to put in the laps when Fernando went quicker. And then I was able to pull out when he came in.

    “There was a stage where he would close the gap. It seemed as if he would start the stint slower than me but get quicker at the end, but I am very, very happy with how it went.”

    And the McLaren driver labelled the Abu Dhabi win as one of his best yet.

    “I think it was one of my best races,” he said. “I said that as I slowed down: being able to hold off one of the best drivers in the world is tough to do. Looking after the tyres, managing the gap… I am ecstatic, really very happy to be back up here. This is great and I can get on the flight tonight and smile.”

  2. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso admitted he had to drive the 55-lap race like qualifying to apply pressure on race leader Lewis Hamilton. Autosport.com has the details.

    Fernando Alonso said he was putting in qualifying-style laps throughout the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he pushed to beat Lewis Hamilton.

    After moving up from fifth to second on the opening lap, Alonso kept Hamilton under pressure to the finish, though he ultimately had to be content with the runner-up spot.

    “I tried hard all race,” said Alonso. “It was an individual race against time. I was doing qualifying laps every lap trying to close the gap but it was one tenth up or down for the whole stint and we dominated.”

    Both the leaders had issues with lapped traffic during the race, with several backmarkers receiving drive-through penalties for impeding. But Alonso felt both he and Hamilton lost equal amounts of time in traffic so doubted the lapped cars had affected the result.

    “About the people we were catching, when he had some problems I closed the gap to two seconds and when I had problems I lost two seconds – it depended on which parts of track you caught them,” said Alonso.

    Ferrari has only won one race this season – Alonso’s triumph at Silverstone – compared to six wins for McLaren and 11 for Red Bull. Although Alonso has managed nine other podium finishes, he said he was now looking forward to putting 2011 behind him with just the Brazil season finale remaining.

    “I am looking forward,” said the former champion. “To be honest I want to have the last race and think of 2012 as soon as possible – not to forget this year because the year has been quite good for the team and in general we made good improvements from last year, but we were not able to fight for the championship.

    “Definitely next year is a good challenge for us – and a big motivation for next year is to do better than 2011.”

  3. McLaren’s Jenson Button said that losing the Kinetic Energy Recovery System played a part in the race. Autosport.com has the story.

    Jenson Button said that the KERS problem he suffered during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix left him uncertain of his McLaren’s performance from one lap to the next.

    Despite spending most of the race without KERS, Button held off late challenges from Mark Webber’s Red Bull and Felipe Massa’s Ferrari to take the final spot on the podium behind Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

    Afterwards the 2009 world champion said that KERS had cut out on a number of occasions during the grand prix, which compromised not only his car’s performance, but his own driving as well.

    “I’m not sure my pace was entirely there on the soft tyre anyway,” said Button. “But by lap 13/14, I didn’t have any KERS, which wasn’t great.

    “In the next stint they [the team] said what I could do to get KERS back, and I got it back, but it only lasted two laps so I had to keep resetting it.

    “The problem’s not just when you accelerate, but it’s under braking too. You get a certain amount of engine braking from it when it’s working, but every time I arrived in a corner I didn’t know what to expect.

    “I had to fend off Webber and Massa, which was quite interesting without KERS. Coming home third I’m relatively happy.”

    Button’s third place means that he will secure the runner-up spot in the championship by coming home third in Brazil in a fortnight.

  4. Sebastian Vettel was left lamenting his lost chance in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after retiring for the first time in the 2011 season.

    The Red Bull driver, starting from pole position, made a good start to keep his lead but spun off at Turn 2 following a puncture to his right rear tyre.

    Vettel drove back to the pits but his car was too damaged to continue and was forced to retire for the first time in 19 races.

    The world champion believes he would have had a good chance at fighting for another victory.

    “At the exit of the first corner everything seemed fine but as soon as I started to turn in for the second corner I felt something was wrong with the rear right and I had to catch the car surprisingly,” Vettel told the BBC.

    “And the second time I had to catch it I couldn’t do it anymore. I had a puncture and I spun off. And on the way back I damaged the suspension so badly I couldn’t carry on.”

    He added: “Up to that point we had a very good start. I was very happy with the car. It’s hard to say how quick we could have been. Mark had a difficult race. His pace was good so I think his car was in good shape.

    “On other hand I think Lewis and Fernando had strong pace. I think we would have had a chance, but it’s difficult to stand here and tell you what it could have been. In the end it didn’t happen because we didn’t make it much longer than one lap.”

    He was also adamant that Red Bull needs to get to the bottom of what caused the puncture.

