Vettel and Red Bull triumphant at Yas Marina 01 Nov 2009
Once a brake problem slowed McLarens Lewis Hamilton, Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel had no competition in Sunday evenings inaugural day/night Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. A brilliant win cemented his second place in the drivers world championship behind Brawn GPs 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 Hamiltons 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 Webbers 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 hed 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 didnt 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 Saubers 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. Toyotas Jarno Trulli was seventh, two-stopping where Kobayashi stopped once, and Toro Rossos Sebastien Buemi survived a challenge and a brush with BMW Saubers Robert Kubica, which left the Pole spinning, to take the final point.
Nico Rosberg was ninth for Williams with a recovered Kubica 10th. McLarens Heikki Kovalainen fought up from his 18th place start to take 11th, ahead of Kimi Raikkonens uncompetitive Ferrari, Kazuki Nakajimas 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.
Ferraris Giancarlo Fisichella jumped Romain Grosjeans Renault in the closing laps for 16th, and the Franco Swiss driver was so unsettled that Force Indias Adrian Sutil also sneaked by.
Besides Hamilton, the only other retirement was Jaime Alguersuari. The Spaniard mistakenly tried to refuel in Vettels 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.