Vettel grabs title as Alonso and Webber falter

2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix review

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Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Abu Dhabi, 2010
Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Abu Dhabi, 2010

Sebastian Vettel is the 2010 Formula 1 world champion after winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

He was aided by rivals Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber pitting early and getting stuck in traffic and finishing in seventh and eighth.

The two McLaren drivers joined Vettel on the podiums.

Vettel made a clean start from pole position, while Lewis Hamilton tried and failed to squeeze through at the first corner.

Behind them Jenson Button also got away smartly to take third from Alonso.

But the race only lasted a few cars before the safety car came out following an alarming collision between Michael Schumacher and Vitantonio Liuzzi, which ended with the Force India perched on top of the Mercedes.

Schumacher spun while trying to pass team mate Nico Rosberg at the exit of turn six – the pair did not make contact – leaving Liuzzi with nowhere to go.

It took several laps to clear the wreckage away, during which time Rosberg, Vitaly Petrov, Jaime Alguersuari, Christian Klien, Bruno Senna and Lucas di Grassi all pitted to discarad the super-soft tyres they had started on for mediums. This was to have a significant role in deciding the outcome of the race – and the championship.

Ferrari react to Webber

After the restart Vettel and Hamilton pulled away from Button, while Alonso dropped back with Webber and Massa behind him.

Webber was clearly struggling on the super-soft tyres and made an early pit stop on lap 12 to get on the mediums, falling behind several cars that didn’t have to make further pit stops.

At first Ferrari reacted by bringing Massa in. But even though Webber took two laps to pass Jaime Alguersuari, he was able to keep his position ahead of Massa.

The next time by Ferrari brought Alonso in. He came out ahead of Webber – but behind Petrov, who proved a tougher nut to crack than Ferrari expected.

The leading trio of Vettel, Hamilton and Button stayed out, trying to build enough of a gap over Kamui Kobayashi and Robert Kubica.

McLaren eventually gave up and brought Hamilton in, sending him out on track behind the Renault and Sauber. Unfortunately for Hamilton he was held up as Kubica chose this moment to muscle past Kobayashi around the outside.

Hamilton picked off Kobayashi but got stuck behind Kubica. That allowed Vettel to make his pit stop and stay in front of Kubica, building up a ten-second advantage over Hamilton.

Button stayed out until lap 39, before pitting and coming out behind Hamilton, who was still stuck behind Kubica.

Alonso stuck behind Petrov

He wasn’t the only driver struggling to pass a Renault – Alonso was still stuck behind Petrov. He made one attempt that ended with him going off at turn 11, though Webber wasn’t close enough to capitalise.

The time he lost behind Petrov meant that Kubica eventually had a large enough gap to make his pit stop and get out in front of Alonso. This he did on lap 46. Alonso was now in seventh, needing to pass Petrov, Rosberg and Kubica to keep Vettel from the title.

He was giving it his all – running off the track again at turn 17 when he made another attempt – but this was how the championship slipped out of Alonso’s grasp.

Vettel takes the title

Vettel, up front, was unaware that he’d been in a position to win the championship for much of the race – his team only told him about the points situation after he crossed the line.

After 55 laps of Yas Marina, Vettel crossed the line to win his fifth Grand Prix of 2010.

And a few seconds later, the team told him he had also won the 2010 world championship.

He was followed home by the two McLarens – Hamilton unable to reduce Vettel’s lead after Kubica pitted.

Kubica finished fifth behind Rosberg and one place ahead of his team mate. Alonso, seventh, saw a potential third world championship slip through his fingers by just four points. He shook his fist at Petrov on his way back to the pits.

Long-term championship leader Webber was eighth, falling to third in the world championship. Massa never managed to find a way past Alguersuari and ended the race in tenth behind the Toro Rosso.

Outside the points were Heidfeld, Barrichello, Sutil, Kobayashi, Buemi and H???lkenberg, followed by top new team driver Kovalainen, ahead of di Grassi, Senna and Klien.

Jarno Trulli was classified last but retired four laps from the flag when his rear wing fell off.

For the second weekend in a row, Red Bull celebrate a championship victory – first the constructors’ championship, and now the drivers’ title.

Remarkably, it’s not their driver who had the most point going into this weekend who won the title – it was Sebastian Vettel, Germany’s new world champion.

2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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186 comments on “Vettel grabs title as Alonso and Webber falter”

  1. haha! Take that, team orders!

    1. Yes, that’s what I like about today’s result. Well done RB guys ! The cleanest win possible.

      1. Mark Webber’s not bad for a “number two”.

    2. It is one thing that the team that used team orders did not win the championship.

      What is interesting is that RB won the race *because* they did not use team orders. Had they used team orders in Brazil, which several people wanted, it would have been disastrous.