    “It looks like at the exit we suddenly lost tyre pressure. The tyre was flat by the time I went into turn two. I don’t really know why. It’s nothing I did different to any other lap or any other driver so we need to really understand what it caused the puncture.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  5. Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari rues costly pitstop problem for missing out on the points in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Autosport.com has the story.

    Jaime Alguersuari believes he could have finished in the points in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix had it not been for a problem during one of his pitstops.

    The Toro Rosso driver finished in 15th position after losing a lot of time when he stopped to change tyres for the first time.

    Alguersuari believes tenth place would have been possible.

    “I am very disappointed with the outcome of this weekend, because we had opted for a strategy in terms of aerodynamics that appeared to be the best in terms of ease of overtaking in the race,” said the Spanish driver.

    “However, after the first four or five laps, I seemed to pick up some tyre degradation and I was losing the rear end. Then came the key moment in my race, when there was a mistake in the pitstop, which cost me a lot of time and dropped me down the order, from which I could not recover.

    “Today, P10 was possible, because I had a good pace on the new Options, even if I am not sure that we could have caught the Force Indias. I am sure Brazil will suit us better, so I am looking forward to that and the chance for all of us to do a better job.”

    Team-mate Sebastien Buemi had to retire from the race after a strong start due to a loss of fluid from the hydraulic system.

  6. Kamui Kobayashi was happy to end his points drought in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after finishing in 10th place in the race.

    The Japanese driver had not been in the points since the German Grand Prix in July.

    “I am happy to have scored a point today,” he said, “I have had a pretty long period without scoring and for me it was important to put an end to this.

    “I had a really good start and was able to make up five positions on lap one. Actually the performance of the tyres during and after the start was better than expected.

    “I started on the medium compound as I was only 16th on the grid, and this is obviously a situation in which you have to take chances. But we knew it would be a difficult first stint, and it was not really clear how long those tyres would last.

    “They dropped off after a few laps and then I lost three positions before I pitted after lap five for soft tyres. I think overall it was a good race by us.”

    Team-mate Sergio Perez finished in 11th position after having to change his strategy due to a damaged front wing on the opening lap of the race.

    The Mexican rookie admitted he was hoping for more.

    “I had higher hopes for the race today,” he said. “It is a shame what happened on lap one. There was a queue into turn seven and I couldn’t avoid hitting Adrian Sutil’s car. It wasn’t immediately clear how big the damage was, but then the team told me my front wing was broken and I had to pit after lap two.

    “We then decided to go for the medium compound when we did the nose change. On my third stint, again on soft tyres, I was driving in tenth for a while, but then I struggled with the tyres and also for the last 12 laps my KERS wasn’t working.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  7. Vijay Mallya, team boss of Force India, believes that a sixth place finish in the constructors’ championship is now near-certain. Autosport.com has the details.

    Force India team boss Vijay Mallya felt the squad’s double points finish in Abu Dhabi meant it could all-but-celebrate securing sixth place in the constructors’ championship, as it pulled 15 points clear of nearest rival Sauber.

    The team had gone to Yas Marina 10 points ahead of Sauber and Toro Rosso, but with Adrian Sutil seventh and Paul di Resta eighth on a day when STR failed to score and Sauber took just one point from Kamui Kobayashi’s 10th place, Force India’s rivals now need a miracle result in Brazil to knock it out of the top six.

    “We came here determined to deliver a strong result and we’ve come away with six important points to consolidate our sixth place in the constructors’ championship,” said Mallya.

    “Both drivers drove faultless races, splitting the strategies and covering all the options. So I’m very pleased with our performance as a team, which puts us in a much stronger position with 15 points advantage over our nearest competitor.

    “I feel confident that we can go to Brazil to finish the job and confirm our sixth place in the championship.”

    Sutil’s only disappointment was that he had narrowly missed out on beating Michael Schumacher to sixth.

    “Today’s result is great for the team and just what we needed,” he said.

    “Initially we were planning to do a one-stop race, but the team took the decision to switch to a two-stop strategy because the soft tyre did not last as long as we thought it would. So it was a good call by the team to make the change.

    “I spent a lot of the race fighting with Schumacher and managed to get ahead of him for the middle stint. But I probably went one lap too long in the middle stint and he got ahead of me when we were both on the medium tyre at the end of the race. I was close behind him, but we had similar pace and I couldn’t get back ahead.

    “Still, we came here to pick up points with both cars, and that’s what we’ve done. It puts us in a very strong position for the final race.”

