• Nov 13th 2011 at 1:01PM
  • 5
  • ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 13: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing leads the field into the first corner before retiring early during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 13, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso from Spain steers his car during the qualifying session at the Yas Marina racetrack, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Nov.12, 2011. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
  • Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain leads McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button of Britain, Red Bull driver Mark Webber of Australia and Ferrari driver Felipe Massa of Brazil during at the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix the Yas Marina racetrack, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov.13, 2011. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
  • Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany steers his car to take pole position during the qualifying session at the Yas Marina racetrack , in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Nov.12, 2011. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
  • ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 12: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing drives on his way to finishing first during qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 12, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button of Britain leads ahead of Red Bull driver Mark Webber of Australia and Ferrari driver Felipe Massa of Brazil at the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack , in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
  • Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain steers his car during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
  • ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 13: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren drives on his way to winning the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 13, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
  • McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain leads during the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov.13, 2011. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
  • Mc Laren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton from Britain raises his fist after he wins the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
  • ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 13: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren celebrates in parc ferme after winning the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 13, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
  • From left, second place Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso of Spain, Andy Latham Hamilton race engineer , McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, winner, and third placed McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button of Britain stand on the podium during at the Emirates Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina racetrack , in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov.13, 2011. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
  • Red Bull German driver, Sebastian Vettel reacts during the third free practice at the Yas Marina racetrack, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, Nov.12, 2011. The Emirates Formula One Grand Prix will take place on Sunday. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
The ongoing revolutions in the Middle East may have put the kibosh on the Bahrain Grand Prix this year, but the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was campaigned as planned against the setting Arabian sun. Follow the jump to read how the penultimate race of the 2011 Formula 1 World Championship went down at Yas Island.
After practice session mishaps that saw both Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso crash out, Vettel pulled it together on Saturday to qualify once again on pole. Lewis Hamilton started beside him, his teammate Jenson Button just behind in third, and Red Bull's #2 Mark Webber in fourth. Ferrari pilots Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa took fifth and sixth, ahead of Mercedes GP's Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher in seventh and eighth and Force India's Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta rounding out the starting grid's top ten positions.



If Vettel's pole came as no surprise, what shocked the crowds was when the young champ inexplicably spun out on the opening lap, dropping to last place as his rivals zipped by. He limped back to pit lane, only for the Red Bull crew to find his wheel hub damaged beyond repair, forcing him out of the cockpit to watch from the pit wall.

Alonso, meanwhile, overtook Button for second as Schumacher and Rosberg dueled for sixth place. Webber briefly passed Button, only to givve him back third position in a battle that would unfold over the entirety of the race.

Seventeen laps in, Hamilton and Alonso pitted simultaneously from first and second, but the McLaren crew once again trumped Ferrari's in the pits, and Lewis retained his lead. Button and Webber were next in, and the McLaren emerged ahead again as Red Bull struggled to get its remaining driver back out on the circuit.





Buemi was disappointing, forced to retire his Toro Rosso from something of a home race for the Bahrain-based driver, soon to be joined by HRT's Daniel Ricciardo and Virgin's Jerome d'Ambrosio. Meanwhile, William's Pastor Maldonado, STR's Jaime Alguersuari and Renault's Bruno Senna were all cited by race stewards for failing to heed the blue flag instructing them to move aside for lapping frontrunners.

Past the halfway mark, Webber (fifth) was closing in on Massa (fourth), who in turn was hunting down Button (third) in a fiercely contested battle for that podium finish. A series of DRS deployments and pit-stop leapfrogging kept the battle interesting until Massa picked up some debris on the track, spun out, and fell hopelessly behind Button and Webber.

Webber saved his last mandatory pit stop for the final lap, re-emerging in fourth behind Button but ahead of Massa. It was the first podium this season that didn't include at least one Red Bull driver, Hamilton and Button sandwiching Alonso for the trophies.



With both the drivers' and manufacturers' titles long since locked up, ten points separate Alonso (3rd) from Button (2nd) in the standings, leaving the battle for runner-up still in contention as the circus heads to Interlagos for the season-finale Brazilian Grand Prix in two weeks from now.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 5 Comments
      Justin B.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't know about anyone else, but it brought a smile on my face when Vettel's tire blew. You could just tell how motivating that was for Lewis, Jenson, Fernando and Webber to want a proper race. Having Vettel lead from lap one without anyone getting a chance to use their DRS is just about as boring as you can get save listening to Vettel in interviews. Congrats to Lewis and McLaren and as a fan of F1 I say a big thank you to that piece of debris that took Vettel out.
      GETHIN
      • 3 Years Ago
      Thats an early christmas present for hamilton
      hrgmpphoto
      • 3 Years Ago
      "Follow the jump to read how the final race of the 2011 Formula 1 World Championship went down at Yas Island." Final race of 2011? What happened to Brazil?