Seb seals Victory in the final race of 2009
Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel took the inaugural chequered flag at Abu Dhabi to win the final race of the season ahead of team mate Mark Webber. Pole Position man Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire from second with a brake issue on his McLaren, while Champions Brawn finished 3rd and 4th, Button ahead of Barrichello.
After both championships had already been settled in Brazil my one hope for Abu Dhabi was that they would stage a good Grand Prix and it not be an anti-climax to a great season. I got my wish! Yes ok I’m biased and a Red Bull fan so naturally I’m happy with the result, so what? I still felt that the race was a good way to end the season.
Some might say that it was a boring race and that nothing happened, now to a certain extent I can agree with that. But at least this wasn’t a repeat of Valencia. For me there were several things that made this just such a great end to the season. There was out-and-out racing, overtaking yes, a wonderful new circuit to behold, excitement and tension in the closing laps, and just a great sense of fun in the race.
So let’s go through them and I’ll try and explain where I’m coming from.
First of all Red Bull and Vettel, another mature great drive by the young German, he kept very close to Hamilton - against popular belief - in the early stages of the race and that allowed him to leapfrog the McLaren at the first round of pit stops. Admittedly we were robbed of an all out and out fight with Hamilton retiring and the race was then in the bag then for Vettel, yet he still managed to pull away from the field and win by a crushing margin. Kate’s Dirty Sister had certainly done very well indeed.
Mark did an amazing job to bring his car home in 2nd and thus make it Red Bull’s 4th 1-2 finish of the season. His defensive driving and wheel to wheel action with Jenson Button in the closing laps was great. I was watching the race with a friend who is a Jenson fan and we were both on the edge of our seats with excitement and tension. Mark even performed some doughnuts for the crowed on his warm down lap just to celebrate and have some fun – great stuff.
The new World Champion had a great drive for third and I was really happy to see him up on the podium as he deserved to be there celebrating - something he wasn’t able to do in Brazil when he clinched the title. He drove fantastically well to catch Mark in the closing stages, hunting him down. He was risking everything to have a go and get past the Aussie, whereas he could have just come to Abu Dhabi, had a bit of a jolly, not really bothered and gone home knowing that he was already the Champion, but he didn’t and that was what was so great to see today.
Yet in that drive and particularly after the race, you could see in both Mark and Jenson just simply how much fun they got out of it. Their little conversation together whilst waiting to go to the podium showed us this. Where they finished wasn’t going to make a bit of difference to the standings either way, they just let the racer inside them show through.
I have to give a massive thumbs up to the Yas Marina circuit and what they have built in Abu Dhabi, it just looked magnificent. I’m sure the TV images don’t do it credit and nor can my words here, but it is something that seems to have come from another world, it’s on an epic scale and has a kind of Disney feel to it. It certainly is a rapid departure from other Hermann Tilke designs like Shanghai and Bahrain which to me are one and the same. It showed overtaking is possible on these new tracks, thanks to Kobayashi and Alonso, and very nearly Jenson Button. It didn’t turn out to be another Valencia and a processional bore, which would not have been a fitting way to end 2009.
It also had a mix of interesting new sections, some open and wide like you might find in Bahrain, while other sections were much tighter giving a Monaco or Silverstone feeling. Having a Hotel over the race track and an underground pit lane exit I think was great. So many people were worried of a collision and said it was unsafe, but it turned out to be fine. I think it has added an interesting new dynamic to Grand Prix racing and why not?
Great drives from Kobayashi & Buemi
Finally I have to give a few moments for new boy Kamui Kobayashi and Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Buemi, who I think both gave very impressive drives. Kobayashi put a great overtaking move on Champion Jenson Button (makes it 1-1 after Brazil) that made him look like he was a veteran instead of someone only in his second F1 race. He also was the best of the 1 stoppers, really making his strategy work. Starting from 12th on the grid he finished 6th to collect his first points and even beating his team mate Trulli along the way.
Buemi as well had a great drive, he started 10th and finished 8th, collecting another point for Toro Rosso. He managed to get passed Nico Rosberg and did a fantastic job of defending from a very ambitious Robert Kubica. I think that the young hot shot maybe beginning to settling down into F1 and should really be held onto for next year by Toro Rosso.
The race has nicely book-ended the season for me. Brawn dominated the early part of the year, whilst Red Bull has done so in the latter stages. The circuit has shown just what you can do if you chuck a billion pounds at a project. It fits in well as a Grand Prix circuit and as an opposing tract to the older, more traditional circuits of F1 seen this year.
It has brought the curtain down on F1 2009 and has left me with an air of uncertainty and excitement going into 2010. Who will be the dominate force next year? Will Red Bull and Brawn retain their race winning ways? Will Ferrari and McLaren return to being Championship contenders? Will someone else pop to the front? What of the new teams coming into F1? This seems to be a great time for F1 and I find myself left only wanting more. I only wish we didn’t have to wait till March next year to find out.
|1||S Vettel||Red Bull||1:34:03.414|
|2||M Webber||Red Bull||+17.8 secs|
|3||J Button||Brawn||+18.4 secs|
|4||R Barrichello||Brawn||+22.7 secs|
|5||N Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||+26.2 secs|
|6||K Kobayashi||Toyota||+28.3 secs|
|7||J Trulli||Toyota||+34.3 secs|
|8||S Buemi||Toro Rosso||+41.2 secs|
|9||N Rosberg||Williams||+45.9 secs|
|10||R Kubica||BMW Sauber||+48.1 secs|
|11||H Kovalainen||McLaren||+52.7 secs|
|12||K Raikkonen||Ferrari||+54.3 secs|
|13||K Nakajima||Williams||+59.8 secs|
|14||F Alonso||Renault||+69.6 secs|
|15||V Liuzzi||Force India||+94.4 secs|
|16||G Fisichella||Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|17||A Sutil||Force India||+1 Lap|
|18||R Grosjean||Renault||+1 Lap|
|DNF||L Hamilton||McLaren||+35 Laps|
|DNF||J Alguersuari||Toro Rosso||+37 Laps|