    Di Resta was the only driver who managed to make a one-stop strategy work as he took eighth, though in retrospect he felt a different tactic might have been better.

    “I think as a team we can be pleased to have come away with a double points finish having run different strategies with both cars,” said the Scot.

    “With hindsight my one-stop race was not the optimum strategy, but we felt it was worth a try. As it turned out the performance of the medium was not great to begin with so the first 30 laps were quite hard work.

    “I had a good fight with [Sebastien] Buemi in the early laps and I think we were quite lucky that he retired, which made my race a bit easier.

    “When I switched to the softs the speed of the car was very strong. To do a one-stop race and come away with two points is as much as we could really hope for. It’s what we need for our fight in the championship and hopefully we can arrive in Brazil and carry on where we left off.”

  8. Bruno Senna admitted there was no comfort to take from the performance of his Renault team in Abu Dhabi after a poor race on Sunday.

    The team struggled all weekend with its car around the Yas Marina circuit, and Senna endured a difficult race which included a failing KERS, and a drive-through penalty for ignoring blue flags.

    The Brazilian, 16th in the race, conceded there was nothing to write home about.

    “Let’s be honest here – there’s not a crumb of comfort to take from that performance,” Senna said.

    “We suffered from a KERS failure, drive-through penalty and a car which was not on the money at this particular track. Put those together and you see why I finished where I did.

    “There was lots of lost time to make up and, strategically, we took a gamble that didn’t pay off. I certainly think that overall this weekend my pace was as good as it could have been. Maybe for Brazil we will have a better baseline, and let’s hope we have a better race weekend.”

    Team-mate Vitaly Petrov also had a tough day and, with his DRS not working, he had to settle for 13th place.

    “It was quite a frustrating afternoon because my DRS was not working,” he said. “We thought we could have a good fight with the cars in front, but we were pretty helpless, so we decided to change the strategy.

    “When I first stopped, we put fresh medium tyres on but unfortunately these did not last long enough so we returned to the pits on lap 38 to change to the soft. Unfortunately that ended up being too slow. The pace was not good enough to score points and that’s the reality.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  9. The race stewards have given time penalties for both Pastor Maldonado and Jaime Alguersuari for ignoring blue flags during the race. Autosport.com has the details.

    Pastor Maldonado and Jaime Alguersuari have both been given time penalties for ignoring blue flags during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    The pair were asked to see stewards after the Yas Marina race to explain why they had not let through Felipe Massa and Mark Webber fast enough.

    The stewards decided to hand Alguersuari a drive-through penalty, but this was converted to a 20 seconds time penalty because it had been handed to him after the race.

    Maldonado, who had earlier been given a drive-through penalty for ignoring blue flags, was given a stop-go penalty – which was converted to having 30 seconds added to his race time.

    The penalties do not change either drivers’ positions, with Maldonado finishing 14th and Alguersuari one place behind.

  10. Pirelli is still unsure what caused the puncture that put Sebastian Vettel out of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on the opening lap.

    The Red Bull driver started well from pole position and led into Turn 1, but ran wide onto the kerb exiting the corner; his right-rear tyre deflating instantly and causing him to spin off the track as he moved left for Turn 2.

    Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery said that it will be extremely difficult to apportion blame until a proper investigation has been conducted on the failure.

    “That’s always a problem when all you get back is a bag of bits. You’re not always guaranteed of getting a clear answer,” Hembery said.

    “We have the tread back, the sidewalls and the rim, so we’ll work with Red Bull to find an explanation for Seb. We do know it was an instant deflation at least, and the most likely cause with such a quick deflation is debris.

    “You can tend to rule a lot of things out. You can rule out a number of aspects. It was a used set [of tyres] as well, so from that point of view you can eliminate a whole host of things.

    “Beyond that, you’ve got to get as much data as you can and we’ll work with Red Bull to find the right conclusion. There’s a risk, of course, that we might never find it.”

    Hembery believes it unlikely that the deflation was caused by any debris lying in the gutter between the two parts of the Turn 1 exit kerb.

    “We went and had a good look at the kerb with Seb and with the gutter,” he added. “This is a wonderful circuit and there’s nothing we’ve seen there that would cause you to be overly concerned.

    “You’ve got to remember that 23 cars did the race going over the same areas and we didn’t have any issues there, so that’s unlikely. But he was the first car over that kerb, so if there was any debris there, he was the one that was going to get it.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  11. Sebastian Vettel’s puncture on the opening lap was an instantaneous failure according to Red Bull Racing. Autosport.com has the story.

