2011 Abu Dhabi F1 GP: McLaren Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton score maiden Victory at spectacular Yas Marina Circuit

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes with both its drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were staring the whole weekend, before German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel scored his 14th pole position of the season on the final lap of Q3, thus equaling Nigel Mansell’s seasonal record.

After Lewis Hamilton made the headlines this season due to his continuous fights and resulting crashes with the Brazilian Scuderia Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, his separation from Nicole Scherzinger after four years together, this dominant victory in Abu Dhabi was just what the McLaren driver needed to reestablish his ego. In celebration, he dedicated this heard-earned victory to his mother Carmen, whose birthday it was, after he passed the finish line.

He was helped immensely as Sebastian Vettel spun into retirement in the second corner as his right-rear tire came off the rim of his Red Bull, thus destroying the rear suspension of his car in an irreparable manner. However, it wasn’t an easy run to the flag as Spanish Scuderia driver Ferrari Fernando Alonso snatched second place from Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button on the opening lap and thereafter kept him at bay.

The Spaniard led from the 41st to 43rd lap after staying out longer than Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in their second stints, but by the finishing line the Englishman was 8.4s ahead after controlling the race without any problems.

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button chances of making it a one-two were damaged by a KERS problem that affected him right from the start, and left him victim for a while to Red Bull’s Mark Webber, who gambled on a three-stop strategy after a ruined first pit stop. The Australian set a string of fastest laps on a third set of soft Pirellis before dropping back to fourth after a 54th lap stop (penultimate lap) to switch to the medium tire option.

Behind them, Scuderia Ferrari driver Felipe Massa was a threat for a long time until he hit debris thrown off Pastor Maldonado’s Williams, then spun, but the Brazilian stayed ahead of Merceds GP driver Nico Rosberg, who did a very long second stint before also pitting late for medium tires. He was a long way ahead of Mercedes team mate Michael Schumacher, who had an interesting race with Force India’s Adrian Sutil, who finished only 1.1s behind the 7 times Formula 1 world champion by the flag.

Adrian Sutil’s performance, and that of single-stopping team mate Paul di Resta who followed him to the finish line, helped Force India to cement their sixth place overall in the Formula 1 constructors world championship as a very strong drive from Kamui Kobayashi earned Sauber the final point after both their drivers had been forced to make early pit stops. Sergio Perez in the other Sauber finished 11th, just holding off Rubens Barrichello’s Williams whichstarted from the very back of the field.

Renault’s Vitaly Petrov was 13th ahead of Williams’ Pastor Maldonado and Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari. The latter pair made themselves hugely unpopular after blocking Mark Webber and Felipe Massa brutally partway through, and the stewards handed them penalties after the race. Pastor Maldonado had already received a drive-through penalty for ignoring blue flags, as had Renault’s Bruno Senna, who finished 16th. Pastor Maldonado and Jaime Alguersuari ultimately kept their 14th and 15th place finishes, even with 30 and 20 seconds respectively added to their race times for their unfair drive.

Heikki Kovalainen had yet another of his energetic races for Lotus, finishing 17th after running 13th at one stage, and he was a lap ahead of team mate Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock’s Virgin and Tonio Liuzzi’s HRT.

Besides Sebastian Vettel, Jerome D’Ambrosio retired his Virgin with brake problems, Sebastien Buemi’s Toro Rosso stopped as he was fighting hard with Di Resta, and Daniel Ricciardo’s HRT broke down towards the end.

Lewis Hamilton’s win brings him to 227 points, but leaves him still fifth behind Sebastian Vettel on 374, Jenson Button on 255, Fernando Alonso on 245 and Mark Webber on 233. Although Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Hamilton scored a victory in Abu Dhabi, he can neither finish second in the standings, nor overtake team mate Jenson Button.

Australian Red Bull driver Mark Webber set his sixth fastest lap of the season meaning he now cannot be caught in the 2011 DHL Fastest Lap Award standings.


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