Sebastian Vettel took his seventh consecutive win with one of the most dominant victories in recent Formula 1 history in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Poleman Mark Webber did not make the best start and was overtaken on either side by his Red Bull teammate Vettel and the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg. As the Mercedes defended from Webber, Vettel put together his now customary fine first lap to go 1.9 seconds clear.
While Vettel then pulled away up front, Webber gradually fell away from Rosberg and was soon under pressure from the Lotus of Romain Grosjean.
Webber and Grosjean pitted together on lap eight and returned in the same order, while Vettel was one of the last frontrunners to stop as he continued to lap faster on his aging soft tires than all those on fresh mediums.
The leading Red Bull finally came in at the end of the 14th tour and resumed in the lead, ahead of the Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, both of whom had yet to stop. Vettel duly reeled off the remaining laps and second stop, completely in a class of his own, and crossed the line half a minute clear of the field. He then celebrated with another round of donuts (BELOW), despite the hefty fine they earned him last time out in India.
Webber recovered from his poor first stint by closing Rosberg down once they were both on the medium-compound Pirellis and sweeping round the outside of the Mercedes on lap 20.
Rosberg kept the second Red Bull in sight thereafter, but did not have the pace to seriously challenge Webber. Similarly, Grosjean could not quite keep up with the Mercedes. He only narrowly cleared the two Ferraris after his second stop before putting on a late charge that fell just short of usurping Rosberg.
The main excitement in the closing stages of the race was the contest for fifth, as a number of cars closed on the one-stopping Force India of Paul di Resta.
Lewis Hamilton, who felt a vibration and had his Mercedes’ brakes checked before the start, had already lost ground in the second stint. Unlike Webber and Grosjean, he was unable to overtake the yet-to-stop Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez. Once the Sauber pitted, Hamilton caught the Force India of the late-stopping Adrian Sutil, which was on mediums. By then the Mercedes had Massa, Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber) and Alonso not far behind.
All three made it by Sutil’s Force India, but not before Massa had brilliantly dived by the Mercedes to run fifth. Alonso also got by Hulkenberg during the battle.
As the other cars pitted, Alonso closed on Massa before the Brazilian stopped. Alonso left his final stop until there were just 11 laps to go and changed to softs. He rejoined just ahead of Massa and alongside Jean-Eric Vergne, getting ahead of the Toro Rosso as the Ferrari jumped over the Turn 2 curbs.
The move attracted the attention of the stewards and will be investigated post-race, but Alonso charged on and started closing on Hamilton, who in turn was closing on di Resta, setting up a fight for fifth over the last half-dozen laps.
It took Alonso no time to overcome the Mercedes on lap 50 and he dispensed with di Resta the next time through. As Alonso charged on, setting fastest lap on the final tour, di Resta successfully held off Hamilton for an impressive sixth.
With Vergne fading on his old rubber and eventually pitting, Massa moved up to eighth, while Sergio Perez’s McLaren overtook Sutil on the last lap to take ninth.
Charles Pic led the fight of Formula 1’s minnows early on, but was overcome by Giedo van der Garde. He nevertheless finished well clear of the Marussias, headed by Jules Bianchi.
After being put to the back after qualifying, Kimi Raikkonen’s grand prix was brief. He tried to pass the Caterhams at the first corner and the ensuing contact with van der Garde put the Lotus out.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTSThe Abu Dhabi Grand PrixYas Marina, Abu Dhabi;55 laps; 305.355km;Weather: Clear.Classified:Pos Driver Team 1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 2. Webber Red Bull-Renault 3. Rosberg Mercedes 4. Grosjean Lotus-Renault 5. Alonso Ferrari 6. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes 7. Hamilton Mercedes 8. Massa Ferrari 9. Perez McLaren-Mercedes 10. Sutil Force India-Mercedes11. Maldonado Williams-Renault 12. Button McLaren-Mercedes 13. Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 14. Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 15. Bottas Williams-Renault 16. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 17. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 18. van der Garde Caterham-Renault 19. Pic Caterham-Renault 20. Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 21. Chilton Marussia-Cosworth Fastest lap: Alonso 1m43.434s.Not classified/retirements: Raikkonen Lotus-RenaultWorld Championship standings, round 17:Drivers: Constructors: 1. Vettel 347 1. Red Bull-Renault 513 2. Alonso 217 2. Mercedes 324 3. Raikkonen 183 3. Ferrari 323 4. Webber 166 4. Lotus-Renault 297 5. Hamilton 165 5. McLaren-Mercedes 95 6. Rosberg 159 6. Force India-Mercedes 77 7. Grosjean 114 7. Sauber-Ferrari 55 8. Massa 106 8. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 32 9. Button 60 9. Williams-Renault 110. Hulkenberg 49 11. Di Resta 48 12. Perez 35 13. Sutil 29 14. Ricciardo 19 15. Vergne 13 16. Gutierrez 6 17. Maldonado 1 All timing unofficial