Vettel snatches victory and the title in Abu Dhabi

Sebastian Vettel took victory at the season finale in Abu Dhabi, and wrenched the world championship out of Fernando Alonso’s and Mark Webber’s hands. Fernando suffered badly when he pitted to cover Webber early on, and he was held up by Vitaly Petrov for the rest of the race. Here is what happened:

At the first corner, Jenson Button made a successful move on Fernando Alonso, putting the Ferrari back into 4th place. At Turn 4, Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher made the lightest of contact, Michael lost out and spun. The cars behind tried their best to avoid the Mercedes, but Vitantonio Liuzzi failed to do so, and smashed straight into him, with the Force India jumping just over Schumacher’s helmet.

The safety car was deployed for the crash, with the two cars and debris all over the track. For the next few laps, all of the cars tried to keep the heat in their tyres, although Lewis Hamilton was complaining of cold brakes. Bernd Maylander pitted on Lap 6, and the racing resumed.

Robert Kubica made a wonderful move on the outside of Adrian Sutil for 9th place. Kamui Kobayashi dived down the inside of Rubens Barrichello, but overshot the corner and Rubens retook the position. Nico Rosberg, who pitted for the harder tyre under the safety car, overtook Nico Hulkenberg for 13th.

Within a few laps though, both of the Red Bulls began to lose pace, with their rear tyres graining. Hamilton began to get right up behind Vettel, while Webber was falling away from Alonso. Mark made the call to switch to hard tyres on Lap 11, and fell to 16th. Ferrari were about to pit Massa, but decided to keep him out.

However, the next lap, Felipe Massa stopped for harder tyres, but emerged behind Webber still. Mark was being held behind Jaime Alguersuari, but the Spaniard decided to allow the Red Bull through next up for Webber to overtake was Vitaly Petrov.

Fernando Alonso pitted on Lap 15, and despite nearly hitting the wall, pitted and emerged just ahead of the Red Bull, to the relief of Ferrari. If Webber had cleared Alguersuari a lap earlier, he could well have jumped Fernando in the stops.

The focus soon switched to Vettel and Hamilton at the front, and both seemed to be utilising the super-soft tyres better than anyone else, with both staying out longer than their rivals. Nico Rosberg was now crucial to the championship battle, as Vettel now had to stay out, then pit and emerge ahead of the Mercedes. By Lap 20, however, Sebastian’s tyres had finished the graining stage, and he could now push in the lead for longer.

With Alonso and Webber being held up behind Vitaly Petrov, the situation now had another twist. If Nico Rosberg’s strategy was to work, and he jumped up to a podium position, this would push Alonso down to 5th, and hand Vettel the title. With this in mind, Alonso was instructed to push and try and get past Petrov.

On Lap 24, Alonso made a dive on the Renault, but ran wide and lost some time, although he stayed ahead of Webber. Meanwhile, Hamilton pitted, and Sebastian was ordered by his team to push like hell. He pitted one lap later, and was still ahead of Lewis. Even better, Kamui Kobayashi and Robert Kubica were in between the Red Bull and the McLaren. To make it even better for Vettel, they began to battle, with Kubica out-braking Kobayashi around the outside, a stunning move.

Jenson Button was now left in the lead of the race, although he was still yet to stop. Robert Kubica was now holding up Lewis Hamilton, as they were in 3rd and 4th places. Kamui Kobayashi pitted from 5th, and was back out in 16th. Nico Hulkenberg stopped a few laps later, and promoted Alonso to 9th.

The title was shifting closer and closer to Sebastian, and he showed that by setting fastest lap after fastest lap. Sebastien Buemi stopped, giving Fernando 8th position. On Lap 40, Jenson Button finally pitted, after an astonishing 40 laps on the super-soft tyres, which gave Sebastian Vettel the lead, and Button was now 4th.

As well as Nico Rosberg being crucial to the title, Robert Kubica was now entering the equation. The average pit stop time lost was 22.5 seconds (Williams estimate), and Kubica was 19 seconds ahead of Alonso. The Renault was lapping half a second faster than the Ferrari, thanks to Vitaly Petrov holding Alonso up, so now Fernando could lose another position when Kubica was to pit.

On Lap 45, Hamilton and Alonso were still stuck behind other cars, and Hamilton wiped out another trackside camera trying to catch Kubica. Timo Glock, meanwhile, retired on track with a gearbox problem. Kubica pitted on Lap 47, and tortured Alonso a little bit further by emerging ahead of the Ferrari. However, he ran a little bit wide at pit exit, and went a little too close to incurring the stewards’ wrath. Adrian Sutil pitted from 4th, and left Alonso 7th.

With this, and only 5 laps to go in the 2010 Formula 1 season, the dust began to settle. Alonso began to realise it was all over, and Webber was told he could try an overtaking move on the Ferrari, although he failed to do so. Apart from Jarno Trulli’s rear wing collapsing, little happened in the last few laps, to settle the hearts on the Red Bull crew. And with that, Sebastian Vettel cruised to the finish line, to take race victory, and the 2010 world championshp!

Fernando Alonso crossed the line 7th, but he wasn’t done yet. As the cars slowed, he gave the middle finger to Vitaly Petrov, who was simply doing his job, and, with hand gestures, signalled to Alonso: “What did you expect me to do?”

But that was swiftly disregarded, as the youngest world champion took to the top step of the podium. And with that, Sebastian Vettel wore the biggest smile in the world in Abu Dhabi, and Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber retreated to lick their wounds. Plenty of posts will be up in the next few days, but I’ll make it clear here: Sebastian fully deserved the 2010 title.

The standings have been updated for the final time, you can view them here.

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One response to “Vettel snatches victory and the title in Abu Dhabi

  1. pickle92 November 20, 2010 at 15:41

    I will admit that over the course of the season Vettel is the right champion. My GP post is up (I’ve been ill so that’s why it’s taken a while).

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