    Red Bull Racing had no early warning about the tyre failure that put Sebastian Vettel out of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – after revealing its data showed it was an instantaneous failure.

    Vettel was leading the Yas Marina event from pole position when his right rear tyre lost pressure on the exit of Turn 1. With the tyre flat as he turned into the second corner, Vettel was pitched into a spin.

    Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner said post-race analysis of the car had not indicated an obvious explanation for the failure.

    “Basically all we could see at the moment from the data is that he has had a tremendous start,” said Horner. “He had gone into Turn 1 and, on the kerb, there has been an instantaneous loss of pressure.

    “So, by the time he has arrived at Turn 2, there is no tyre pressure and that has caused the car to spin. That is what has damaged the suspension and ultimately that is why we had to retire the car.

    “At the moment we don’t know if it was a bit of debris from one of the support races, as he wasn’t particularly high on the kerb or anything like that. He just appears to have been unlucky today.”

    When asked if there was any indication from telemetry that something was wrong with the tyre before the start of the race, Horner said: “No, no, no. The tyre was fine, going into Turn 1, and then you can see just an instantaneous loss of pressure.”

    Horner said that damage to the rear suspension meant it was impossible to let Vettel continue once he had returned to the pits.

    “The damage was from where the rim has dug into the ground as he was spinning,” he said. “It just damaged the track rod being able to run it, and it would have been unsafe to continue.”

    Despite seeing Vettel suffer his first retirement of the year, Horner acknowledged that the incident would have hurt more last season – when he was battling for the world title.

    “It is a good job it happened this year rather than last year I guess,” he smiled.

  12. Felipe Massa blamed difficulties with the medium tyres, allied to weekend dramas with his front wing, for a troubled Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    The Brazilian had been forced to revert to an older specification of front wing following practice at the Yas Marina circuit, after encountering some dramatic flapping on the main straight like he had suffered at the Indian GP.

    That switch cost him some performance, and then matters were not helped in the race when he admitted that his car was difficult to drive on the medium compound tyres – which resulted in a late-race spin.

    The time lost there cost him any chance of finishing ahead of Mark Webber in their fight for fourth position.

    “The biggest problem was the hard tyres, and for me that was one of the most difficult problems, the biggest problem, I had during the race,” said Massa.

    “I had reasonable pace compared to these other guys with these soft tyres, fighting with them all the time and then, when I put the hard tyres on, it was very difficult.

    “The tyres were not working, then I had to push all the time as well, just to see if I was able to be in front of Mark [Webber]. Then I braked a bit too much, I lost the rear and then I could not stay on the track.”

    Talking about the wing situation, Massa said: “I tried the front wing on Friday and it was shaking too much. Both front wings I tried and I was not able to use, and that was a big problem because I lost a lot of performance compared to the other car.

    “That was another part of the problem during the race. Anyway I am looking forward for Brazil to have the car with the best pieces and everything we have in the season, and I will try to do a better weekend in Brazil.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  13. Well as Vettel said on the BBC F1 Forum after, it was better than last year!

    Would have actually been good to see Seb and Lewis battle it out for the lead, but after his bizarre tyre failure, he didn’t last more than 3 corners. Very odd and hopefully the team and Pirelli can get he answer for the sudden blowout or whatever you can call it.

    But Lewis had a faultless weekend so it was good to see him get the win and finally have a small smile.

    Some people hate DRS and I can see the point of it being called false overtaking. But can those people give me ONE reason why Abu Dhabi today would have been worth watching without it? Fake maybe, but it gave us some great battles with people having been overtaken, taking their places back to the complete surprise to the overtaker. Get that?!

    But as always, it was a fairly forgettable weekend, and one that Williams totally wanted to forget. What a stinker and what a shame. From the great heights yesteryear, to this. Such a shame and I hope them well for next year.

    Right food time so off to the cooker, sorry Chinese!

  14. Thanks for the comment invisiblekid. I was shocked to see Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull pitched into the spin in only the second corner of the opening lap as I thought he made contact with Lewis Hamilton. But it seemed that the low tyre pressures while running on the exit kerb could be a factor to the sudden puncture. More data analysis from both the team and Pirelli will determined the answer to that odd blowout.

    As for Lewis Hamilton, I bet he was happy to see his main rival spin and was forced to retire. He inherited the lead from that moment and resisted the pressure from Fernando Alonso to score his third victory of the season. It was a rich reward for the McLaren driver after some difficult couple of months on and off the track.

