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Sebastian Vettel wins Abu Dhabi GP to capture F1 title

Sebastian Vettel

Highlights - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

By David Ornstein

Sebastian Vettel drove a masterful race to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and lift his maiden Formula 1 world title.

The 23-year-old Red Bull driver was third in the standings but led from pole and saw other results go his way to become the youngest champion.

Ferrari's championship leader Fernando Alonso came seventh, with Red Bull's other title hope Mark Webber eighth.

Lewis Hamilton, who had a slim title chance, finished second and his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button was third.

It was a dramatic end to an enthralling season and gave Red Bull, who sealed the constructors' championship with Vettel's victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix, their first drivers' title.

The final standings had Vettel top on 256 points, four clear of Alonso in second, 14 above third-place Webber and 16 in front of Hamilton in fourth.


"I'm a bit stressed to be honest, I don't know what I'm supposed to say," Vettel, who had not previously led this season's championship, told BBC Sport.

"It's been an incredible year, we've always kept believing in the team, and the car, and I have kept believing in myself.

"I'm speechless! The car was phenomenal. The start was crucial, and it was very tight with Lewis, but after that it settled down."

Alonso arrived at the Yas Marina Circuit on 246 points, eight ahead of Webber and in control of his own destiny.

The Spaniard needed to finish first or second to guarantee the title or a top-five placing if Vettel triumphed. But neither he nor Webber fully recovered from early tyre changes which left them way down the field.

"This is sport - sometimes you win, sometimes you lose," said Alonso, who was bidding for a third world title and his first with Ferrari. "Next year we try again.

"It was very good, for me especially after two years of some difficulties, coming back to winning races, fighting for the championship. I'm sure with this team it is very possible to fight for championships in the future, so I am happy."

Webber added: "Congratulations to Seb and to the team, two world championships, that's not a bad season. There's quite a few emotions when you just miss out. It's a shame.

Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button

Top three drivers - Abu Dhabi GP

"I tried my absolute best, I had great guys around me, in the end it wasn't quite enough. Yes [I will be here at Red Bull next season]. It didn't go my way in the end, but that's sport"

Vettel started from the front of the grid after a scintillating display in qualifying, with Hamilton second, Alonso third, Button fourth and Webber fifth.

A superb start from Button pushed Alonso down to fourth but he managed to keep Webber at bay before a nasty collision between Michael Schumacher and Vitantonio Liuzzi at Turn Six saw the safety car deployed for four laps.

Once the debris had been cleared Vettel set about using the open track to pull away, while Hamilton and Button worked hard to respond and Alonso focused on staying ahead of Webber.

The Australian was struggling for pace and shortly after scraping a barrier at Turn 19 on lap eight, he pitted to switch from the softer option tyres to the harder prime variant.

It was a huge gamble from Red Bull and it backfired as Webber emerged from the pits in 16th and got stuck behind the Torro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari.

Ferrari responded by calling Felipe Massa in, hoping he would emerge from the pits in front of Webber and further delay the Red Bull driver. But he did not and Webber was able to accelerate.

Fernando Alonso

Alonso frustrated as title slips away

Clearly viewing Webber as their principal threat, Ferrari decided to bring Alonso in for hard tyres at the end of lap 15 and, despite almost ploughing into a wall before entering the pits, he managed to come out just ahead of Webber.

But all the while Vettel was surging clear at the front and building an advantage - 28 seconds at one point - which would enable him to change tyres and regain the lead once his closest challengers had done likewise.

The defining moment came when Red Bull called Vettel in on lap 24 and he managed to come out in second place - behind Button, who was yet to pit, and in front of Hamilton, who pitted on lap 23.

Down in 11th, Alonso was leading Webber but could not get past Renault's Vitaly Petrov. Although the pair benefitted from a couple of other drivers pitting, Petrov would prove unmoveable.

Vettel, meanwhile, was in the midst of a magnificent performance, setting fastest laps and gradually extending his advantage as the race drew to a close.

Renault's Robert Kubica had made his way up to second but Hamilton and Button were snapping at his heels and when the Pole came in at the end of lap 46, the Englishmen were able to resume their pursuit of Vettel.

All eyes were on whether Kubica could emerge from the pits ahead of Alonso. This was surely Alonso's last realistic hope - and when the Renault came out in front of the Ferrari, that hope all but died.

With Vettel desperate to look after his car and avoid any last-minute glitches, Hamilton was able to gain on the German.

But it was too little too late and a tearful Vettel took the chequered flag for his fifth win of the season and the fiercely-contested title, sparking ecstatic scenes in the Red Bull garage.

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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

RaceLast updated: 15 Nov 2012 12:34 UK
Position Country Driver Race Time
1 germany S Vettel 1:39:36.837
2 great britain L Hamilton 1:39:46.999
3 great britain J Button 1:39:47.884
4 germany N Rosberg 1:40:07.584
5 poland R Kubica 1:40:15.863
6 russian federation V Petrov 1:40:20.357
7 spain F Alonso 1:40:20.634
8 australia M Webber 1:40:21.080
9 spain J Alguersuari 1:40:27.038
10 brazil F Massa 1:40:27.705

see also
Vettel 'kept believing' in title
14 Nov 10 |  Formula 1
Alonso defends strategy decision
14 Nov 10 |  Formula 1
Webber downbeat as title bid ends
14 Nov 10 |  Formula 1
Hamilton targets McLaren comeback
14 Nov 10 |  Formula 1
Abu Dhabi GP as it happened
14 Nov 10 |  Formula 1
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix photos
14 Nov 10 |  Formula 1
Vettel storms to Abu Dhabi pole
13 Nov 10 |  Formula 1

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