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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Vettel triumphant as sun sets on 2009 season

Sebastian Vettel won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Sunday ahead of teammate Mark Webber, nailing down second place in the drivers championship in the final race of the 2009 season.

F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Race

Getting by a dominating Lewis Hamilton in the first round of stops, Vettel cruised to victory as twilight turned to night at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Hamilton had led from the start, but after losing the lead to Vettel, he was forced to retire with a brake problem, an oddly fitting end to a disappointing season for the Briton.

That put Webber into second, and the Australian held off a charging Jenson Button in the closing laps of the race to secure second on the podium. The newly-crowned world champion was third.

Final races of the season are filled with farewells. Rubens Barrichello, likely in his last race for Brawn, finished fourth. Nick Heidfeld was fifth in the final race for this version of BMW Sauber, perhaps ever.

But it is also a time for drivers to stake claims to race seats, and that is what impressive rookie Kamui Kobayashi did by claiming his first points for Toyota, taking sixth ahead of veteran Jarno Trulli (who is likely on his way out).

Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi took the final point.

Retirements were few, only Jaime Alguersuari joining Hamilton. A gearbox was blamed, but one had to wonder if mistakenly stopping at sister squad Red Bull’s pit box for refueling may have resulted in the young Spaniard running dry.

So, with the last race of the season in the books, McLaren takes third in the constructors championship, while Heidfeld’s points vaulted BMW Sauber ahead of Williams for sixth. In the drivers, behind Button and Vettel, Barrichello holds on to third and Mark Webber finished the season fourth.

Major changes are in store for next year. New teams on the expanded grid, BMW Sauber’s future uncertain, Alonso’s Ferrari debut, refueling out the window, and the abandonment of KERS just a few of the wild cards. It should make things plenty interesting in the months leading up to the 2010 season opener March 14th in Bahrain.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - 55 laps
  1. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault
  2. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault
  3. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes
  4. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes
  5. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
  6. Kamui Kobayashi, Toyota
  7. Jarno Trulli, Toyota
  8. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari
  9. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota
  10. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
  11. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes
  12. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
  13. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota
  14. Fernando Alonso, Renault
  15. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India-Mercedes
  16. Giancarlo Fisichella, Ferrari, 1 lap
  17. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes, 1 lap
  18. Romain Grosjean, Renault, 1 lap
  • Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, 20 laps, Brakes
  • Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso-Ferrari, 18 laps, Gearbox

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