    Regarding the issue of the DRS zones, sure it made the racing artificial but at least we had overtaking compared to last year’s Grand Prix.

    This was a shocking weekend for the once great Williams team. To start at the back of the grid was shameful but at least Rubens Barrichello and team-mate Pastor Maldonado were able to recover from that poor grid positions to finish in P12 and P14 respectively.

    I wonder what Kimi Raikkonen must be thinking if he does join Williams for next year… Those rumours are still going around until an official announcement will be made before or during the Brazilian Grand Prix. Can the Iceman lead Williams back to former glory? We shall see.

  15. Sebastian Vettel showed what a true team player he was by sticking with his Red Bull Racing chiefs on the pit wall following his early exit from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, according to Christian Horner.

    The team’s principal said Vettel’s surprise decision to remain with his outfit rather than leave the track gave a fascinating glimpse of why the world champion is one of the very best drivers on the grid.

    “I think it is part of who he is,” explained Horner. “He is like a sponge for information. He saw an opportunity to help his team-mate with the benefit of his experience and also an opportunity to experience what the pit wall is like, and to see how we make decisions in the race.

    “He is like a sponge for that kind of thing. He is keen to understand and offer any advice and help he could.

    “He was offering the benefit of his experience and what he would be feeling. He was interested to see how the pit wall worked, and hear how the strategies unfold.”

    Horner conceded that Vettel had been deeply disappointed by seeing his chances of another win dashed so early in the race – but said there was no reason why the team would not respond in style by winning the season finale in Brazil in a fortnight’s time.

    “The whole team was frustrated because we were in a great position to win the race,” explained Horner. “Seb did a superb job in qualifying, one of the best laps of his career I think to nail that pole position.

    “He had done everything right, he had done the start, made it comfortably into the lead into the first corner and it was cruel luck really to be forced to retire in the way he did.

    “So of course he was disappointed, but he didn’t rush to leave the circuit. He hung around to help the team and try and help his team-mate. But he is determined to finish the season on a high and I am sure we will bounce back in two weeks in Brazil.”

    Horner says that the team’s experience in Abu Dhabi provided a harsh reminder of why his outfit should never take victory for granted in F1.

    “Absolutely,” he said. “That is why we have celebrated every single victory with the satisfaction that we have. Winning grands prix is tremendously difficult. It needs everything to come together and it has been the most remarkable season for the team.

    “To have won 11 of the 18 races so far, to have achieved all but one of the pole positions this year, to have won both world championships with three races to go, it has been the most remarkable year. It would have been great to have maintained our unbeaten run here, but unfortunately with the tyre puncture we had it was not to be.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  16. Christian Horner stands by the decision to take on a risky pit-stop strategy for Mark Webber during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Autosport.com has the story.

    Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner says his team had nothing to lose by opting to put Mark Webber on a three-stop strategy in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    The Australian was battling with Jenson Button for third place in the early stages of the race, but at his second stop Red Bull Racing elected to keep him on the soft compound rather than switch him onto the medium to take him through to the end.

    Although that move meant Webber would need to build up a big buffer over Button on the track to jump him at his final stop, Red Bull felt it was the right thing to do. Ultimately Webber could not get far enough ahead of the McLaren before pitting for mediums on the last lap, so finished fourth.

    “It was a situation where, because of the issue [of a slow tyre change] at the first stop, we were behind Jenson and Felipe [Massa],” explained Horner. “If we had adopted the same strategy as them, we were likely to finish behind them.

    “So at that point you say, ‘okay, we have nothing to lose’. The likelihood of being beaten by [Nico] Rosberg was pretty slim, so we felt we would go for a three-stop and try and pull out a gap, which worked very well with Felipe.

    “Unfortunately Jenson was a bit too quick on the prime. We got to 12 seconds and needed 20 seconds, and it wasn’t enough. But it was worth a roll of the dice.”

    Horner said that Webber’s first pitstop had been ruined by a problem at the right rear – which cost him valuable time in the tight battle with Button and Massa.

    “In the first one we had a nut come out of the socket on the right rear, which unfortunately cost him a few seconds,” said Horner.

    “I think we would have been able to have jumped Jenson, but that then dropped him behind Jenson and Felipe. At that point we needed to do something different; otherwise, we would have just finished behind the two of them.”

    Horner revealed that Webber had also been slowed by a piece of rubber, believed to be from Sebastian Vettel’s first-lap puncture, lodging itself underneath his car.

    “It was a bit of rubber that had come off Sebastian’s car that he managed to hoover up,” he explained. “I think it would have had a small effect, but Mark’s pace was very good.”

