Drive of the Year: Sebastian Vettel at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix


Dec.23 (Grand Prix 247) Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel showed the mark of a true champion by charging from pit lane to podium at the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix, the 18th round of the championship. We at GPI believe that this was the best drive, by any driver, of the 2012 season.

Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Yas Marina Circuit(Note: Not to be mistaken for Driver of the Year which we will announce on the final day of 2012.)

Starting last, Vettel never doubted that he could be a contender, after being sent from third place on the grid to the pit lane for a fuel infringement in qualifying. By the end of a chaotic and crash-strewn evening, the double world champion stood on the podium in third place while title rival Fernando Alonso was second for Ferrari behind race winner Kimi Raikkonen.

Vettel’s championship lead, which would have passed into the Spaniard’s hands had he failed to score, but instead was only trimmed from 13 points to 10 with two races remaining at the time.

“He’s mentally incredibly strong,” team principal Christian Horner told reporters as mechanics packed up around the paddock.
“Before the race I went to see him in his room to wish him good luck and he was in there playing a drum kit with his trainer and he said, ‘I’ll see you on the podium’.

Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Yas Marina Circuit“He was the one guy in the briefing room last night, while the rest of us were ready to slit our wrists, who was saying ‘It’s not an issue. We can still do this’. It’s that mental strength that he has that is one of his biggest assets,” mused the team boss.

After qualifying, 24 hours earlier, Horner had addressed reporters at the same place outside the Red Bull hospitality building to outline why his driver had been stripped of his qualifying times and sent to the back of the grid.

He had explained that Red Bull would take Vettel’s car out of the sealed ‘parc ferme’ to work on it, hoping that a points finish might be possible with a more aggressive set-up including different gear ratios and suspension.

Vettel, who had been hoping for a fifth successive win up to that point, had merely quoted Finnish Olympic ski jumping great Matti Nykanen’s observation that ‘Every chance is an opportunity’.

On Sunday, such was Vettel’s speed – coupled with a helping hand from two Safety Car interludes – that he looked like he might become the first driver to win after starting in last position.

Sebastian+Vettel+F1+Grand+Prix+Abu+Dhabi+h78uitFUQf-x“I said to myself ‘Either we go full attack or nothing’,” he said after the floodlit day-to-night race around the harbourside Yas Marina circuit. “I think we can be very proud. We got the maximum. We lost only a very little bit, I think we have the momentum still and the car is bloody quick.”

Surrounded by reporters in the pit lane before the start, and with Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone making the trek down to wish him luck, Vettel told his mechanics he trusted them 100 percent.

The start was far from perfect, with the Red Bull suffering some front wing damage that was worsened when he hit a trackside marker board and, after pitting for a replacement nose, Vettel went to the back again.

“Usually it’s hard enough to fight your way once through the field but we did it twice,” said Vettel. “We were dead last. At least we had a fresh wing and from then [we] went through the field. It was a lot of fun…it was a big chance to lose out a lot but we didn’t lose anything so I’m very happy.”

Subbed by AJN.

  • Mark

    Thank you for those awesome comebacks, champion.

  • Not Bernie

    If this wasn’t enough to prove Vettel is a great driver, further evidence was to follow in Brazil. Vettel is firmly one of the greatest ever drivers in F1.

  • Get_Some

    This would make sense if he didn’t have two incidents and he didn’t have the help of two safety cars.

    But he did.

    So it doesn’t.

  • marcus

    he would win if got no incident, that will made it more impresive. :)

  • Butterfly

    He’s going to disappoint you all as soon as he gets a less-than-perfect car.

  • mharker

    @Butterfly the Toro Rosso, for one, was a ‘less than perfect’ car. And Vettel didn’t disappoint…

  • Butterfly


    Sorry, mate, the Toro Rosso had a Ferrari engine and a chassis designed by Newey. Plus, it ran a wet-weather setup at monza, hence the pole & victory.

    BTW, Vettel’s team-mate was running on the same pace as Vettel at Monza, but failed to get off the line so ended up a lap down.

    That car wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination.

    But I can understand people’s reluctance to accept that this guy shouldn’t have won three titles on skill.

    Adrian Newey is some engineer.

  • Joe Kinnear

    @ Butterfly

    Fernando (and anyone else) will disappoint too if he has a less than perfect car.

    Fernando fanboys just can’t admit that Sebs is one of the best drivers. They always give that “oh that’s because he has a good car, wait till you see him in a crap car” trash talk. Well isn’t it obvious you need a good car to win? Sebs made the most out of his good car so what’s wrong? Even Kimi once said “You can’t win in a shait car”. You ever seen a Hispania win? Or a Minardi?