      1. true, but team orders do give advantage, the point is Ferrari didn’t play it with a class.
        I think team orders will persist but in more civilised way.

        1. No. Team orders do not always give advantage, did you not read what MacademiaNut said? If they’d pulled the team orders card on Vettel in Brazil Alonso would be champion now. Team orders can be an advantage, but there’s no guarantee they will be. For all we know, with a win under his belt and the added boost in confidence Massa might’ve strung together a whole series of great results and come from behind to win the championship. Team orders are unsportsmanlike and a stupid gamble.

          1. Perfectly said US Peter. I could not agree with you more!

          2. Totally agree man. Who knows what kind of mental effect Hockenheim had on Massa’s head. This was the guy who not only 2 years ago lost the WDC by a point.
            I was one of those pushing for RB to support Mark, but ive seen the light.
            Team orders can have an advantage ONLY if the other driver is out of the running, as long as both are in it, no.

          3. Thank you! Hear, hear.

          4. If RB had used ‘on track’ team orders all season they would have won it earlier.

            But they clearly favoured Vettel through the season anyway or are you just over looking that.

          5. So many people thought RBR shoulda favoured Webber at Inter. HA!

            A lesson learned for many.

        2. Vettel during race said ‘Radio not working properly’, may be thinking he will get team orders from Ferrari, ‘Sab, Alonso is faster than u’. lol.

    3. yeah yeah well deserved champion….this is sweetest victory off all time, and Ferrari don’t take driver championship and cry baby Alonso….this is pay back for what hi did to Mclaren and Hamilton three years ago….and gesture to Petrov just show how Alonso is bad bad loser
      team orders sucks

      1. Contrast Alonso with how Massa reacted after losing the title in 2008.

        Felipe, you deserve a better and more loyal team than Ferrari.

        Well done RBR. Stick that in your pipe Montezemolo.

        1. yes massa get the f. out of ferrari cuze you suck

          1. Imagine if Webber had been let through in Brazil! RBR would have looked stupid!

            Vettel needed to win the last few races, if his engine hadn’t gone in Korea he’d have won the last 4 races. Incredible finish to the most incredible season.

        2. Wish I could’ve seen old Monty’s face through the last laps of the race.

        3. Wow, hadn’t thought of that yet John H! Great point. We all know who has the true class at Ferrari now.

          and rbr: You can tell people they suck when you learn how to use proper grammar and spelling. Massa is a good driver, and I’d have him on my team over a selfish cry baby like Alonso anyday.

    4. Ferrari robbed us of moment of the season for nothing. Hope they’re happy. Wait, of course they are. Ferrari are never wrong.

      1. hahaha yeah always right. Without Kimi, with stupid team orders, then always pointing out to everyone else! I enjoyed the 2007 championship but as a Kimi fan, and now I really joy of Vettel’s CHAMPIONSHIP!!!!!!!!!

      2. Yep. The Massa win on the anniversary of his crash would’ve been one of the emotional high points of the season.

        1. “Yep. The Massa win on the anniversary of his crash would’ve been one of the emotional high points of the season.”

          US Peter

          It absolutely would have been, possibly the highest, and for that alone Ferrari didn’t deserve the championship today.

    5. Yup.
      Over so many races, so many decisions, pits stops, braking points, turn ins, something is bound to go wrong at some time or another.
      Ferrai put all their eggs in one basket and game over. Red Bull had Webber screwed up today but they still had Vettel to bring it home.

    6. Amen Preacher!!

    7. The Sri Lankan
      15th November 2010, 8:36

      Congrats to vettel. even though i wanted alonso to win the title im happy as long as some one that hasnt won the title other than mark webber has done it!

  2. Tense race.

    And well played Red Bull. They fooled Ferrari into pitting early. Very shrewd.

    Inexplicably naive of Stefano and the Ferrari strategists. Could they see only Webber in the race? They forgot not only about Vettel, but also about Petrov and Rosberg. They failed to follow their own advice of taking it race-by-race like they did for every race in the second half of the year. Too much ‘championship thinking’ today by them. Gutted :(

    But well, Better Sebastian as a champion rather than Webber.

    1. Per sumedh.
      Disappointing for Alonso.

    2. what i don’t undestand is why they needed to cover Alonso from Webber so much. Webber had been struggling with his car since yesterday at qualy, and he had a much taller mountain ahead to climb than Vettel.

      Alonso was in a champ winning position. He was 4th, with guys that didn’t have to pit again behind. It’s very weird.

      1. It was because Webber had started to set fast sector times and they were worried that the tires wouldn’t be able to last that much longer for anybody (since Bridgestone had estimated they wouldn’t last longer than 20 laps). If they had stayed out as long as they could as it was they would have ended up in the same position as the mclarens, but since they were worried they wouldn’t last that long they decided they’d at least hold off webber.

