Sebastian Vettel produced yet another dominant display to win the Abu Dhabi grands prix, his seventh race win in a row. Vettel blasted past his team mate, Mark Webber, at the start and delicately managed his tyres while maintaining a blistering pace to win comfortably.
Webber is still searching for his first win of his final season in F1 but he continually undoes all his excellent qualifying work with poor starts and heavy tyre degradation. One last hurrah looks unlikely now.
Here he salvaged second after falling behind Vettel and Rosberg at the start as he pulled off a masterful overtake on the Mercedes and kept his pace consistent enough to see off the alternative strategy deployed by Lotus’s Romain Grosjean. Grosjean impressed again but he ultimately couldn’t make his strategy work and finished fourth.
The Frenchman, who is contracted for next season, decided to run longer on his tyres then Webber and Rosberg and not follow them into the pits each time they came in for fresh tyres. Instead he opted to stay out and hope that would propel him past them both. It was a valiant effort but ultimately he fell short. The way he dealt with the pressure from Hamilton behind him towards the start was further evidence of his drastic improvements as a driver and Hamilton’s slow demise.
The Mercedes driver suffered another frustrating weekend as he couldn’t attain the right levels of grip on a consistent basis. Being stuck in the middle of a fight between Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg took precious life out of his tyres, slowing him down for large parts of his stint.
The Brit’s season has fizzled out yet again and next season is crucial for him. Another underwhelming year could see him slip into obscurity, wasting the undoubted talent he has. For the sport to bite back at the dominance of Red Bull, it needs Hamilton at the forefront and his comments earlier this week, that he wouldn’t be so bothered if he never won a championship again, are worrying.
Fernando Alonso is another who needs to rediscover his mojo in time for next season and his unreserved self-belief will see him do that. Today he maximised the Ferrari’s potential to finish 5th after starting from 11th. Ferrari’s struggles on the Pirelli tyres were shown to such a large extent in the Arab desert. Both Alonso and Massa were forced into one stop strategies, but still failed in their attempt to stay out longer. A late switch to fresh tyres gave the double world champion the opportunity to catch and past several cars ahead, including Hamilton.
His desire to beat his team mate, Felipe Massa, on race day continues to motivate him. Massa has improved remarkably since being told he was leaving the team this winter but even his usurp in performances couldn’t see him hold off his team mate today under the setting Abu Dhabi sun.
One of Massa’s rivals for a spot in the sport next season, Paul di Resta, made a timely return to form with a creditable 6th ahead of both Hamilton and Massa. The Scot’s tyre management was key to his result and it was a return to his form from the first half of the season. Pirelli’s tyre change hurt the Force India team badly but positive performances in the final two races of 2013 could save di Resta’s F1 career.
It was a disastrous weekend for Kimi Raikkonen who, after being disqualified from qualifying due to a failed front floor deflection test, started from last on the grid. A first corner crash with Giedo van der Garde‘s Caterham ended his race prematurely. It is still unclear whether we will see the Finn again this season with his pay dispute with Lotus still unresolved, but fans can start salivating about his return to Ferrari and his partnership with Alonso for next year.
However that is for the future, but in the present Sebastian Vettel dominates still. Victory in Austin, USA in two weeks will see him win a record 8th straight win, and you would be a fool to bet against that.
Fastest times of the day by compound:
|Soft Compound||Medium Compound|
|Alonso – 01:43.434||Vettel – 01:43.434|
|Bottas – 01:44.351||Grosjean – 01:44.301|
|Sutil – 01:45.609||Webber – 01:44.364|
Longest stint of the race:
|Medium compound||44 laps||Button|
|Soft compound||28 laps||Sutil|
See complete 2013 Abu Dhabi F1 GP race result.
See current 2013 F1 Drivers Championship table.
See current 2013 F1 Constructors Championship table.