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Vettel and Red Bull triumphant at Yas Marina 01 Nov 2009

The podium (L to R): Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing, second; Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing, race winner; Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix, third.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 1 November 2009 The grid before the start of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 1 November 2009 Jenson Button (GBR) Brawn Grand Prix BGP 001 at the start of the race.
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 TF109.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 1 November 2009 Grid girls.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 1 November 2009

Once a brake problem slowed McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel had no competition in Sunday evening’s inaugural day/night Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. A brilliant win cemented his second place in the drivers’ world championship behind Brawn GP’s Jenson Button, who enlivened the end of the race with a superb challenge to the second-placed Red Bull of Mark Webber in the closing stages.

Hamilton led from pole and built a lead of 1.4s when he refuelled on the 17th lap. Vettel was able to run until the 20th, and emerged comfortably in the lead. Soon afterwards Hamilton’s challenge ended when McLaren had to withdraw his car after the telemetry revealed a problem with the right rear brake pads which were suffering from excessive wear.

Webber thus moved up to second, with Button at that stage a distant third ahead of Brawn GP team mate Rubens Barrichello. The Brazilian had run ahead of the Englishman on the opening lap but clipped Webber’s left-rear wheel with the right-hand endplate of his front wing, causing understeer. Button overtook, and chased after Webber while, at one stage, unsuccessfully fending off impressive rookie Kamui Kobayashi, until the Toyota driver finally refuelled.

In the closing stages Button found the softer Bridgestone option tyre cured the understeer he’d had on the harder primes and homed in on Webber like a heat-seeking missile. On the final lap he drew alongside at the end of the 1.2km back straight, but Webber handled the situation beautifully, hogging the inside line and forcing Button to go to the outside where he didn’t want to go. They ran side by side for a while, but the Australian was able to keep his second place by 0.6s.

Behind them, the race was relatively uneventful. Nick Heidfeld signed off BMW Sauber’s tenure as a joint team with a solid fifth place ahead of Kobayashi, who proved to be the find of the second half of the season. Toyota’s Jarno Trulli was seventh, two-stopping where Kobayashi stopped once, and Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi survived a challenge and a brush with BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica, which left the Pole spinning, to take the final point.

Nico Rosberg was ninth for Williams with a recovered Kubica 10th. McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen fought up from his 18th place start to take 11th, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s uncompetitive Ferrari, Kazuki Nakajima’s Williams, Fernando Alonso who took his Renault until the 34th lap before his sole refuelling stop, and similarly single-stopping Vitantonio Liuzzi whose Force India was the last unlapped runner.

Ferrari’s Giancarlo Fisichella jumped Romain Grosjean’s Renault in the closing laps for 16th, and the Franco Swiss driver was so unsettled that Force India’s Adrian Sutil also sneaked by.

Besides Hamilton, the only other retirement was Jaime Alguersuari. The Spaniard mistakenly tried to refuel in Vettel’s Red Bull pit instead of his own Toro Rosso camp and was frantically waved back round. He stopped soon after out on the track.

€n the constructors’ world championship, McLaren retained third place ahead of Ferrari, while Williams lost sixth at the last gasp by 1.5 points to BMW Sauber.