    You do remember that when Fernando won his titles in ’05 and ’06 his Renault was the best right? And at that time Schumi’s Ferrari wasn’t the best yet he managed to scare Fernando on a few occasions right?

    What do you have to say about that now?

    You just shot your foot with your dumb comment.

  • Psych4191

    This wasn’t even close to a good drive. He crashed twice and had two safety cars to catch back up to the field. In fact, he only had one overtake that really was good, and that was against Jenson.

    The best drive of the year has to go the Fernando in Malaysia. Or even Perez in Malaysia. Both were far better than Vettel’s Abu Dhabi.

  • mharker

    @Butterfly I mean Vettel’s entire career at Toro Rosso. Just look at Vettel’s results and those of his team mates, and also performances of Toro Rosso drivers before and since Vettel was there and while you’re at it check also the performances of the Red Bull drivers compared to Vettel. Vettel showed signs of his brilliance at Toro Rosso.

    And are you seriously trying to imply that the Toro Rosso was a top car?

  • Butterfly


    I’m saying it was good enough to get on the podium regularly, yes. Remember, Adrian Newey was designing the chassis, including upgrades to it. Both Red Bull teams were using the same chassis.

    Toro Rosso was running a more powerful Ferrari engine, so I would say he had a car better than the RBR, assuming they got the setup right every time.

    Adrian Newey has always been there by his side.

    Now, the kid can drive a fast car, no doubt, but until he gets his hands on the 3rd fastest car on the grid and bags 10+ podiums during the course of a season like Alonso has each year, I’m not going to say he’s good.

    Wins are everything, but he should calm down about being the best. Winning the title doesn’t make you the best. A bad car would do that for you.

    Of course, RBR aren’t going to go out and design him a bad car just to improve his image, aren’t they? :-)

    @Joe Kinnear:

    Did you even watch the races this year? 13 podiums to Vettel’s 10 in a car that was at its best 7 tenths off the pace in qualy is disappointing to you?

  • Peter

    Well the World Still in the belief of If Vettel wins it was Newey car if he doesn’t win then it was Down to Vettel

    Vettel is a Great Driver and Alonso is Great Driver also still hard to beat but that doesn’t mean Vettel has to prove some things to some people. There is Nothing Vettel to prove some people to reckon as a Good/Great Driver. He was already is. If you don’t recognize him then it was your Point of View but to say that he was not a worth of penny for his 3 *WDC was not a Point to make.

    He does what he have in his hands. He was not a Superior experienced Driver like Alonso. It comes with Experience. Ask your self guys do Alonso did the same like Vettel did when was in 25 years??

  • Butterfly


    Alonso wasn’t crashing into everybody when he was 25. Not then and not now.

    From what I’ve seen, F1 drivers don’t learn anything during their F1 career, apart from tech stuff perhaps.

    The way the were driving when they got into F1 that’s how they’ll keep driving ’till the end of their career. They’re pros already, how can you improve that?

  • jl

    Fernando never crashed, really?
    You may see 2003 Monza (it’s epic lol) , or more new in 2011 Canada, even 2012 Suzuka,… Well,… when Fernando crashed it’s all another driver fault, always!
    All drivers must move and give Fernando room, “He is faster than you” even when Fernando get blue flag.

  • jl

    All other fans sportif enough to accept when Fernando receipt award. I do not know why Fernando fans always deny when another driver get some appreciation for his achievement.
    Hey,… it’s about Vettel and drive of the year, why Fernando fans always interupted with sore loser atittude (just like Alonso did)? stop it sore loser, it’s disgusting.

  • Butterfly

    Oh, I forgot to mention Vettel’s “ability” to thrash F1 engines.

    Valencia 2009 – two engines went bust. It’s been suggested to him that he might not be using the throttle properly.

    Reliability comes from the car being built properly and from the car being used properly. Haven’t seen Alonso ever misusing the car.

    Look at Webber vs Vettel – better reliability on Webber’s side of the garage.

  • Peter

    Sorry mate It was absolutely wrong. They won’t learn much ??