  17. McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has praised the job that Jenson Button did in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – as he battled race-long KERS problems to deliver a podium finish.

    Although the Woking-based outfit’s focus was on seeing Lewis Hamilton deliver a dominant victory, Whitmarsh said the team was just as delighted in seeing Button overcome his own difficulties to finish third.

    “We will remember it, and rightly so, for a great, great win for Lewis, but we should not underestimate the job that Jenson did,” explained Whitmarsh.

    “Early in the race he had a KERS failure and he spent about 20 laps without it, so for the rest of the race we were trying to reset it to get it going. But then it would fail again.

    “During all that time, and these were times when he was trying to keep rhythm, trying to keep pace, trying to defend position, trying to get through traffic – his brake balance was swinging wildly with the failure of KERS or not.

    “So it was an incredible job to do that and a really difficult one to convey the challenge we gave him. It was a great, great job to be on the podium with all that.”

    Whitmarsh revealed that Button’s KERS problems began quite near the start of the race, and were never really fully resolved.

    “I think it was probably around lap 10 that he started to have issues, and then he did about 20 laps with no KERS. After that he had KERS intermittently because we were resetting it, turning it off and then turning it back on, probably about five times.

    “It was really an incredible job by him because it makes a huge difference, not just in lap time but also in balance, and actually arguably, probably a fault in the system is that impending failure isn’t predicted.

    “So every time it went off he just had to arrive at a corner with a violently different brake balance. I imagine at any of these hairpins, if you are coming down to them at quite a big speed wondering, ‘have I got a functioning KERS system and is my brake balance appropriate?’, that is not an easy thing mentally to deal with, or even physically to deal with.”

    Although Button’s result has moved him a step closer to finishing runner-up in the drivers’ championship, Whitmarsh does not think that Button is attaching too much importance to the matter.

    “There is a fight for second in the drivers’ championship, but on race morning we were talking about various strategies with Jenson. What I liked was that he felt, let’s take a risk with the strategy if we get the opportunity.

    “His mentality was, ‘I don’t care about finishing second in the championship, I want to win the race’. If the cards had fallen in a particular way, his attitude was I am flat out to try and win the race, and if that entails risk that puts in threat my second in the drivers’, he was very happy to do that.

    “I think that is the right attitude because, to be honest, wins are what we are about, not trying to hold on to a second place in the drivers’ championship. It is a great attitude.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  18. Following his third victory of the season, McLaren tips Lewis Hamilton to step up his performance. Autosport.com has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton will use his victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as a springboard to lift himself to another level of driving, as he moves away from the troubles that have dogged him over the past few months.

    That is the view of his McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh, who reckons that Hamilton’s triumph at the Yas Marina circuit showed that the former world champion was now back to his best.

    “There is no reason why, in my mind, he cannot raise himself to another level now,” explained Whitmarsh. “I think this was a great recovery from where he has been in the last few months, and he can do greater things even than this.

    “I think he is pretty happy with this one. You can see that in him and that enables people to drive with greater confidence and to attack that little bit extra. We are looking forward now to getting to Brazil and having another race, which is good.”

    Hamilton has endured widely-reported difficulties in his private life recently, and said ahead of the Abu Dhabi weekend that he felt it important to surround himself in a ‘happy bubble’ of friends and family next year to get himself fully focused on the job he needs to do.

    The honesty about his difficulties offered a glimpse about the progress he has made in addressing the issues that he has faced, and Whitmarsh thinks that being able to deliver a win right now was vital to help Hamilton speed that process along.

    “I think it was an important win, but they are all important,” he explained. “I think he has been strong all weekend, strong through practice, and he came here with a good frame of mind and focused.

    “It didn’t quite work out in qualifying, as we thought we should have been on pole and we weren’t, but the outcome we have had was great. It was good for Lewis to reset where he is and where he is at in his head.

    “It also means both drivers have got three great wins apiece this year, and I am sure both of them can make it four by the end of the season.”

    Although the results of the Abu Dhabi GP mean that it is now impossible for Hamilton to overhaul Button in the title standings, which means he will be beaten by a team-mate for the first time in his Formula 1 career, Whitmarsh does not think that holds much significance.

    “I think this season has been a challenging one for him,” he said. “He has done a great job here, and he will focus on the positives of that.

    “And, as I say, he will now be saying, ‘when can I get to Brazil? I love that circuit!’ It is a fantastic circuit, and he will want to win there.”

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