|1. Sebastian Vettel||9/10|
Started: 1st Finished: Retired - puncture/suspension damage
It began, just as it had in Turkey, Canada and Japan, with a shunt during Friday practice as the world champion overdid it into Turn 1 and found the TecPro barriers.
But, as ever, the 24-year-old didn't seem to lose any momentum and come qualifying he was able to dig deep in Q3 to snatch pole position from Lewis Hamilton by a tenth-and-a-half with a characteristically committed lap.
When he held the lead at the start, it appeared to be business as usual as he led out of the first corner, only for his right-rear tyre to suffer an instant deflation, pitching him into a spin.
Vettel recovered - slowly - to the pits, but there it was discovered that a trackrod had been broken.
That left him with his first retirement in over 12 months of racing and ended his hopes of equalling Michael Schumacher's seasonal wins tally by triumphing in the final two races of the year.
Verdict: Friday crash was a black mark, but qualifying effort was excellent and, right now, there's no sign that he played any part in his race-ending puncture.
|2. Mark Webber||5/10|
Started: 4th Finished: 4th
There was little sign of Webber being anything other than a supporting player to Vettel, but he might have been able to join his team-mate on the front row but for what he described as a "scrappy" Q3 session.
That added up to not quite having the tyres at the right temperature at the start of the lap and being a little bit too close to Adrian Sutil's Force India.
Without that, perhaps the two-and-a-half tenths he needed to jump both of the McLarens might have been there.
Then again, his performance in the race suggested otherwise. For the first time this season team-mate Vettel was out of the reckoning a matter of seconds into the race, but the Australian wasn't able to capitalise to take his first win of the year.
This was despite taking the fight to Button early on, only to lose almost six seconds in his first stop when his right-rear wheelnut fell out of the wheelgun socket.
With third place now almost out of reach, Red Bull gambled on a three-stop strategy, which helped the Australian to bag fastest lap, but ultimately it made little difference as he finished fourth - exactly where he would have likely finished on a two-stopper.
Verdict: The bottom line is that Red Bull needed its number-two driver to be there to pick up the pieces - and he wasn't. Banked solid points and was unlucky in the first pitstop, but still an average weekend.
|3. Lewis Hamilton||10/10|
Started: 2nd Finished: 1st
Set the pace on Friday and was disappointed to lose out on pole position after Vettel pulled a typical Q3 special out of the bag.
Nonetheless, he was confident going into the race that he'd have had the speed to challenge, even though it would have been disheartening to watch the Red Bull lead out of the first corner.
Whether the McLaren had the pace to challenge had Vettel not suffered his tyre deflation is up for question, but once he was handed the lead, Hamilton controlled the race in a fashion that the world champion has made his own this year.
The key moment came around the second stops, with second-placed Fernando Alonso running two laps longer, but Hamilton was fast enough soon enough on the primes to neutralise that threat and claim a cathartic win.
Verdict: Turned in just the kind of calm, controlled drive that he needed to help salvage his season. Never looked seriously threatened despite the pressure.
|4. Jenson Button||7/10|
Started: 3rd Finished: 3rd
Struggled with understeer - and an occasional armful of oversteer - at times during qualifying, but recovered well to set a time only nine-thousandths off team-mate Hamilton, so was upbeat heading into the race.
Ran second at the start, but was passed by Fernando Alonso into Turn 8 on the opening lap.
That was as close as he got to the lead battle, as in the first three laps he dropped 5.238s to Hamilton and had to work to keep Webber at bay.
The loss of KERS during his first stint cost him time and made life easier for Webber, but the Australian's slow first stop gave the McLaren driver the breathing space he needed.
The team worked out how to get the KERS back up and running, but it required regular resets and Button struggled with braking when the harvesting of power switched of intermittently.
Did what he needed to see off three-stopping Webber's challenge to bank a third place that takes him to the brink of sealing second in the standings.
