Hamilton wins in Formula One’s twilight zone
Lewis Hamilton has taken his third win of the season in Abu Dhabi after Sebastian Vettel retired after only a single lap.
Vettel, who qualified on pole yesterday, got off the line cleanly. By turn two, however, his right-rear tyre had developed a puncture, and the subsequent trip back to the pits caused terminal damage to his car.
‘I feel fantastic, i really think it was one of my best races,’ said Hamilton. ‘I’m ecstatic.’
‘To be able to hold one of the best drivers in the world (Fernando Alonso) off for the entire race is very, very hard to do.
‘I’m very, very happy to be back up here.’
Hamilton drove superbly throughout the race, managing the gap to the admittedly slower Ferrari of Fernando Alonso. After his turbulent second half of the season, a win heading into the final round of the year will be exactly what the 2008 World Champion has been after.
‘It was a fantastic race for me as well,’ added Alonso.
‘We found ourselves second, then we fought all through the race within three or five seconds with Lewis.
‘We were close, I think. Extremely happy with second, and I enjoyed this weekend.’
Jenson Button found his way to the final step of the podium after battling KERS issues for much of the race. He reported to his team that he was having persistent trouble with the system, after which his team had to direct him through the lengthy reboot process.
‘On lap 13 or 14, I didn’t have any KERS,’ explained Button. ‘I had to fend off Webber and also Massa, which was interesting without KERS.’
‘I eventually got it back, but it lasted for only two laps at a time.
‘Coming home and finishing third, I’m relatively happy.’
Mark Webber finished in P4, his team opting to run him on a three stop strategy – the only driver in the field to do so. As a result, he waited until the final lap before making the compulsory switch to the prime tyre.
Felipe Massa had a shot at pushing Webber down a place in the classifications, needing to maintain a gap of less than around 20 seconds in the final lap in anticipation of the Australian’s final stop.
In a display illustrative of his year, however, Massa lost control of his car on lap 49, along with what little chance he had of a fourth-place finish.
Nico Rosberg led home his team-mate from P6, keeping the gap in Mercedes’ crucial inter-team battle open – now at four points.
The Force India pair of Sutil and di Resta duly finished behind, filling eighth and ninth, while Kobayashi brought home a single point for Sauber in tenth.
The finale to the 2011 Formula One season takes place in Brazil in a fortnight, on November 28 at Interlagos.