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Race - Hamilton victorious after early Vettel exit 13 Nov 2011

Race winner Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren celebrates on the podium.
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 leads at the start of the race.
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 heads to the pits on the first lap and retirement with a punctured rear tyre.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 13 November 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 Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) HRT Formula 1 Team F111 and Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) HRT Formula 1 Team HRT F111 at the start of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 13 November 2011 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari 150 Italia. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 13 November 2011 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari celebrates his second position on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 13 November 2011

All weekend there were signs that Lewis Hamilton’s mojo was coming back, and a dominant victory in Abu Dhabi was just what the McLaren driver needed. In celebration, he dedicated it to his mother Carmen, whose birthday it was.

He was helped immeasurably as Sebastian Vettel spun into retirement in the second corner as his right-rear tyre came off the rim of his Red Bull, but it wasn’t an easy run to the flag as Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso grabbed second place from McLaren’s Jenson Button on the opening lap and thereafter kept him honest.

The Spaniard led the 41st to 43rd laps after staying out longer than Hamilton in their second stints, but by the flag the Englishman was 8.4s ahead after controlling the race throughout.

Button’s chances of making it a McLaren one-two were damaged by a KERS problem that affected him right from the start, and left him prey for a while to Red Bull’s Mark Webber, who gambled on a three-stop run after a botched first pit stop. The Australian set a string of fastest laps on a third set of soft Pirellis before dropping back to fourth after a 54th lap stop to switch to the mediums.

Behind them, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was a threat for a long time until he hit debris thrown off Pastor Maldonado’s Williams, then spun, but the Brazilian stayed ahead of Nico Rosberg, who did a very long second stint before also pitting late for medium tyres. He was a long way ahead of Mercedes team mate Michael Schumacher, who had Force India’s Adrian Sutil only 1.1s behind him by the flag.

Sutil’s performance, and that of single-stopping team mate Paul di Resta who followed him home, helped Force India to cement their sixth place overall as a very strong recovery drive from Kamui Kobayashi earned Sauber the final point after both their drivers had been forced to make early pit stops. Sergio Perez in the other Sauber was 11th, just holding off Rubens Barrichello’s Williams which started from the very back.

Renault’s Vitaly Petrov was 13th ahead of Williams’ Pastor Maldonado and Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari. The latter pair made themselves hugely unpopular after blocking Webber and Massa brutally partway through, and the stewards handed them penalties after the race. Maldonado had already received a drive-through penalty for ignoring blue flags, as had Renault’s Bruno Senna, who finished 16th. Maldonado and Alguersuari ultimately kept their 14th and 15th place finishes, even with 30 and 20 seconds respectively added to their race times for their misdemeanours.

Heikki Kovalainen had yet another of his feisty races for Lotus, finishing 17th after running 13th at one stage, and he was a lap ahead of team mate Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock’s Virgin and Tonio Liuzzi’s HRT.

Besides Vettel, Jerome D’Ambrosio retired his Virgin with brake problems, Sebastien Buemi’s Toro Rosso stopped as he was fighting hard with Di Resta, and Daniel Ricciardo’s HRT broke down towards the end.

Hamilton’s win brings him to 227 points, but leaves him still fifth behind Vettel on 374, Button on 255, Alonso on 245 and Webber on 233. It means Hamilton cannot now finish second in the table, nor overhaul team mate Button.

Webber set his sixth fastest lap of the season meaning he now cannot be caught in the 2011 DHL Fastest Lap Award standings.

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