Verdict: Slow first three laps in the race left him out of contention for the lead, but did a good job to manage KERS problems and hold off Webber. Nothing spectacular.
|5. Fernando Alonso||10/10|
Started: 5th Finished: 2nd
It was business as usual for the Spaniard in qualifying, ending up fifth on the grid for the eighth time this year and admitting that the Red Bulls and McLarens were out of reach - although had he found another couple of tenths he could have slipped ahead of Webber.
Made a great start to run third, picking off Button for second into Turn 8 on the opening lap and setting about attacking Hamilton.
He was 2.576s down at the end of the first lap, and while there were times when he was able to chip away at his old team-mate's lead, he was never in striking distance.
The closest he got was during the final round of pitstops. He ran for two laps longer than Hamilton, delivering his fastest and third fastest laps of the race in the final two flying laps before his in-lap, but even without losing time behind Daniel Ricciardo in the pit entry, the McLaren man had done enough to stay ahead.
Alonso admitted that even if he had jumped Hamilton, Ferrari's tyre warm-up problems may have left him a sitting duck.
Verdict: The Ferrari is not as strong as the McLaren, yet Alonso kept it in range of Hamilton all race. Relentlessly fast, he kept the third-best car in the hunt all evening.
|6. Felipe Massa||5/10|
Started: 6th Finished: 5th
Looked ill-at-ease at Yas Marina throughout practice, often clobbering kerbs and taking more of the rumble strips than his rivals, so it was no surprise to see him hitting a bollard during Q2.
The qualifying deficit of just over half a second to Alonso looked about representative and there were few flashes of speed from the Brazilian.
Come the race, he settled into his customary sixth place at the start, jumping to fifth when Vettel hit trouble at Turn 2.
And there he stayed for the rest of the race, regularly enlivening proceedings with a wild moment.
Red Bull gave Massa a hope of fourth by three-stopping Webber. But while on the cusp of dropping a pitstop's worth of time behind the Australian during his final stint, Massa spun while trying to fight back, for it seemed that the relentless pace he needed to hold off Webber was no longer accessible.
Verdict: Wasn't particularly quick, or consistent, and late-race spin showed that he couldn't lean on the car when he needed to. Fifth was acceptable, but being only 1.739s clear of Nico Rosberg wasn't good enough.
|7. Michael Schumacher||6/10|
Started: 8th Finished: 7th
It was a difficult weekend for Schumacher, who reckoned on Saturday that he didn't really mind whether or not he overhauled Rosberg in the drivers' championship.
Prioritised tyre-saving in qualifying, but never showed the single-lap pace needed to overhaul his team-mate and would likely have been behind even using fresh options in Q3.
Passed Rosberg on the opening lap when the younger German ran wide, but despite defending fiercely, Schumacher lost the position later that lap.
Settled into seventh place, but leaked eight seconds to the lead Mercedes during that stint.
Time loss continued throughout the race, even though he was able to run longer on his second set of tyres, and he ended up almost 24 seconds down.
Complained of balance problems and minor car damage that slowed him.
Verdict: End result was okay, but had his least convincing race compared to Rosberg pace-wise in a long time.
|8. Nico Rosberg||8/10|
Started: 7th Finished: 6th
Showed good pace during practice, but was a little disappointed not to beat Massa during qualifying after traffic problems and cooling track conditions in Q3 meant that his Pirellis weren't exactly in their correct operating window on his lap.
Nonetheless, to be within a tenth of a Ferrari, even one driven by Massa, was a good effort.
Ran wide at the first corner, which let Schumacher get ahead, but attacked his team-mate later in the lap to regain sixth place.
Massa's struggles gave Rosberg hope of taking fifth, but despite being close during the final stint, he struggled with understeer on the prime rubber and couldn't mount an attack.
Verdict: Quick and consistent, comfortably outperforming Schumacher, but headed home from Abu Dhabi with the nagging feeling that he should have beaten Massa.
|9. Bruno Senna||6/10|
Started: 14th Finished: 16th
Admitted that qualifying wasn't great, but still ended up within two tenths of his team-mate despite sitting out Friday morning practice in favour of Romain Grosjean.