    If Experience is Nothing then Why Ferrrari was intrested in Alonso back in 2010. Why Mclaren signed Jenson in 2010 or Kiimi signed for Lotus in 2012 or Lewis for Mercedes in 2013. As you said any one can Drive then why waste huge money on one driver despite Keeping that to Updates of Cars through out the season. You need a Experienced Driver along side because they will help the team in all aspects.
    or take simple Real world example if you are a Fresher(A Recent Graduation completed student) and go out for a Job why you always choose a Fresher one instead of Experienced one you are a graduated one and Learned everything since the Beginning of you career.

    Alonso didn’t crashed Yes. But we all know how Alonso was back in 2005 ,2006,2007 compared to now. Both Mentally and Technically i don’t think i need to make a big debate on that. Alonso lost engine in Malaysia back in 2010 and also Nursing a gearbox problem so can you say the same for Alonso too.

    As i said earlier you just don’t want to say some one else was good then its fine but saying he was not a Match for other and his skills are not worth enough for you to say a Good/Great means you are just nothing but a Man with Very less Information.

  • jl

    Fernando is tbe crasger nut in young age.
    When get older he was cheater.
    When get more older he was overrated.
    Now he is jealous to Vettel.
    Lol lol lol

  • Butterfly


    As I said, they gain experience on tech stuff, which helps in working with the engineers. But not on driving.

    Just watch Alonso driving for Minardi and watch him driving for Ferrari – same guy, same style, no difference.

    It’s the same with Lewis Hamilton.

    The driving is specific to each individual like, say, taste in food, clothing, cars, etc.

    When you hear teams & drivers talking about experience, it’s just PR speak.

  • Not Bernie

    What you’re ignoring is man’s ability to learn and adapt to any given situation. Some will adapt better than others, but they all have the ability to learn. With that comes experience, and through that experience they’re better able to tell their engineers how the car reacts.

    The Alonso who drove for Minardi is different from the Alonso which drives for Ferrari. He has no doubt learned much since then.

    Although it was Vettel who won driving for Minardi. ;-)

  • Peter

    Nope they Do need to change Driving style Massively due to change of Regulations and the New Pirelli tires(Since 2011)
    We all knew Lewis was a Tire eater but the past 2 seasons proved that he changed his style to Make tires longer.
    Alonso aggressive on tires and Very late on Brakes in his earlier Career part and Changed his style now to Make the Most of the things
    Every one need to change the Style to adopt the New regulations if they aren’t changed then they will never come out on top.

  • Butterfly

    Not Bernie:

    …a Mindardi designed by Adrian Newey :-)

  • jl

    There are new disease, Neweyfobia. :D.

    Only Schumacher’s team had the antidot

  • jl

    Dietrich paid Newey expensive to design for his main team, but Vettel won his satelite. The claim from Alonso fans always ridiculous, just to make Alonso seem better. Actually Alonso was and still the dirtiest cheater who got amnesty from FIA. My God,… the dirtiest of the dirty.

  • Butterfly


    Look, smart-arse, the Newey argument is used because Vettel is consider by many to be incomplete. If it were Hamilton, Raikkonen, or Alonso driving one of those Red Bulls, then nobody would be saying anything.

    Clearly, a lot of the F1 viewers don’t consider Vettel to be good enough for that level of car performance.

  • jl

    Well,… a cheater like Alonso will be cheat in Newey car. Alonso will cheat even in a great car. A cheat has no confidence to win the title without cheat. :D

  • pitwall

    You mean the race where he hit another car, breaking his front wing, then hit an advertising sign, then had everyone else take each other out or blow up, with safety cars just when he needed them…. good selection PF1…

  • Alonso_is_slow

    Newey argument is crap. Webber best performance in a Newey car was 3rd in the championship. Even in 2011. Newey needs Vettel to win.

    Even while cheating, Alonso could not win in a Ferrari that Rakkonen drove the title. Even Massa was closer to winning than him.

    Alonso is a loser and Montezemolo is ready to replace Alonso with Vettel as soon Vettel is willing to go. This the bottom line, and Alonso’s whining will be forgotten.

  • Not Bernie

    I so hope that Vettel is the driver that Montezemolo never manages to sign.

    (Otherwise I agree with your last post).

  • Butterfly


    Sport on.

  • Butterfly

    *spot on

  • fools

    ALONSO FOR THE 2013 WDC!!!!! Haters will always hate the best.

  • Peter

    He Lost Front wing with a Small Collision with Senna, He Hit DRS due to Ricciardo Tire Warming Sequence and Lost a Little Concentration but he didn’t Made any of SC there do he??
    He didn’t pushed Rosberg to hit Karthikeyan, He didn’t Forced any one out of track like Perez does and he didn’t Forced a Problem at T11-12. If he Made a Mistake which brings out a SC then you can say it was Him caused a Problem so it can’t be said as Best
    Also If he didn’t lost Front wing and didn’t his the DRS board then He would end up ahead of Alonso.
    Merry Christmas Mates

  • Peter

    Yes mate you are absolutely Spot on That’s why Every one hating Vettel now.

