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Abu Dhabi analysis - champion Vettel's perfect timing 15 Nov 2010

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrates with the team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 14 November 2010 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 14 November 2010 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari with King Juan Carlos of Spain on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 14 November 2010 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Renault R30. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 13 November 2010 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP walks in after crashing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 14 November 2010

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel led the driver standings just once during the 2010 season - at the very end. And while the German timed things to perfection with his faultless drive to victory at Yas Marina, his title rivals did quite the opposite. Both Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Red Bull’s Mark Webber were rendered powerless to challenge Vettel after premature tyre stops dropped them behind the perfectly driven Renault of Vitaly Petrov. We take a team-by-team look at the race that produced Formula One’s youngest-ever champion in the most unexpected fashion…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, P1
Mark Webber, P8

Vettel’s runaway victory, and the fact that team mate Webber and arch-rival Alonso were trapped behind Petrov in the midfield after their premature tyre stops, created the surprise of the season. The German took his fifth win of the year, and led the championship for the one and only time, just when it mattered. It was a superb performance that was fully deserving of the drivers’ championship, both for Vettel and for the team. Poor Webber’s chances simply slipped away in qualifying and he was unable to do anything about Alonso in the race. Red Bull had already won the constructors’ title, of course, and the result boosted their score to 498 over McLaren’s 454 and Ferrari’s 396. At the beginning of the year team boss Dietrich Mateschitz said a championship was imperative, and despite all the ups and downs, Red Bull delivered two instead.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, P2
Jenson Button, P3

For a while Hamilton pushed Vettel very hard, as the Red Bull’s tyres grained, but then Vettel pulled away, and once Hamilton got stuck behind long-running Kubica after his tyre switch on lap 23, that was all she wrote. Button ran a very long stint on the super-soft Bridgestones, but couldn’t open up a big enough gap over the Pole by the time he finally stopped. Overall, however, second and third places maintained McLaren’s second position in the constructors’ championship.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, P7
Felipe Massa, P10

Everything went wrong for Ferrari, in a race in which Alonso seemed a shoe-in for the title. He lost a place to Button at the start, then the decision to cover Webber with early pit stops for both Massa and Alonso put the red cars into the midfield traffic. Alonso could not pass early-stopping Petrov, and could only watch with mounting frustration as his championship chances slipped away in the wake of Vettel’s runaway drive.

Mercedes GP
Nico Rosberg, P4
Michael Schumacher, Retired lap 1, accident

A major gaffe from Schumacher saw the German veteran very lucky to escape serious injury when he spun and was hit head-on by an unsighted Liuzzi on the first lap. The decision to haul Rosberg in under the safety car and to switch to Bridgestone’s medium tyres was sublime, and a smooth but unobtrusive drive brought the German a well-deserved fourth place.

Renault
Robert Kubica, P5
Vitaly Petrov, P6

A brilliant drive from Kubica saw him do more overtaking than anyone and take a strong fifth place after starting 11th. Petrov also covered himself in glory with an excellent run, under tremendous pressure from Alonso and Webber all the way, to sixth.

Toro Rosso
Jaime Alguersuari, P10
Sebastien Buemi, P15

Alguersuari took his third points finish of the season. The Spaniard was another to change tyres after the safety car. Buemi said that even though P15 was not fantastic, he felt he had driven a great race, running a long opening stint on the mediums before his switch to super softs dropped him out of the points.

BMW Sauber
Nick Heidfeld, P11
Kamui Kobayashi, P14

Heidfeld lost places when he had to avoid Schumacher on the opening lap, and after that he was stuck in the midfield traffic. By pre-race agreement he thus pitted early, and that proved to be a great decision that made him three places but didn’t quite get him into the points. Kobayashi had another of his long opening stints on the super softs and ran as high as third on lap 24 before Kubica overtook. His tyre stop dropped him back out of the points on this occasion, and he couldn’t make up the lost ground.
Williams
Rubens Barrichello, P12
Nico Hulkenberg, P16

Barrichello had a great race with Sutil and passed the Force India after their late tyre stops with what he described as an exhilarating move in Turn Four, but the Brazilian was disappointed with his lowly finishing position. Hulkenberg said his first stint on mediums wasn’t great. Overall, however, ‘Team Willie’ achieved their aim of staying ahead of Force India for sixth place in the constructors’ standings.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, P13
Vitantonio Liuzzi, Retired lap 1, accident

Incredibly, Liuzzi was again involved in an accident not of his own making, when he was unsighted by team mate Sutil in Turn Six on the opening lap and suddenly found himself confronted with Schumacher’s spun Mercedes. The German was very lucky to escape injury in their head-on collision. Sutil drove another great race and was in the points for ages, until his tyre stop (from the mediums to the super softs) dropped him out of contention. Force India thus failed to beat Williams to reclaim sixth place overall, but seventh was still highly respectable.

Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen, P17
Jarno Trulli, P21

Yet another success for Lotus in the new teams’ stakes left them as the dominant team. Kovalainen was delighted with his race, but Trulli’s front wing began to droop at one stage, and later his rear wing broke up completely, both rare failures. He had to finish after 51 laps, but overall Lotus took the all-important 10th place in the championship.

Virgin
Lucas di Grassi, P18
Timo Glock, Retired lap 44, gearbox

Di Grassi said he enjoyed his run to 18th, but Glock had to call it a day when his gearbox temperatures became excessive.

HRT
Bruno Senna, P19
Christian Klien, P20

Senna had no problems, but Klien said it was really hot in his car. Once again, the HRT F110s were reliable, giving the team another double finish and keeping them ahead of Virgin in the final standings.

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