Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Race

It’s the final race of the season and there are 4 drivers with a mathematical chance to win the Drivers’ Championship: Alonso, Webber, Vettel and Hamilton.

The provisional grid set yesterday: SV, LH, FA, JB, MW, FM, RB, MS, NR, VP, RK, KK, AS, NHe, NHu, VL, JA, SB, JT, HK, TG, LdG, BS, CK.

SV leads everyone away on the formation lap

RK is on the prime (hard) tyre whereas all the top 10 are
on the option (super-soft) tyres on which they qualified

FA gets a little close to LH’s rear wing as they warm their tyres and brakes

01/55: JB through to P3 off the grid
NR and MS make contact; MS spins; MS heads towards oncoming traffic; head-on crash with VL – big crash!
Safety Car deployed

02[SC]: SV, LH, JB, FA, MW, FM, RB
NR pits, as do AS, JA, BS, LdG, CK
Replay shows there was the lightest of contact between NR and MS
What was Schumacher thinking trying to drive off towards the oncoming pack???

03[SC]: SV, LH, JB, FA, MW, FM, RB, KK, AS, RK; retirements: MS, VL
Pit-car radio from LH asking if his front wing is OK

04[SC]: Marshals are still clearing up the debris … just two marshals though – come on!

05/55[SC]: Drivers have been told to resume using Turn 5 instead of cutting the corner
Safety Car in at the end of this lap
SV going very slowly – LH almost passed him

06: Green flags = racing again
RK round the outside of AS to take P9

07: SV, LH, JB, FA, MW, FM, RB, KK, RK, AS; retirements: MS, VL
SV fastest lap 1:46.549
KK takes a look at RB but can’t make the move for P7 stick

08: SV f/lap 1:45.615
FA is a little off the pace but he doesn’t need to be quick – he just has to keep MW behind him and FA becomes World Champion

09: SV f/lap 1:45.337
Replay of MW kissing the barrier, throwing sparks of his rear right wheel
NR takes P13 from NHu

10/56: LH a fraction quicker than SV but he’s still 2sec behind

12: Red Bull mechanics rushing to get ready for a pit stop … and MW pits – clean stop – rejoins on P16
Ferrari look like they’re preparing for a stop too … but call it off

13: BBC report MW’s rear tyres were quite worn

14: FM pits from P5 – rejoins behind MW
MW thought about passing JA but backed off
MW takes P15 from the Toro Rosso

15/55: FA a bit sideways but just missed the wall

16: MW f/lap 1:45.086
FA pits from P4 – rejoins still ahead of MW
JA squirms under braking as FM rushes up behind

18: NHe f/lap 1:44.982

19: RB pits from P4

20/55: NHe f/lap 1:44.636

21: FA closing on VP, who’s already pitted
Pit-car radio for FA says “I know you’re doing your best but you’ve got to pass him” (meaning VP)

22: MW just 0.7sec behind FA

23: FA takes a look at VP – did he tap the Renault’s rear? – FA runs wide across the corner

24: LH pits from P2 – good stop – rejoins in P5, behind RK

25/55: SV pits from P1 – just squeaks ahead of KK
KK and RK fighting for P3 – that’s holding up LH

26: JB f/lap 1:44.339
Pit-car radio from LH asking how SV managed to get so far ahead – told it was his pace through the pit stops

27: LH down the inside of KK to take P4
SV f/lap 1:43.564

Half distance

28: LH still chasing RK for P3
Replay of JT with a damaged front wing – he’s behind his team-mate – was there contact?

29: FA pushing hard – runs a little wide but MW isn’t close enough to take advantage

30/55: JT pits for a new front wing – bit of a struggle to get it off
LH almost taps the rear of RK he’s so close!
LH weaving behind RK but he can’t find a place to attack

31: SV f/lap 1:43.302
RK leaves the door open – swoops back across as LH tries to pass

32: BBC report that the Ferrari garage are frustrated that FA can’t pass VP
Pit-car radio from LH saying his front left is off and he needs to replace them – engineer says no pit stop unless they absolutely have to
SV is running away with the Drivers’ Championship
Replay of LH locking up his front left

33: JB still leading the race – McLaren need him to finish on the podium in order to take P2 in the Constructors’ Championship

34: KK pits from P5

35/55: JB, SV, RK, LH, AS, SB, NR, NHu, VP, FA; retirements: MS, VL
SV f/lap 1:42.942

36: Yet to pit are JB, RK, AS, SB, NHu, HK & TG

37: NHu pits, which means FA now P9
LH still frustrated behind RK

38: SV f/lap 1:42.705
SB pits
Interesting thought: it’s SV in a Renault-powered Red Bull that’s looking like winning the championship right now; LH is behind the Renault of RK; FA is behind the Renault of VP. Hmmmmm.

39: BBC make the same point I just did about Renault 🙂

40/55: JB pits from P1 – rejoins in P4 behind his team-mate

41: The four Championship contenders: SV=P1, LH=P3, FA=P8, MW=P9

42: JB f/lap 1:42.401
Pit-car radio from SV reporting a problem with his radio … just in case they tell him to concede to MW? 🙂

43: JB f/lap 1:42.380
Just RK & AS yet to pit

44: FA getting the call to make a move on VP – he needs to be in P4 unless SV has a problem

45/55: SV, RK, LH, JB, AS, NR, VP, FA, MW, JA; retirements: MS, VL

46: TG has pulled off track and retired the Virgin car

47: RK pits from P2, which is a huge relief for LH
LH f/lap 1:42.268
RK rejoins ahead of VP
Replay shows RK crossed a white line on the pit exit – will he be penalised? He didn’t enter the track so maybe not

48: LH f/lap 1:41.274
AS pits from P4 – that’s everyone done their mandatory tyre change now – rejoins in P12

49: LH is 10.7sec behind SV but he also needs SV, MW and FA not to finish
LH and JB finishing P2+3 will give McLaren P2 in the Constructors’

50/55: SV, LH, JB, NR, RK, VP, FA, MW, JA, FM; retirements: MS, VL
FA runs wide twice

51: Pit-car radio for MW urging him to attack FA

52: VP still ahead of FA and MW – even if FA passes VP, he’s got to pass RK and NR too
FA runs wide yet again

53: Looking very easy for SV

54: Lots of tense faces in the Red Bull garage
Rear wing ripping off JT’s Lotus
JT pits

55/55 = final lap: SV still 10sec ahead of LH

SV takes the chequered flag
LH with JB right behind him
NR over the line – *now* SV is World Champion
P5=RK, 6=VP, 7=FA, 8=MW, 9=JA, 10=FM

Pit-car radio telling SV he’s World Champion; SV in tears 🙂

FA alongside VP on the cool down lap – waves his fist at VP … because it’s VP’s fault for not jumping out the way? Pffft!

SV pulls in to parc ferme and puts his head in his hands
Congratulations from LH – SV now the youngest WC
Monza written on his balaclava – that was when he become the youngest pole-sitter

Commiserations for FA in the Ferrari garage

SV on the podium – almost in tears again
The party’s already started in the Red Bull garage!

Post-race drivers’ interviews:
SV: first time he’s lead the Drivers’ points is today!; tried not to think about the championship before the race; car “was a dream”; didn’t know where everyone was so didn’t know he’d won until his engineer told him
LH: pit stop timing – “sure the team did everything for the right reasons”; “next year will be a better year”
JB: tried to time pit stop to jump Kubica but had more tyre degredation
SV: “race went phenomenally well”; “Renault played a big part in this race”