Senna summed up his Sunday as "a very complicated race", which it certainly was after the team opted to gamble on starting him on the prime rubber and pitting on the first lap.
Was facing an uphill battle from there, with no safety car to help him and the loss of KERS for a second successive race didn't help.
A drive-through penalty for ignoring blue flags didn't impress Senna and the team had no choice but to leave him out on his second set of options for the final 35 laps of the race.
Inevitably, his pace dropped off significantly as he had no rubber left at the end, meaning he was rooted to the bottom of the midfield.
Verdict: Performance level wasn't as bad as the final result suggested, especially considering how tricky the Renault is in the slow stuff, but ultimately has to carry the can for the penalty that helped put him there.
|10. Vitaly Petrov||6/10|
Started: 12th Finished: 13th
Spent Friday trying out a variety of test items for 2012, but was reasonably happy to line up 12th on the grid at a track ill-suited to a Renault that struggles badly for downforce and rear traction in the slow corners.
Ran 11th for most of the first stint and looked a potential points contender, but his DRS stopped working early on.
This encouraged the team to gamble on a one-stop strategy, switching to primes on lap 20, but the lack of pace from the rubber forced them to bring him in again for options after 18 laps.
With an orthodox strategy, it's possible that he might have been able to challenge for the final point, and had his DRS worked he certainly would have been in among the Saubers on the edge of the top 10 - especially if he hadn't squandered three seconds with an off.
Verdict: Considering Renault's low expectations he qualified decently, and dealt with losing his DRS and failed one-stop attempt well. Against that, he did briefly go off during the race.
|11. Rubens Barrichello||9/10|
Started: 24th Finished: 12th
You're a 39-year-old with 19 F1 seasons under your belt, serious doubts about whether you will have a ride next year and your engine has let you down in two free practice sessions and qualifying. You're at the back of the grid.
What do you do? Few would hold it against you if you went through the motions in the race, but that's exactly what the Brazilian didn't do.
Starting on primes, he made decent progress during the first stint to climb to 14th, which laid the foundations for a race that, amazingly, almost yielded a points finish.
In the final reckoning, Barrichello was only 14 seconds off 10th-placed Kamui Kobayashi. Had he started nine or 10 places further up the grid, it's possible that he might have got on the scoreboard for the first time since June.
Verdict: Drove a fast, aggressive, consistent race that proves there's still life in him in F1. Without his practice and qualifying travails, he could have been in the points.
|12. Pastor Maldonado||4/10|
Started: 23rd Finished: 14th
Came into the weekend with a 10-place grid penalty hanging over him and given the Williams qualifying record of late, that always meant he was likely to be on the back row.
Nonetheless, didn't give up on scoring points completely, and before his race fell apart he was making a good fist of it.
That was before the blue flags intervened. First, he was hit with a drive-through penalty for ignoring them, which was compounded by a 30-second post-race penalty when his scrap with Jaime Alguersuari held up Massa and Webber.
This ruined Maldonado's one-stop race and left him cast adrift from the battle for the final points position.
Verdict: First penalty for missing blue flags was forgivable, but in the circumstances he should have been wise enough to avoid the second.
|14. Adrian Sutil||9/10|
Started: 9th Finished: 8th
Had one of those straightforward, effective weekends that he has made his speciality of late, qualifying well and then turning in an unflustered performance in the race to bag another four points.
Settled into eighth early on, holding off team-mate Paul di Resta, and after the team opted to switch from a one-stop to a two-stop strategy, he took the fight to Schumacher in the second stint, running ahead of him.
But tyre degradation caught him out, and the seven-times world champion got back ahead after the final stops. Sutil then kept him in sight, but couldn't quite mount a serious attack.
