Hamilton shines under the Abu Dhabi stars

Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26 takes the chequered flag at the end of the race.

Lewis Hamilton crosses the line at Yas Marina Circuit to win the 2011 Abu Dhabi GP

Nov.13 (PVM) Under fire Lewis Hamilton scored one of the most important wins of his career when he powered to a well controlled victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the super posh and pristine Yas Marina Circuit.

Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26 in parc ferme.

Third win of the season for Lewis Hamilton

His life was made substantially easier when pole position winner, and double world champion, Sebastian Vettel spun out in turn two when his rear tyre deflated. he limped back to the pits with the tyre flailing on the rim which caused damage to the Red Bull. Vettel was out.

At the front Hamilton proceeded to control the race in his McLaren, and was at his very best throughout the sunset and early evening, delivering an error free performance which reaffirms his status as one of the top guns of modern Formula 1. Hamilton is back with his third win of the season.

He said afterwards, “It’s my mum’s birthday this weekend. It’s great to be able to win while she is here. I feel fantastic. It’s one of my best races. I said that to myself as I slowed down. Being able to hold one of best drivers in the world [Fernando Alonso] is something that is tough to do. I was looking after tyres and managing the gap. The team did a great job with the stops.”

Sebastian Vettel retires from the race

Sebastian Vettel retires from the race

Vettel explained his misfortune, “At the exit of the first corner everything seemed fine but when I turned in I tried to catch the car but I couldn’t do it any more and I spun off. On the way back I damaged the suspension so badly. I don’t know what happened. We lost pressure all of a sudden out of the exit of Turn One. I don’t why. There is nothing that I did differently to any of the others laps. We need to find out why, maybe I cut the kerb at a funny angle. It is tough, but I used the opportunity to learn a bit on the pit wall.”

Behind him Fernando Alonso delivered another gutsy performance, starting from the third row of the grid he muscled his way to second early on where he stayed until the end of the race, playing cat and mouse with Hamilton. But in the end the Ferrari simply did not have the pace to match Hamilton, and second place will be a result they would not have expected.

Alonso said, “It was fantastic for me. I had a very good start and the first lap fighting with Jenson. Then we found ourselves second and we were three to five seconds behind Lewis. In the last stop we were two seconds later than the McLarens. But there was a bit of traffic and I’m not sure that even with the faster stop we could have overtaken.”

Top three on the Yas Marina podium

Top three on the Yas Marina podium

Behind the top two there was action all the way, as two DRS zones at Yas Marina delivered a spectacle of racing – with battles throughout the field and overtaking galore – of which the battle for third between Jenson Button and  Mark Webber was the highlight. the two slugging it out wheel to wheel while Felipe Massa kept a watching brief.

Webber and Red Bull gambled with a three stop strategy which nearly paid off, the Australian making his last stop – for the slower prime tyres – a lap from the end but was short of Button who was on the more conventional two stop strategy and consequently took third place.

Button admitted in the post race press conference, “I’m not sure my pace was entirely there on the soft tyres. I think lap 13 or 14 I didn’t have any Kers basically so I had to fend off Webber and Massa, which was quite interesting without Kers. In the next stint they said what I could do to get it back but it lasted for two laps at a time so I had to keep re-setting it. When you don’t have it you don’t have any braking performance. Every time I arrived at a corner I didn’t know what to expect. I’m relatively happy.”

Carmen Lockhart mother of Lewis Hamilton celebrates at the podium

Carmen Lockhart mother of Lewis Hamilton celebrates at the podium

Webber was fourth, with Massa fifth. The Brazilian spun out late on in the race, but challenging Webber for fourth would have been unlikely.

Webber summed up his evening, “On the second stop, we fitted the option tyre again to cut the race into something different. It was worth a bit of a punt. The two DRS [moveable rear wing overtaking aid] zones were tricky. The first one was easy but the second wasn’t so easy. The DRS was a bit of a gimme today. We had pretty good pace and I was close to Jenson Button at the end of the first stint. Then we had a bad first pit stop. We lost a lot of time. It put us on the back foot. We lost track position. That’s where we lost the podium.”

Nico Rosberg headed home Mercedes GP team mate Michael Schumacher, the pair taking eighth and ninth respectively. The two rubbing wheels early on in the race.

Next up were the Force India pair with Adrian Sutil finishing eighth and Paul di Resta ninth.

Kamui Kobayashi claimed the final point for his Sauber team.

Sunday, 13 November – Race Result

Pos No Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Pts
1 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 55 Winner 2 25
2 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 55 +8.4 secs 5 18
3 4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 55 +25.8 secs 3 15
4 2 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 55 +35.7 secs 4 12
5 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 55 +50.5 secs 6 10
6 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 55 +52.3 secs 7 8
7 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 55 +75.9 secs 8 6
8 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 55 +77.1 secs 9 4
9 15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 55 + secs 10 2
10 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 54 +1 Lap 16 1
11 17 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 54 +1 Lap 11
12 11 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 54 +1 Lap 23
13 10 Vitaly Petrov Renault 54 +1 Lap 12
14 12 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 54 +1 Lap 24
15 19 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 54 +1 Lap 15
16 9 Bruno Senna Renault 54 +1 Lap 14
17 20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 54 +1 Lap 17
18 21 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 53 +2 Laps 18
19 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 53 +2 Laps 19
20 23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 53 +2 Laps 22
Ret 22 Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 48 +7 Laps 20
Ret 18 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 19 +36 Laps 13
Ret 25 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 18 +37 Laps 21
Ret 1 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1 Puncture damage 1

Note – Maldonado qualified 17th but drops 10 grid places for using ninth engine of the season. Barrichello failed to set a Q3 time – races at stewards’ discretion.