Vettel crowned World Champion in Abu Dhabi

 

GPUpdate

Vettel crowned World Champion in Abu Dhabi

2010 Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix: Sunday race results
 

Sebastian Vettel has won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and clinched the 2010 Formula 1 World Championship title. The German becomes the youngest ever overall winner in the sport after closest rivals Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber finished only seventh and eighth at Yas Marina on Sunday evening.

Four drivers went into tonight’s race with a chance of taking the F1 crown although Spaniard Alonso was the favourite of most, as the championship leader started third and two places ahead of closest challenger Mark Webber.

However, the results of a first-lap crash between Michael Schumacher and Vitantonio Liuzzi proved to be critical in deciding the outcome of this year’s title.

Vettel led at the start, with his left-rear wheel just being missed by the front of Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren as Jenson Button shot past Alonso and up to third.

Vettel leads the field as Button takes Alonso for third
Vettel leads the field as Button takes Alonso for third

Attacking Rubens Barrichello into Turn 6, Schumacher’s Mercedes span across the track; the seven-time World Champion was lucky to avoid injury when t-boned by the unsighted Force India of Liuzzi, with the Silverstone team being unable to take back sixth place in its constructors’ battle with Williams.

With much debris on-track and both drivers thankfully walking away, the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg dived into the pits along with Vitaly Petrov’s Renault, Jaime Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso, Lucas di Grassi’s Virgin Racing and the Hispanias of Bruno Senna and Christian Klien.

Liuzzi makes heavy contact with Schumacher's stationary Mercedes at Turn 6
Liuzzi makes heavy contact with Schumacher’s stationary Mercedes at Turn 6

Vettel led comfortably at the Lap 6 restart, with Hamilton at points managing to reduce the gap to as low as one second before the German stretched the advantage back up to 1.9 prior to coming in. However, the Heppenheim man’s title was chiefly sealed by events taking place behind him.

With Vettel leading Hamilton, Button and Alonso, fifth placed Webber dived into the pits for an early stop and aggressive strategy at the end of only the 11th lap, with this being following by a pit visit from Alonso – attempting to cover the Australian – four laps later.

However, these particular strategies from Red Bull and Ferrari proved to be predominantly harmful as both drivers rejoined the race behind Rosberg and Petrov, who had already both pitted under the Safety Car.

Receiving support from their respective mechanics, both the Spaniard and Australian title contenders were unable to pull off passes on their ways to respective seventh and eighth places behind the resistant Russian.

At the front, Vettel – who was unaware of the events going on behind him – made his sole stop on Lap 24, shadowing second placed Hamilton who had been in one tour earlier. Button then led for some 15 laps although, despite the Frome man’s best efforts, he was unable to jump neither of the men in front of him.

Vettel’s drive to victory was aided by the fact that Hamilton’s progress was dramatically slowed by the other Renault of Robert Kubica, which after passing the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi around the outside of Turn 11 – scene of a pass for Hamilton as well – demonstrated strong pace on its way to a top five result behind Rosberg, who made the most of a clear track after his own early stop.

Sebastian Vettel: 2010 FIA Formula 1 World Champion
Sebastian Vettel: 2010 FIA Formula 1 World Champion

Another pit beneficiary was Alguersuari, who rounded off his season with two points in ninth after narrowly escaping Q3 elimination on Saturday.

Massa’s Ferrari, which had been used to pit and rejoin ahead of Webber in order to protect Alonso – a strategy which also failed pay off – finished tenth as tyre wear took its toll.

Although Jarno Trulli may have suffered front wing damage and lost his rear wing during the race, Lotus celebrate tenth place in the Constructors’ Championship at the end of their maiden season. The fourth retirement tonight was Virgin’s Lucas di Grassi, who stopped on-track with gearbox problems.

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