Verdict: Turned in an accomplished performance, outpacing di Resta all weekend. Only minor criticism is that perhaps better tyre management could have allowed him to beat Schumacher.
|15. Paul di Resta||7/10|
Started: 10th Finished: 9th
Struggled to get the car hooked up as he'd hoped in Abu Dhabi, and was never quite able to get on terms with Sutil.
Nonetheless, he qualified 10th after opting not to run in Q3 and, like team-mate Sutil, attempted a one-stop strategy.
However, he started on primes, with Force India now generally splitting the strategy of its cars to insulate it against its rivals for sixth in the constructors' championship, and was just able to make the one-stopper work.
Held ninth early on and his laptimes stood up well, although the one-stop strategy left him 24s behind Sutil.
Verdict: Struggled a little for single-lap pace, but strategy gave him no chance of beating Sutil and he did a good job to come away with two points.
|16. Kamui Kobayashi||8/10|
Started: 16th Finished: 10th
Was upbeat heading into qualifying, but after setting a decent laptime on used options on his first Q2 run, he couldn't improve with fresh rubber after struggling to generate temperature.
This left him almost four tenths, and five places, behind team-mate Sergio Perez.
Opted to start on primes and leaped to 11th on the first lap, but didn't have the speed to stay there and slipped back to 13th before pitting for option rubber. This meant he had two stints to capitalise on the pace of the option rubber, and even though there was no safety car to help him, he made good use of them.
All of this put him in to a position to pass Perez for the last point during the final stint, ending a points drought that stretched back to July's German Grand Prix.
Verdict: This was Kobayashi back on the kind of form we expect. Not quite as quick as Perez, but effective on the first lap and well equipped to execute an out-of-synch tyre strategy.
|17. Sergio Perez||6/10|
Started: 11th Finished: 11th
Was happy with qualifying 11th despite struggling for temperature on his second set of tyres during Q2.
Converted that into ninth at the end of the first lap, but had struck the back of Sutil's Force India in the Turn 7 traffic jam and had to pit for a new nose - and prime rubber - at the end of lap two.
That effectively converted him to a one-stop strategy, with a stint on primes and then a long run on options to the finish.
This proved his undoing, as despite climbing to 10th in the final stint, he had six-lap-older tyres than his team-mate and, with his KERS now not working, was powerless to prevent Kobayashi from taking the final point.
Verdict: Was quick throughout the weekend but first-lap mistake proved costly. Even with that error, came close to the points, but was probably doomed to be passed by Kobayashi even had KERS not failed.
|18. Sebastien Buemi||7/10|
Started: 13th Retired: Hydraulics
The Toro Rosso proved not to be at home at Abu Dhabi, with its slow track configuration, as it had been in previous races and Buemi was content to qualify 11th after struggling with changing track conditions on Saturday afternoon.
Unsurprisingly, the STR was stronger in race trim. Buemi climbed to 10th by lap three after Perez pitted for a new nose and later passed Di Resta to run ninth at the end of his first stint, only for hydraulics problems to put him out of the race after just 19 laps.
Verdict: For the third time in four races, Buemi had to retire from a points-scoring position. Seemed to have the measure of team-mate Alguersuari.
|19. Jaime Alguersuari||6/10|
Started: 15th Finished: 15th
Battled with the car's set-up during practice and was content to line up 15th on the grid despite being outpaced by his team-mate.
Climbed to 12th during the first stint, but the team made a mess of his pitstop, which cost him over 20 seconds and relegated him to the back of the pack. That ended any hope of a points finish for the unfortunate Spaniard, who spent the rest of the race scrapping with the stragglers.
To make matters worse, he was hit with a 20-second penalty for ignoring blue flags, although it made no difference to his position.
Verdict: Was certainly a threat for 10th place had the pit crew not let him down, although had Buemi's car held together he would probably have finished behind the Swiss.
|20. Heikki Kovalainen||7/10|
Started: 17th Finished: 17th
Frankly, you could cut and paste any number of summaries of Kovalainen's recent races here and it would tell you the full story.
