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Abu Dhabi analysis - don’t call it a comeback 14 Nov 2011

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren celebrates with his Mother Carmen Lockhart (GBR).
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 13 November 2011 Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren in parc ferme. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 13 November 2011 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB7 with a puncture that lead to his retirement. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 13 November 2011 Second placed Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari 150 Italia in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 13 November 2011 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02 and Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 13 November 2011 Adrian Sutil (GER) Sahara Force India Formula One Team VJM04 makes a pit stop. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 13 November 2011 Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 13 November 2011 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW33.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 12 November 2011 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) HRT Formula One Team HRT F111 and Bruno Senna (BRA) Lotus Renault GP R31. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 13 November 2011 Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR6.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 11 November 2011 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Team Lotus T128.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 13 November 2011 Timo Glock (GER) Virgin Racing MVR-02. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 12 November 2011 Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) HRT Formula 1 Team F111.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 13 November 2011

Lewis Hamilton’s recent troubles have been well documented. Perhaps no surprise then that he described his superb Yas Marina win as ‘good for the soul’. And with team mate Jenson Button joining him on the podium, it was good for McLaren too. Sebastian Vettel may have gone out on lap one, but Hamilton had been quickest all weekend - he even set the fastest qualifying lap, albeit not when it really counted - and always looked a good bet to take his third victory of 2011. We review Sunday’s Grand Prix team by team…

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, P1
Jenson Button, P3

From the moment that fast-starting Vettel spun off, Hamilton owned the Abu Dhabi race. Alonso kept him honest, but Hamilton always had the pace to open up a gap whenever the Spaniard reduced it, and his and McLaren’s victory was richly deserved after all his recent troubles. It also brought him level with Button, three 2011 wins each, though he cannot now beat the latter to second place overall. Button’s race was marred by intermittent functioning of his KERS. He could reset it, but then it would stop working again without warning, necessitating further juggling of the system and the brake balance. A podium finish was thus a big bonus in such tricky circumstances.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, P4
Sebastian Vettel, retired lap 1, suspension/tyre

The sensation of the race was Vettel’s early retirement, which may have been caused by a simple puncture, or perhaps by car components fouling the wheel/tyre. The team went to great lengths to disguise whatever the cause was. Thereafter Webber flew the flag, and had good early pace against Button and Massa until a sticky rear wheel nut lost him time in his first stop. With little to lose the team switched him to a three-stop strategy, two more sets of soft tyres enabling him to set fastest lap and to snatch third from Button until he had to stop on the penultimate lap to make the mandatory switch to mediums. His resultant fourth place thus made this the first time that Red Bull have failed to finish on the podium this season.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, P2
Felipe Massa, P5

Alonso had a superb opening lap which set him up to keep Hamilton honest for the rest of the afternoon. The Spaniard got held up by Ricciardo entering the pits on lap 43, having run two laps longer than Hamilton, and that hampered the potential to get out still in the lead. Such was his pace on mediums thereafter, however, that he admitted he could not have kept the McLaren at bay anyway. Massa had a strong race until he ran over debris from a Williams, and then spun briefly as he struggled for grip on the medium tyres. Nevertheless, it was a good day for the Scuderia, with second and fifth places.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, P6
Michael Schumacher, P7

The two Mercedes had a real dust-up in the opening laps before Rosberg established superiority over Schumacher, whose car suffered damage which hurt its balance in a clash with Massa. Later the older German was also slowed by a slow puncture.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, P8
Paul di Resta, P9

Force India switched Sutil to a two-stop strategy after considering a single stopper, and were rewarded by a smooth and strong drive to eighth. They kept Di Resta on a one-stop, and though that wasn’t the answer the Scot drove well to bring his car home ninth for two more valuable points which have virtually ensured the team of its sixth place overall in the constructors’ table.

Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, P10
Sergio Perez, P11

Perez was in the pits on lap two with a front wing damaged on Sutil’s Force India, necessitating a climb back to the lower points positions before his tyres went off and his KERS malfunctioned. Kobayashi’s gamble to start on mediums lasted five laps before they were finished, but thereafter he battled back on softs to score the final point.

Williams
Rubens Barrichello, P12
Pastor Maldonado, P14

Barrichello drove a strong race to climb from 24th to 12th, within a second of Perez, but Maldonado got one drive-through for ignoring blue flags and, post-race, a 30-second time penalty for his fight with Alguersuari which saw both badly impede Webber and Massa.

Renault
Vitaly Petrov, P13
Bruno Senna, P16

Renault had a brutal race, with Petrov’s DRS not working and Senna suffering without KERS.

Toro Rosso
Jaime Alguersuari, P15
Sebastien Buemi, retired lap 20, hydraulics

Buemi was the team’s star this day, harrying Di Resta until his hydraulics malfunctioned, but Alguersuari drew criticism, and a post-race 20-second ‘drive-through’ penalty, for getting badly in the way of Webber and Massa as they battled for fourth place.

Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen, P17
Jarno Trulli, P18

Kovalainen had yet another feisty race for Lotus, at one stage running as high as 13th before he was gradually overhauled, to finish a lap ahead of team mate Trulli.

Virgin
Timo Glock, P19
Jerome d'Ambrosio, retired lap 19, brakes

Glock had an uneventful run to 19th, but D’Ambrosio’s fight with the HRTs was brought to a premature end by brake problems.

HRT
Tonio Liuzzi, P20
Daniel Ricciardo, retired lap 49, electrics

Liuzzi made a tremendous start, after opting to do a one-stop strategy, but he was soon hauled in as his F111 suffered from the same wayward handling that had affected it in practice. He was able to soldier home last, but team mate Ricciardo, whose two-stop strategy was much better, dropped out with electrical failure.

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