  • Alonso_is_slow

    @not Bernie

    Montezemolo’s comment was an open bid to Vettel. He also made a clear indication that Alonso’s retirement is not so far. I think one more year with no title an it will be imminent.

    Vettel has shown that he can unite a team and perform. Alonso has only shown that he can easily turn against his own team. He also has a bad effect on Ferrari’s reputation with his unsporting comments and cheating history.

    In the end, Money will bring Vettel to Ferrari. His management will take care of that. It always happens.

  • Not Bernie

    Montezemolo is smarting that he’s three years in to paying the most that’s ever been paid to any F1 driver and there’s still no world championship.

    But worse the reputation of the whole Ferrari F1 brand has slipped. The Ferrari merchandise stores won’t be as busy as they were, and that will be affecting the bottom line too. You can see it on eBay where their products are almost worthless (should have sold my stuff a couple of years back).

    Sure they’re cars sales will just be as busy as before. But the F1 team is separate from that.

  • Butterfly

    You know, because of the stable regulations for 2013, Ferrari might just produce the goods, that is, a bloody fast car.

    Don’t be surprised if he wins all the races from pole position.

    You’re all cheering for Vettel because he’s the champion, youngest-ever 3x WDC, but I’m sure you know he wouldn’t have been able to drive that F2012. He probably would have ended up at Felipe’s level of performance.

    Fernando has the legs on everybody on the grid, not to mention the excellent car control.

    You’ll see.

    Of course, if Ferrari fail to produce a fast car, he’ll probably swap places with Vettel for 2015. :-)

  • Alonso_is_slow

    @bitttersprite but loser just like Alonso.

    Alonso was slower than Massa in the last four races. He also crasjed iinto Raikkonen for no reason. Lost championshi due to bad performance after many lucky races and having the fastest car mid season, confirmed by outqualifying red bulls.

    At the same time Vettel brought the Maximum.

    Montezemolo knows Alonso was a bad choice and now whining for Vettel replacement.

  • Butterfly

    I don’t see it like that, Mr. Troll.

  • AlonsoFan

    Just look at how close Webber is to Vettel in qualifying and compare Alonso to Massa ..or for that matter Hamilton Vs will see why Vettel is just an over-rated driver lucky enough to be driving the best car..And Btw Vettel cut a complete corner in India and still got pole,never overtook NK without complaining and *itching about him or crashed into williams senna twice..and driving a car that is 15 kph faster in india throught the chicane and in 09-11 took a corner at Barcelona,a gear higher than everybody

  • Butterfly

    Damn it, he goes for the last Q3 lap, misses four apexes, gets pole by 7 tenths. Surely not that car…

  • jl

    Over rated is claim the best for himself, talking about his own greatness, like alonso did.
    Oh yeah,… and your hero was beaten by a rookie in 2007 but still claim the great. Great sore loser lol.

  • Butterfly


    For your information, Alonso has never finished the season with fewer points than his team-mate.

    …even with the whole McLaren team against him.

  • jl

    Butter,To remind you in 2007 hamilton was a rookie. A rookie. Alonso at that time was double world champion. 2WDC, more experienced,… beaten by a rookie. add his cheat and ridiculous strategy. Mclaren always give same support for their drivers, it’s their tradition. And,.. alonso lose from hamilton. Lol lol.

  • Butterfly


    Rookies with that kind of F1 mileage don’t exist anymore.

    Hamilton is good, no doubt, but being a rookie actually helped him

    1. the new 2007 tires were more like what he used in GP2, whereas it took Alonso & Raikkonen a few races to adapt.

    2. being a rookie means you have no pressure. Any successs is a bonus.

    Plus, it’s no secret that McLaren were cheering for him and not Fernando.

    Make no mistake, they pushed Alonso hard to help Hamilton, but the Spaniard just showed them the middle finger and finished on equal points with Lewis.

    It was a botched job on the part of McLaren’s management. It ended in tears – literally – for Ron Dennis.

    Plus, they lost Alonso and his technical expertise.. an overall mess.

    Hope this clears it up for you.

  • Butterfly


    I would just like to add tha the “equal treatment” doesn’t work in F1 if you want to win championships.

