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Abu Dhabi race analysis - Red Bull finish 2009 season on a high 02 Nov 2009

Race winner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrates with the team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 1 November 2009 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB5 leads Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix BGP 001.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 1 November 2009 Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.09. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 1 November 2009 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 1 November 2009 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/24.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 1 November 2009

They may not have won either championship, but they did dominate the latter part of the '09 season. Sebastian Vettel’s imperious performance at Yas Marina gave Red Bull Racing their third win on the trot, with Mark Webber’s second place securing their fourth one-two of the year. But it wasn’t only Red Bull celebrating on Sunday night. The inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - F1 racing’s first twilight event - was deemed a huge success by all concerned and threw up some thrilling action, most notably Webber’s duel with Jenson Button. We take a team-by-team look at the race…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel P1
Mark Webber, P2

Once Hamilton ran into brake problems, Vettel was untouchable as he roared to his fourth victory of the season in tremendous style. Webber admired that he couldn’t quite match him this time and later lost a lot of ground to Button when his RB5 did not prove well suited to the softer Bridgestone option tyre. He said it lacked feel, was less stable than the harder prime, and cost him vital fractions in each corner, but he kept his head and always put his car where Button wanted to put his Brawn. Great stuff! The success left the team second overall in both championships, and celebrating six wins and 16 podiums, a mighty impressive tally.

Jenson Button, P3
Rubens Barrichello, P4

Button was very happy to be a fighting third, right in Webber’s wheel tracks, but thought in hindsight that two stints on the option tyre might have been better than two on the prime, which had been the better tyre in practice and qualifying. For him, it promoted understeer in the race conditions, and he was delighted to find his BGP001 transformed after his final stop and the switch to the option. Barrichello damaged his right front wing endplate in a brush against Webber’s left rear wheel on the opening lap, and promoted understeer that held him back to fourth and prevented him regaining second place in the championship from Vettel.

BMW Sauber
Nick Heidfeld, P5
Robert Kubica, P10

BMW signed off in style as Heidfeld bagged a strong fifth place, not quite able to run with the top four but comfortably ahead of the rest. He ran at Brawn pace for a while, and a long middle stint paid off. The result moved the team up to sixth place overall, at Williams’ expense. Kubica was also a challenger for points, until his second stint was very slow after he’d started well. The Pole wasn’t impressed with Buemi, with whom he raced wheel to wheel until spinning, and said that the Swiss left him no racing room at all. Kubica also raced with signatures from all the team personnel on his helmet, prior to his switch to Renault for 2010.

Kamui Kobayashi, P6
Jarno Trulli, P7

Kobayashi drove a storming race to take sixth place and was easily the best of the single stoppers. His dice with Button was a highlight of the race even if their respective fuel loads were very different. Trulli’s seventh place brought Toyota’s season score to 59.5 points, leaving them fifth behind Brawn, Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Buemi, P8
Jaime Alguersuari, Retired lap 18, gearbox

Once again Buemi scored for Toro Rosso, but one point for a well-driven eighth was not enough to move them above 10th place overall. Alguersuari was one of the race’s two retirements; after trying to use Vettel’s pit when he tried to get attention to a gearbox problem and his own team were not expecting him, the Spaniard stopped out on the circuit the next lap when the gearbox broke.

Nico Rosberg, P9
Kazuki Nakajima, P13

Rosberg simply didn’t have the pace to do better than ninth, and as a result Williams slipped down to seventh place overall as BMW Sauber scored well with Heidfeld. Nakajima’s 13th place cemented his failure to score a single point over the season. All change for 2010?

Heikki Kovalainen, P11
Lewis Hamilton, Retired lap 20, brakes

Hamilton said all weekend that the MP4-24 was the best it’s been all year here, and he led away comfortably until he began to experience problems with excessive right rear brake pad wear just before his pit stop. The team put him into a brake conservation mode, but the problem persisted and on lap 20 there was no alternative but to withdraw the car on safety grounds. Kovalainen made a great start thanks to his KERS, to jump from 18th to 13th, but it didn’t get better than that. His single-stop strategy meant he was more often than not in a fuel heavy car when it mattered most, and when the KERS packed up in his second stint his chances of improving further evaporated.

Kimi Raikkonen, P12
Giancarlo Fisichella, P16

The Ferrari F60 came to the end of its useful life here, and it seemed tired and uncompetitive due to the lack of development. Raikkonen pushed hard and did what he could, but lost time when running light on fuel when the two Brawns came out of their pit stops just ahead of him. He felt that cost him his chance of points. Fisichella headed a train down the back for some time, and his undistinguished Ferrari race career came to an end with a lowly 16th place. The team were thus unable to fight back ahead of McLaren, and finished fourth overall.

Fernando Alonso, P14
Romain Grosjean, P18

Alonso ran 34 laps on his first fuel load, and thus vaulted from an initial 17th place (after overtaking Grosjean) to finish 14th in his last outing for Renault. That said it all about the R29 here. The Franco Swiss driver ran quite well until he got surprised by Fisichella near the end, and as he ran very wide he also lost a place to Sutil and thus finished 18th and last.

Force India
Tonio Liuzzi, P15
Adrian Sutil, P17

Liuzzi made a super start and got the maximum out of his VJM02 on a circuit that did nothing to play to its strengths. Once he switched to the option tyre he ran into the sort of problem that Webber experienced, and plenty of oversteer. Sutil ran last for a long time, but made up some ground when he was switched to a two-stop strategy as his first set of tyres proved problematic. Right at the end he was able to capitalise when Fisichella surprised Grosjean, to move past the Renault driver for 17th.