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Page last updated at 15:59 GMT, Sunday, 1 November 2009

Vettel wins as Hamilton drops out

Sebastian Vettel

Highlights - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

By Chris Whyatt

Sebastian Vettel cruised to victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber after Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire early.

The McLaren pole-winner had to stop on lap 20 with a brake problem after which Germany's Vettel romped home with ease in Formula 1's first twilight race.

New world champion Jenson Button launched an attack on Webber late on but had to settle for third.

His Brawn team-mate Rubens Barrichello was fourth at the new Yas Marina track.

The veteran Brazilian never threatened to make up the three points he needed to overhaul Vettel in the final drivers' standings and the 37-year-old must settle for third place after a season in which he occasionally looked like a potential world champion.

Formula One world champion Jenson Button

Race with Webber was alot of fun - Button (UK only)

BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld came fifth in Abu Dhabi ahead of Toyota's rookie Kamui Kobayashi, while the Japanese's team-mate Jarno Trulli was seventh with Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi eighth.

Vettel recorded the fourth win of his hugely-promising season and it was also the fourth time Red Bull scored a one-two this year.

The last grand prix of 2009 was a largely uneventful race held at the spectacular and well-received new Yas Marina circuit, in which the Abu Dhabi government has invested huge amounts of money.

It was expected that Englishman Hamilton would cruise to victory after a storming performance in qualifying on Saturday in a McLaren car which he said had not been better all season.

But Hamilton was struggling with rear brake problems from the start and he was never able to get away from the chasing Vettel.

The German leapfrogged into the lead after making his first pit stop two laps later than the McLaren, and Hamilton was called into the pits to retire just a lap later.

"I was locking and locking and locking it was harder than ever to drive the car," Hamilton told BBC Sport.

"It's a shame as the car felt so good these last couple of days, but we haven't had many brake problems this year so there you go.

Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton won the most points of any driver in the second half of 2009

"But I still think the whole team should be really proud of how we have recovered this season."

Vettel dominated from then on, and the race only really lit up with Webber and Button's last-lap duel.

"We had a very good launch and I was close to out-accelerating Lewis, but he disappeared into the distance with his Kers [energy-boost button]," said Vettel.

"But I was able to stay close enough and we knew we were a little bit heavier and I was always catching up in the last sector. That was the secret.

"After he retired I had a little bit of a cushion and was able to pace myself… but the car was brilliant. A pleasure to sit in it. It's a shame the season ends now but it's a perfect day to finish it on a high."

Webber said: "We had a bit of a short fill (at the first stop), so JB could do a good few laps and make up the gap. I thought it was going to be tight at the end.

"We had a good clean fight, on the limit for the two big (braking) stops."

Button added: "It was a fun race. I thought I could pull it off, but Mark is always a difficult person to overtake. It was clean, but on the edge.

"Today has been a bonus after winning the championship in Brazil. A podium is a nice way to end the year."

Barrichello, who looks likely to join Williams next season, suffered from wing damage in a small collision with Webber as the cars made their way through Yas Marina's first turn for the first time - and Button was able to sneak past.

JAKE HUMPHREY'S BLOG

The world champion was passed himself after pitting on lap 18, with new boy Kobayashi - standing in for injured Timo Glock for a second time - slipping through cleverly in his lighter car at the third attempt.

Unlike the pack who started at the front, Kobayashi was on a one rather than two pit-stop strategy and could not keep that position gained, but his sixth will be widely admired in F1 circles - especially with many driver line-ups not confirmed for next season.

"The performance was really great," he told BBC Sport.

"It was wet in Brazil and dry here, but for me it's easy to adapt to different conditions."

Acclaim for the Yas Marina circuit was quick to follow after the first race at Formula 1's newest venue.

"The circuit is almost perfect," said Brawn team boss Ross Brawn, who led his charges to the constructors' championship in their debut season. "It's a fabulous facility and we're honoured to be here."

Of the race, he added: "We don't quite have the pace of Red Bull at the moment, they've moved ahead a little bit."



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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Last updated: 1 Nov 2009 14:46 UK
Position Country Driver Time
1 germany S Vettel 1:34:03.414
2 australia M Webber 1:34:21.271
3 great britain J Button 1:34:21.881
4 brazil R Barrichello 1:34:26.149
5 germany N Heidfeld 1:34:29.667
6 japan K Kobayashi 1:34:32.757
7 italy J Trulli 1:34:37.780
8 switzerland S Buemi 1:34:44.708

see also
Button vows to improve next year
01 Nov 09 |  Formula 1
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as it happened
01 Nov 09 |  Formula 1
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race results
14 Sep 09 |  Results
Abu Dhabi GP qualifying as it happened
31 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Abu Dhabi GP qualifying photos
31 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
From Shropshire to Abu Dhabi GP
30 Oct 09 |  People and Places
Abu Dhabi GP practice as it happened
30 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice results
14 Sep 09 |  Results
Discover the new Abu Dhabi track
17 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Zoom in and fly around Yas Marina
29 Oct 09 |  Formula 1


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