When Sebastian Vettel went spinning off at the beginning of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, you'd have been forgiven for suspecting that it's probably only his most-devoted fans who threw their hands up in horror. For most people the reaction was probably a variation on 'yes!' amid the realisation that the world champion's departure opened things up for someone else to win.
The German was certainly due some bad luck. Of course both he and Red Bull have done a magnificent job this year, especially in qualifying, but the stats have been skewed by the fact that nothing has gone wrong for him. You could argue that Jenson Button's two retirements were team problems and therefore part of the game, but consider Fernando Alonso, who has also had a season almost free of blemishes - except for Montreal, where Button tapped him into retirement.
Vettel's non-finish cost him the chance to make a history by finishing all 19 races in the top four (although at least he now won't look back at that fourth place in Germany ruining a perfect run of podiums!). But what it also did was rob us of a potentially-thrilling battle between him and Lewis Hamilton. The McLaren man's victory was well deserved, but beating the Red Bull on the track would surely have made it that much sweeter.
"I think it would have been a close one," said McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh. "We had a strong race car, and it would have been a thrilling race with Sebastian. I'd like to feel that we could have beaten him in a straight fight.
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