Sebastian Vettel continued in his effort to make Formula One races completely predictable by seizing the lead into the first turn of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and then effortlessly driving away from the field. Halfway through the race the four-time world champ had a thirty-second lead and was still setting fastest laps.
Vettel wasn’t seen again by the rest of the field, save by the drivers he lapped. He finished half-a-minute ahead of the field, did a few celebratory donuts, and was out of the car before the next car crossed the line.
The win at Abu Dhabi was Vettel’s seventh in a row, tying him with Michael Schumacher and bringing him closer to the record of nine set by Alberto Ascari in 1952–53. It also gives the Red Bull driver a shot at tying Schumacher’s 13 wins in a season set in 2004.
Mark Webber completed the Red Bull sweep by finishing almost three seconds ahead of third-placed Nico Rosberg of Mercedes. Webber started from the pole but fumbled the start; Vettel took the lead while Rosberg took second. Webber took the position back from the Mercedes driver on Lap 20 and held it for the rest of the 55-lap race.
Rosberg’s teammate Lewis Hamilton did not have a good day at all. After his rear suspension broke in the final seconds of qualifying Saturday, the team swapped out the entire rear end of the car overnight, then found a vibration and had to change the brakes on the grid just before the race.
Hamilton’s Mercedes never worked right, suffering excessive tire wear and overheating, eventually finish seventh.
Fernando Alonso turned in an excellent drive finishing fifth after qualifying only tenth. Ferrari tried an alternative tire strategy, stretching the middle stint on Medium tires and swapping to Softs with ten laps left. The strategy paid off; Felipe Massa, who was running just ahead of Alonso when Massa pitted on lap 38, ended up eighth.
Alonso’s finishing position was not official at press time, as stewards were examining an incident on lap 45 where Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne squeezed Alonso off the track as the Ferrari driver passed after exiting the pits.
Either way, Alonso has a good grip on second place in driver points over Kimi Räikkönen of Lotus.
Kimi Räikkonen had a terrible weekend. After being sent to the back of the grid for damage to the car’s floor incurred during qualifying, the Lotus driver was knocked out of the race heading into the first corner. Räikkönen tried to squeeze inside the Caterham of Giedo van der Garde, bounced off the left-hand curb, struck Pic, and broke a steering arm on the Lotus.
Nico Rosberg’s good result helped Mercedes in its quest to take second in the Constructor’s championship, stretching its lead over Ferrari from four to eleven points, 334–323. Red Bull locked up the title at India and is 179 points ahead.
Formula One comes to America for its next race, the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Tickets start at $45, and are available through the CotA website or through formula1.com.