Hamilton takes commanding win in Abu Dhabi

Vettel leads at the start, but not for long...

Vettel leads at the start, but not for long...

Lewis Hamilton was back on form for the first time in months, as he drove fantastically to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel didn’t even make it around the first lap, resulting in a surprisingly exciting race on the Yas Marina track.

Fernando Alonso drove the wheels off his Ferrari to take 2nd, with Jenson Button 3rd after a relatively slow race. Here is the full report:

At the start, Vettel retained his lead at Turn 1, but for no longer. A puncture exiting the corner blew a rear tyre, reducing Sebastian to a crawl for the entire lap.

Lewis Hamilton leaped into the lead, while Fernando Alonso shoved his way into 2nd place, ahead of a struggling Jenson Button. Meanwhile, after pitting, it became clear that Vettel’s right rear suspension was ruined, and the world champion retired from the race.

The battle for the lead was between Hamilton and Alonso, as the two traded fastest laps, with Button and Webber squabbling behind. Further back, Paul di Resta and Sebastien Buemi battled for 9th place, with the double DRS resulting in constant passes and re-passes.

Kamui Kobayashi, who pitted on Lap 6, began his ascent through the field, passing both HRT cars in a single corner, as Liuzzi and Ricciardo tussled for position.

Button’s lack of pace was explained by a radio message stating that there was “still a problem” –  which became apparent as a KERS failure. Felipe Massa was the first to pit on Lap 16, taking on more soft tyres.

Hamilton and Alonso stopped a lap later, with Button not far behind in the pits. Webber pitted on Lap 18, but a slow tyre change resulted in the Red Bull dropping down the order, behind Felipe Massa. Replays showed Vitaly Petrov running wide and losing places to Adrian Sutil and Michael Schumacher.

Paul di Resta was instructed to allow Sutil past into 8th place, while Sebastien Buemi retired with an ailing car. It became clear that Di Resta was on a one-stop strategy, losing up to 3 seconds per lap on the medium tyre. He eventually pitted for the option tyre on Lap 28 – a risky call.

Pastor Maldonado was given a drive-through penalty for ignoring blue flags. Button’s lack of KERS meant he was slowly caught by Massa and Webber. Mark was the first to make a move, slicing past the Ferrari, but Felipe re-took the position at the second DRS zone.

Their battle was interrupted by Pastor Maldonado, who, after not learning anything after his first drive-through, held up both drivers as he swerved around the track.

Webber pitted for soft tyres on Lap 36, indicating he was on a three-stop strategy. Button stopped a lap later, taking on the harder compound. At the front, Alonso began chopping into Hamilton’s lead, bringing the gap down to 3.9 seconds.

Webber gets by Button while on a different strategy

Webber gets by Button while on a different strategy

Sergio Perez got past Vitaly Petrov for 10th place. Mark Webber set fastest lap after fastest lap on the option tyres. Lewis Hamilton pitted with 14 laps to go, to cover Alonso’s excellent pace.

While Fernando stayed out, Webber’s race began to slowly unravel, as he was stuck behind Jenson Button, despite two instances of DRS helping the Red Bull. Eventually Mark pushed his way past the McLaren, but as he needed to stop again, Jenson didn’t bother defending his position.

A poor pit stop for the Ferrari ruined his chances of jumping Hamilton in the stops. Rosberg and Webber in 3rd and 4th both needed to stop again, but battled it out on track regardless. Mark got past the Mercedes, but it became clear he had lost his chance of a podium finish.

Massa spins after yet another poor race

Massa spins after yet another poor race

Kamui Kobayashi eaasily passed teammate Sergio Perez for 10th place with 8 laps to go. Felipe Massa spun at Turn 1, ensuring that Webber would remain ahead of the Ferrari after his final stop.

Daniel Ricciardo became the final retirement of the day, pulling off the track with 3 laps to go. As expected, Webber pitted on the final lap, dropping him to 4th place.

Lewis Hamilton crossed the line to take his first win since the Nurburgring, ensuring a return to form at the end of the 2011 season. Alonso pushed as hard as he could, but a win was too much to ask for. Button took a steady 3rd after his KERS issues.

After a troubled year, Hamilton is back on top

After a troubled year, Hamilton is back on top

Webber led Massa home, while Nico Rosberg beat teammate Michael Schumacher, who pulled over on the cool-down lap to conserve a fuel sample.

The Force Indias performed well, with Sutil and Di Resta 8th and 9th after utilising different strategies. Kobayashi grabbed the final point after a difficult string of races for the Japanese driver.

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