    McLaren have this retarded philosophy that the team is everything and you can find drivers everywhere. So it’s not worth giving any of the drivers special treatment.

    So the drivers don’t get to keep their trophies – the team does – and they can just fight like roosters, the team wins.

    It ended badly for Senna & Prost, Alonso & Hamilton, and Hamilton & Button.

    Each time they ended up with regret, yet they will continue to employ the same tactics.

    Well, I hope they can wait another fifty years for the next world title.

  • jl

    A long long theory, as I guess. Tipical excuse from a loser. Whatever the reason, your reason, that an excuse. Loser is loser, alonso also made this kind of excuse when he got full support and beaten by vettel. But,.. thank you for your funny excuse.

  • Butterfly


    You know, Google Translate produces better English sentences than you do.

  • F1 fan

    ohh my God @jl,not bernie,Alonso_is_slow just get something achieved in your actual life rather than criticising Alonso and hating from a dark room,I know grooming is important when you are a homose*ual or your life hasnt worked out the way you planned so you just try to be a keyboard-terrorist and take your desperation on fan-sites.nothing more

  • Butterfly

    keyboard terrorist?

    Not bad, not bad at all…

  • jl

    @F1 fan.
    Reversed though, here we were praising vettel. Read the article, it’s about vettel. Then came alonso fans talked dirty trash, its you who are keyboard terorrist. Stop become a bad loser and face reality, alonso lose, a loser and a cheater. Remember, this article is about vettel not alonso.

  • Not Bernie

    @F1 fan,
    Claim you’re a fan and yet here you are making rather nasty remarks. Shame on you.

    What has Alonso achieved? Convicing people like you that he’s the greatest driver there ever has been. As I’ve said before, he’s a very good driver, but great he is not. His two WDCs were gifts.

    But this is about Vettel’s drive in Abu Dhabi. It’s that type of drive you don’t witness very often in F1 these days. But he was to repeat it in Brazil. I’m willing to see it different if you can point to a time in the last three years when Alonso has done similar.

  • Tw

    “I can understand people’s reluctance to accept that this guy shouldn’t have won three titles on skill.”

    Yeah, I can understand ignorant bigotry. I don’t like it, but I can understand it. There has been nothing special about the RB cars Vettel has driven.

  • Tw

    “He’s going to disappoint you all as soon as he gets a less-than-perfect car.”

    He had a less-than-perfect car this year, Noddy.

  • Tw

    “I’m saying it was good enough to get on the podium regularly, yes. Remember, Adrian Newey was designing the chassis, including upgrades to it. Both Red Bull teams were using the same chassis.”

    The Red Bull did NOT get on the podium “regularly”. The 2008 TR used the 2007 RB chassis, and the 2007 RB managed a single podium. The 2008 RB also scored a single podium finish. Vettel in the 2008 TR scored more points than Coulthard, Webber, and Bourdais – combined! You don’t know anything about motor racing.

  • Not Bernie

    @ Tw,
    very good points you’ve made! Vettel is the real deal.

  • conservancy@MHR

    … the drive of 2012 was Sebastian Vettel, hustling his less than perfect RB8, compensating for its shortcomings, bouncing back, with his first win of the year, at the Grand Prix of Bahrain. Very impressive. At Bahrain, Vettel sunk the nail into the plank with one swing, proving beyond any doubt whatsoever, the only driver on this planet better with an imperfect car, than Hamilton and Alonso is, himself. Bahrain was not an Adrain Newey win. Bahrain was all Sebastian Vettel — asj.

  • Alonso_is_slow


    5 more laps and Vettel would have overtaken Fernando ‘Maximum’ Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen and would have won the race from last place with a car that was set up sub-optimally after not even being the fastest in qualifying, just in order to reach higher top speeds.

    He also made his big comeback in Brazil with a damaged and purposefully underrevved car.

    Looks like Vettel is lethal in damaged cars as well.

  • Rabih Habchy


  • evil-dee

    Cmon yalla be real !!
    Drive of the year most definitely belongs to King Lewis for his Austin drive,He’s beat the “supposed best” in the 3rd fastest car that day,disposing of Weber within 4 laps, hunting the “supposed best” down to see him make mistakes and then pass him, he was on another planet. Back to the “supposed best” in Abu Dhabi, don`t forget he had the opportunity to adjust his configuration for the race after opting to start from the pit-lane,imao a huge advantage over the rest, lady luck was with him that day.

  • Alonso_is_slow

    I’ll admit that vettel sucks