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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sebastian Vettel: Winner takes all in Abu Dhabi

Sebastian Vettel dominated the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, only surrendering the lead for his pit stop. Thanks to safety car, an early call by Mark Webber to change rubber, and Ferrari's attempt to cover Webber's strategy, the German becomes the sport's youngest ever champion.

Mercedes Formula One driver Michael Schumacher of Germany walks away from his car after crashing with Force India's Vitantonio Liuzzi of Italy during the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi November 14, 2010. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Tags: SPORT MOTOR RACING IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Vettel shot into the lead off the line, but Michael Schumacher's spin that resulted in a head on with Tonio Liuzzi led to the safety car that would change everything, as Vitaly Petrov and Nico Rosberg made the decision to pit immediately.

After the restart, Mark Webber struggled with his tires, and chose to pit early on lap 11. Determined to keep the Australian behind him, Ferrari and Fernando Alonso chose to come in a short time after. The result was both came out behind Petrov and Rosberg, in effect putting an end to their championship challenges.

Ferrari Formula One driver Fernando Alonso of Spain makes a pit stop during the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi November 14, 2010. REUTERS/Caren Firouz (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Tags: SPORT MOTOR RACING)

Vettel, meanwhile, charged off into the distance, pursued by Lewis Hamilton. A long run by Jenson Button put the 2009 champion into the lead when Vettel and Hamilton pitted, but his own stop restored order.

Vettel claimed to be in the dark about the championship situation until after he had crossed the line and Alonso's and Webber's places were official, but once told the powerful emotion of the situation was evident over the radio.

Hamilton was second and Button third in the McLarens.

Prior to the race, it looked as if Alonso had done all he needed to claim the title, as any Red Bull driver's championship would require one driver helping the other, and with the two so separated on the grid that seemed unlikely. Ironically, it was Webber's early stop which forced Ferrari into a strategic error and opened the door for Vettel.

So as the sun set in Abu Dhabi, so it set on the 2010 season, perhaps the most exciting in recent memory. Five drivers in the hunt before the penultimate race, four in contention for the finale.

Red Bull members celebrate with Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany as he wins the championship and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi November 14, 2010. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Tags: SPORT MOTOR RACING)

And after the race, as 2010's finest piece of machinery, the RB6, sat obsolete near the podium, we look ahead to 2011. Young drivers and new rubber will be tested in the coming days, and after a short break, teams will unveil their new challengers. So it is in Formula 1 -- a moment to savor a hard fought victory, then back at it.

  1. Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull-Renault 1hr 39mins 36.837secs
  2. Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren +00:10.162
  3. Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 00:11.047
  4. Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 00:30.747
  5. Robert Kubica (Poland) Renault 00:39.026
  6. Vitaly Petrov (Russia) Renault 00:43.520
  7. Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 00:43.797
  8. Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull-Renault 00:44.243
  9. Jaime Alguersuari (Spain) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 00:50.201
  10. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 00:50.868
  11. Nick Heidfeld (Germany) BMW Sauber-Ferrari 00:51.551
  12. Rubens Barrichello (Brazil) Williams-Cosworth 00:57.686
  13. Adrian Sutil (Germany) Force India-Mercedes 00:58.325
  14. Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) BMW Sauber-Ferrari 00:59.558
  15. Sebastien Buemi (Switzerland) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 01:03.178
  16. Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Williams-Cosworth 01:04.763
  17. Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Lotus - Cosworth 1 lap
  18. Lucas Di Grassi (Brazil) Virgin - Cosworth 2 laps
  19. Bruno Senna (Brazil) HRT - Cosworth 2 laps
  20. Christian Klien (Austria) HRT - Cosworth 2 laps
  21. Jarno Trulli (Italy) Lotus - Cosworth 4 laps
  • Timo Glock (Germany) Virgin - Cosworth 12 laps
  • Michael Schumacher (Germany) Mercedes 55 laps
  • Vitantonio Liuzzi (Italy) Force India-Mercedes 55 laps

Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany (C) emotionally celebrates his championship and Grand Prix win on the podium with Britain's McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button (R) at the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi November 14, 2010. REUTERS/Steve Crisp (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Tags: SPORT MOTOR RACING)

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