        What they did actually makes perfect sense under the assumption that the tyres wouldn’t last much longer. Unfortunately for them it was that assumption that was wrong!

    3. too much bad driving by Alonso, thought he was such an amazing driver. LOL.

  3. Gotta congratulate Vettel. I’ve been a bit critical of him throughout the season but he thoroughly deserves this title. He’s been quickest all season and despite being hugely unlucky with mechanical errors has managed to snatch it at the last race.

    Do the team favour him? Probably, but that’s hardly Sebastian’s fault. Great job by him.

    1. Also I’d like to add:

      Four different champions in four years with four different teams. F1 is in a pretty good place and long may it continue.

      1. I think it is Five not Four:

        Alonso-Renault, Kimi-Ferrari, Lewis-Mclaren, Jenson-Brawn/Honda, Seb – Red Bull

        1. You’re right, how could I forget that!


          1. Next year there’ll be 5 world champs on the grid…. if only Jacques had got his entry through the FIA we could have had 6

        2. This has happened once before I think, and twice there has been a run of 7 different champions.

  4. What a season! Thank you so much Keith for all the time and work you put in this blog!! Great stuff!

    1. I’d also like to thank Keith and all the moderators from the live blogs. You have made the season a lot more enjoyable than I could have imagined. :)

  5. Surely Alonso just had to keep behind Button and try passing in the pits – if necessary. Bizarre decision to pit given Massa and Webber were already facing problems in passing. Even worse for Alonso getting stuck behind Petrov fighting for his F1 career!

    Vettel delivered, Webber didn’t. Red Bull vindicated. Ferrari merely come out of the season looking like sore losers and cheats. Roll on 2011! For now Vettel reigns supreme and beating him and RBR next year will take even more.

    1. Ferrari merely come out of the season looking like sore losers and cheats.


    2. Ferrari merely come out of the season looking like sore losers and cheats.

      Best quote of the year? :)

      1. Best quote of the year?

        Maybe Keith would put that as the Quote o the day.”

        1. Also, Petrov delivered, Alonso didn’t. It’s actually kind of sad for Alonso cause that’s the team he left for Ferrari. Blocked by the car of the team he left to win a championship!

  6. I was very pleased with that podium I must admit: the last 3 WCs. Tankfully neither Mark or Fernando were on the podium: they would have brought bad mood with them. These 3 were all smiles.
    The McLarens end the season on a high note. Both drivers did a great job. Button’s pass on Fernando at the start probably was quite crucial.
    Webber finally paid the errors he’s made lately (Singapore, Korea, a poor qulifying here)
    I praise Alonso as a driver, but I am glad he didn’t win the crwon, due to this Hockenheim thing. And the gesture to Petrov at the end wasn’t so nice either. Petrov was fully entitled to save his seat too.
    Nice for Vettel: Ok much (very much) is due to the RB’s superiority on saturdays, but this was the case last year too, and you still have to deliver. Well done.

    But, wasn’t ity the first back-paddle race for Kamui ? Ending the race 2 places astern of his start position ? Tss tss…

    1. Did I say Singapore ? Well he was on the podium there… Monza rather…

    2. What was the go with the “champagne” at the end? First it wouldn’t shake up, then Hamilton spat it out after they all took a swig at the same time… lmao

      1. No Alcohol in it – Muslim country. We laughed a lot over Lewis’ dislike for it, hehe…

    3. “Thankfully neither Mark or Fernando were on the podium: they would have brought bad mood with them.”

      Although, if alonso was on the podium he would have been somewhat happier…

    4. Had Alonso been on podium, he wud have won the chamionship. I think u r carried away with Vettel winning and forgetting the facts

  7. Not bad for a no.1 driver :p

    1. It was inevitable. Mark needs to find another team to have a realistic shot at the title, really. :(

      1. sorry to say this… this is how far Mark would go from a career perspective.

        1. He will never get into McLaren, Ferrari, and probably not Mercedes, so I don’t think there is a team that would take him capable of allowing to compete. Even if he did get into McLaren or Ferrari he would be defeated by his teamate. The only reason he came so close this year was his dominant car and a teamate who had more reliability problems and is not fully matured into a sensible driver. Vettel threw away a lot of points this year. When he starts making less mistakes he will not be troubled by Webber over a championship again.

          1. Younger Hamilton
            14th November 2010, 20:29

            He wont get into Renault either considering what Petrov did to Alonso was just classy and brilliant i think he’s earned his drive for 2011.Mark’s only got Red Bull he has to stay there and said he will we all have to be realistic in what we say.

      2. Ditto Sanjay. Mark webber just had to get into second by the end of the race, not even first. With Alonso stuck where he was even lower would have done. