L
otus's Kimi Räikkönen took the victor’s crown in a
thrilling Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, triumphing over
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso by just a second.
There was a packed crowd at the magnificent Yas Marina
Circuit, and spectators were utterly gripped by the spectacle:
an atmosphere of pure drama prevailed from start to finish.
Hamilton retains early lead
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton had gained pole position and
retained a lead from the start. In the early stages of the race,
Hamilton had to fight off a challenge from Räikkönen for
first place, and was heard to complain that his tyres were cold.
But after the Brit got into his stride, he looked in control and
was completing laps roughly half a second faster than the
Finn. By the seventeenth lap, Hamilton was three seconds
ahead of Räikkönen, and was looking well-placed for victory
in the 55-lap race.
Disaster then struck for Hamilton on the 20th lap as his
McLaren simply ran to a halt, allowing a determined
Räikkönen to inherit the lead. The engine failure will have
been deeply frustrating for Hamilton, and may well have
Williams’ engineers panicking and under tremendous
pressure after a string of similar incidents.
And it seemed it was just not the team's day, as on the very
same lap the other Williams driver, Pastor Maldonado, was
overtaken by Championship contender Fernando Alonso,
who thus edged into second place.
Vettel claws his way back
Behind the main action, current championship leader
Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull had been quietly making his way
up the field. Vettel began from the pits as a penalty for a
technical failure in qualification.
But he made a remarkable recovery, taking advantage of a
safety car period to battle his way back. A nasty crash in which
Nico Rosberg's Mercedes was thrown into the air over
Narain Karthikeyan's HRTmeant that the safety car came on
to the track.
The manoeuvring required at the reduced speed caused Vettel
to hit the board at the sides. But Vettel took full advantage of