Comfortably faster than Jarno Trulli in qualifying, he then took the fight to the midfield stragglers in race conditions and finished a country mile ahead of the Italian.
Team Lotus continues to occupy a no-man's land between the established order, which it's nipping at the heels of, and Virgin/HRT, which it has left firmly behind, and on current form Kovalainen looks well equipped to make the most of the team's promised improved performance level next year.
Verdict: Can't fault the Finn's performance, other than to say that, through no fault of his own, the car is only fast enough to bother, but not beat, the midfield.
|21. Jarno Trulli||5/10|
Started: 18th Finished: 18th
A gearbox problem on Saturday morning cost him track time, but even taking that into account, Trulli's qualifying performance was unremarkable.
It was a similar story in the race as the Italian couldn't match Kovalainen's pace, but did more than enough to keep the lead Virgin of Timo Glock at arm's length, finishing 29 seconds clear of him.
Verdict: Given the pace of the car relative to the rest, the comparison to Kovalainen is the only meaningful one. And he was not on the Finn's pace. Average.
|22. Daniel Ricciardo||7/10|
Started: 20th Retired: Alternator failure
Was far from happy with the way free practice went, with most of the set-up changes tried by the team not proving to have the desired effect.
Despite that, he turned in a strong qualifying performance, beating Tonio Liuzzi by half a second and coming within a tenth and change of beating Virgin's Timo Glock.
Lost ground on the first lap despite making a good start, but was on the inside line at the first corner and was passed by Glock, and others, and was last by the start/finish line. Recovered well and was close behind Glock in the final stint when his alternator gave out.
Verdict: The start aside, this was another convincing performance by Ricciardo who again had the edge on Liuzzi and took the fight to the Virgins.
|23. Vitantonio Liuzzi||6/10|
Started: 22nd Finished: 20th
A suspension failure during Q2 made his car tail-happy, although not undriveable, and it cost him any chance of improving on last place.
Struggled with handling in the race, with understeer on left-handers and oversteer on right-handers, suggesting the same problem was there, and the Italian couldn't capitalise on a great first lap.
Soon faded to the back, but at least brought a tricky car home on a one-stopper.
Verdict: As the car wasn't right in qualifying or the race, can't be too harsh on him. Credit for sticking at it.
|24. Timo Glock||7/10|
Started: 19th Finished: 19th
Glock wasn't particularly happy with the handling of his car on Saturday, admitting that he didn't have a huge amount of confidence.
A conservative qualifying lap was enough to put both HRTs, and team-mate Jerome d'Ambrosio, behind him on the grid.
Climbed to 16th on the opening lap, but didn't have anything like the speed to hold that position, so set about consolidating his advantage over Liuzzi, who had followed him up the order.
The German always looked comfortable in terms of pace and, once Ricciardo had retired, he had more than half-a-minute in hand over Liuzzi.
Verdict: The HRTs kept him honest, but it was a relatively straightforward task for Glock to take 19th and he finished a lot closer to Trulli than he should have done.
|25. Jerome d'Ambrosio||5/10|
Started: 21st Retired: Brakes
Lined up two places, a couple of tenths and a row behind team-mate Glock, but that deficit was enough for Ricciardo to get between the two Virgins.
The Belgian admitted that it was not a "perfect lap", but it was a solid effort.
Got ahead of Ricciardo on the first lap, although the fast-starting Liuzzi got past both of them.
He slipped back behind Ricciardo on lap five and was running last on lap 16 when a problem with the brakes forced him to retire.
Verdict: Qualifying was solid and he was facing a tough fight to beat the HRTs in the race, but braking travails meant that this battle was not able to play out.
To continue reading this feature, subscribe to Autosport Plus today.
Are you an Autosport magazine subscriber? Activate your online account
- Your Autosport Plus subscription includes:
- Unlimited access to Autosport's news - no monthly cap.
- Read the best motorsport features, analysis and opinion.
- Explore Forix, our comprehensive motorsport stats database.
- Choose from a monthly or yearly membership.