Boy wonder. That finger gesture. Title contender. Love him or loathe him, the big news between qualifying and race day at Abu Dhabi was Vettel’s disqualification from the qualifying result. With a mere 13 points (now who’s superstitious?) between Vettel and Alonso and only 3 races to go, a start from the pitlane for Vettel was a welcome surprise for both the Abu Dhabi grand prix and the end of the 2012 season.
Safety Car Starters
2nd place man Mark Webber was slow (once again) off the grid, with 4th place Raikkonen capitalising on his tardiness. Hamilton had a smooth run to the first corner, but more on him later…
We saw a rare but fascinating display of Vettel’s overtaking abilities (or lack of): one clumsy move saw him lose a chunk of front wing. The Red Bull team duly came out ready for a pit stop, and swiftly returned to their seats as Vettel seemed comfortable enough.
The great god of KERS was not smiling on McLaren or Red Bull, with both teams having problems with the “boost button” technology.
Lap 9 saw the safety car make a lengthly appearance after Rosberg’s breathtaking jump over Karthikeyan’s HRT left the track completely debris-strewn. Cue dozens of marshalls with brooms out on track.
Vettel had yet more trouble with his wings (is anyone else at least enjoying the irony of that?) as he drove into a bollard due to a tightly bunched field. Once again the Red Bull team came out with a new nose, and once again they sat back down. One more lap, and the Red Bull team did at last give Vettel his new wings.
The Red Bulls flexed their muscles off the restart: Alonso was under pressure from Mark Webber whilst Vettel was gradually picking his way through the field. A slightly dubious move on Grosjean forced Vettel to allow Grosjean ahead before a blink-and-you-miss-it re-pass.
Vettel Points Watch = 0 points.
“Leave me alone!” – Mains
Lewis “Unlucky” Hamilton was left with a feeling of deju vu as his McLaren car suddenly lost all power and he parked up on the grass. But who cares? This was Raikkonen’s opportunity to show that not all returners to Formula 1 are lacklustre! “Leave me alone!” Raikkonen barked to his team as he got on with his day job of leading the race. That’s why we love the Finn.
Webber soon fell back following a frankly careless overtaking manoeuvre on Maldonado.
Unexpected moment of the race: on lap 27 we were treated to a wonderful display of Massa’s doughnutting abilities after he was spooked by Mark Webber. Dough points sadly are not yet redeemable for championship points in Formula 1.
Vettel Points Watch = 6 points.
Raikkonen made his pitstop and came out in front of 2nd place man Vettel. Confused? Adrian Newey is a design genius, but a time machine button is probably pushing it.
Vettel Points Watch = 18 points!?
Then it was carnage on lap 39! Some wonderful racing between Paul di Resta, Grosjean and then a dash of Perez and Webber resulted in a seemingly endless series of crashes. Webber out. Perez slapped with a stop n go penalty.
Behind the safety car the Lotus team continued to patronise race leader Kimi Raikkonen by telling him over the radio to keep “working all four tyres” to which Kimi replied “yes yes yes I keep working all the tyres”. Might we suggest a live radio feed from Kimi’s car during races?
Alonso hunting Raikkonen for 1st. Vettel hunting Button for 3rd. The battle for the podium was gripping in the final few laps of the race. In a stunning reversal of fortunes Vettel claimed his place on the podium as Button had no more answers to Vettel’s staggering 21-place charge. Then it was back to the proper nail-biter: Raikkonen v Alonso. But through it all Kimi lived up to his name of Ice Man and kept his cool to cross the line just ahead of Alonso.
Vettel Points Watch (final) = 15 points.
It was a tale of many blunders today, which all-in-all made for a cracking and surprising race at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.