Vettel wins championship and race

Sebastian Vettel became Formula 1's youngest-ever world champion by winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with chief rivals Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber just seventh and eighth

Vettel wins championship and race

The 23-year-old German led comfortably from the front all afternoon, save a few laps before Jenson Button made his late pitstop. But it was what happened behind Vettel that changed the course of the championship.

Pre-race favourite Alonso only needed to come home in the top four to secure title, even if Vettel won, but his day - and title hopes - were ruined when he spent most of the afternoon looking at the back of Vitaly Petrov's car in the lower reaches of the top 10, thanks to an early shuffling of the race order.

Instead, Nico Rosberg and the Renaults of Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov capitalised on alternative strategies offered by an early-race safety car period to finish fourth, fifth and sixth, and relegate Alonso and Webber down the order.

The vital chain of events was triggered by Webber's early pitstop to discard the first set of tyres, on which he was slipping backwards from Alonso's rear wing.

The Australian resumed on lap 13 in 16th place, behind Jaime Alguersuari's Toro Rosso. Massa had been running closely behind Webber, so Ferrari responded by pitting him to see if he could get out ahead of the Red Bull.

When he emerged behind, and Webber lapped 0.8 seconds faster than Alonso next time round, Ferrari made the decision to bring the Spaniard in to ensure he stayed in front of Webber.

He did, but that strategy failed to take into account Nico Rosberg and Vitaly Petrov, who had pitted under a safety on the first lap. That meant that although Alonso had Webber covered off, he was nowhere near the fourth place he needed to deny Vettel the title.

Not only that, but while Alonso was stacked behind Petrov - with Rosberg another two seconds up the road - Kubica stayed out on a long first stint and jumped up the order. His Renault had started on the harder compound tyre after failing to make it through to Q3, but that allowed a late first stop.

Kubica found himself in the thick of the battle for the lead when Vettel and Hamilton rejoined after their stops. With Alonso so far down the order, Hamilton became the biggest threat to Vettel's championship. But the Briton couldn't find a way around the Renault, and by the time Kubica pitted on lap 45, Vettel was 10 seconds up the road and in control.

But in that time, Kubica had extended the gap back to Alonso's pack to 24 seconds - plenty for his pitstop. He resumed ahead of team-mate Petrov, with Alonso seventh.

Button, who was running just five seconds ahead of Alonso in the early stages, remained in third - easily clear of the Rosberg group by the time he resumed from his pitstop on lap 39.

The first-lap safety car period that later proved so pivotal to the championship was, coincidentally, partly caused by Rosberg - the driver to benefit most from it.

His Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher was delayed on the inside of the track by the defending Rubens Barrichello. Rosberg tried to drive around his team-mate into the chicane and Schumacher spun when he got off line on the exit.

Just as he was trying to restart, Vitantonio Liuzzi arrived on the scene, in the middle of a pack with nowhere to go. His Force India hit and climbed up the front of the Mercedes and blocked the track. It was this that prompted Rosberg and Petrov to make their early stops.

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Yas Marina, United Arab Emirates; 55 laps; 305.355km; Weather: . Classified: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h39m36.837s 2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 10.1s 3. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 11.0s 4. Rosberg Mercedes + 30.7s 5. Kubica Renault + 39.0s 6. Petrov Renault + 43.5s 7. Alonso Ferrari + 43.7s 8. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 44.2s 9. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 50.2s 10. Massa Ferrari + 50.8s 11. Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari + 51.5s 12. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 57.6s 13. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 58.3s 14. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 59.5s 15. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1m03.1s 16. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth + 1m04.7s 17. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth + 1 lap 18. Di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps 19. Senna HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps 20. Klien HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps 21. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth + 4 laps Fastest lap: Hamilton, 1m41.274s Not classified/retirements: Driver Team On lap Glock Virgin-Cosworth 44 Schumacher Mercedes 1 Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1 World Championship standings, round 19: Drivers: Constructors:  1. Vettel 256 1. Red Bull-Renault 498 2. Alonso 252 2. McLaren-Mercedes 454 3. Webber 242 3. Ferrari 396 4. Hamilton 240 4. Mercedes 214 5. Button 214 5. Renault 163 6. Massa 144 6. Williams-Cosworth 69 7. Rosberg 142 7. Force India-Mercedes 68 8. Kubica 136 8. Sauber-Ferrari 44 9. Schumacher 72 9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 13 10. Barrichello 47 11. Sutil 47 12. Kobayashi 32 13. Petrov 27 14. Hulkenberg 22 15. Liuzzi 21 16. Buemi 8 17. De la Rosa 6 18. Heidfeld 6 19. Alguersuari 5 All timing unofficial 
F1 popularity to surge after great season

Previous article

F1 popularity to surge after great season

Next article

Schumacher: Vettel a 'great' champion

Schumacher: Vettel a 'great' champion
Load comments
What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat Plus

What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat

OPINION: Max Verstappen is back in the lead of the 2021 Formula 1 drivers’ championship, with the season’s final flyaway events set to get underway in the USA this weekend. But a defensive stance he’s recently adopted could have a lasting impact for the Red Bull driver when it comes to his chances of defeating Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes

The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest Plus

The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest

Despite appearing to adjust to life as a Ferrari driver with relative ease, it was far from straightforward under the surface for Carlos Sainz Jr. But, having made breakthroughs in rather different routes at the Russian and Turkish races, he’s now targeting even greater feats for the rest of the Formula 1 season

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team Plus

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team

Emerson Fittipaldi is better remembered for his Formula 1 world championships and Indianapolis 500 successes than for the spell running his eponymous F1 team. Despite a hugely talented roll call of staff, it was a period of internal strife, limited funding and few results - as remembered by Autosport's technical consultant

Formula 1
Oct 18, 2021
Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence Plus

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence

In the 1960s and 1970s, McLaren juggled works entries in F1, sportscars and the Indy 500 while building cars for F3 and F2. Now it’s returning to its roots, expanding 
into IndyCars and Extreme E while continuing its F1 renaissance. There’s talk of Formula E and WEC entries too. But is this all too much, too soon? STUART CODLING talks to the man in charge

Formula 1
Oct 17, 2021
How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential Plus

How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential

Yuki Tsunoda arrived in grand prix racing amid a whirlwind of hype, which only increased after his first race impressed the biggest wigs in Formula 1. His road since has been rocky and crash-filled, and OLEG KARPOV asks why Red Bull maintains faith in a driver who admits he isn’t really that big a fan of F1?

Formula 1
Oct 15, 2021
The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages Plus

The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages

OPINION: After Lewis Hamilton responded to reports labelling him 'furious' with Mercedes following his heated exchanges over team radio during the Russian Grand Prix, it provided a snapshot on how Formula 1 broadcasting radio snippets can both illuminate and misrepresent the true situation

Formula 1
Oct 14, 2021
Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers Plus

Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers

OPINION: Valtteri Bottas is credited with pole position for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, despite being beaten in qualifying. This is another example of Formula 1 and the FIA scoring an own goal by forgetting what makes motorsport magic, with the Istanbul race winner also a victim of this in the championship’s recent history

Formula 1
Oct 13, 2021
Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

On a day that the number two Mercedes enjoyed a rare day in the sun, the Turkish Grand Prix produced several standout drives - not least from a driver who has hit a purple patch of late

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021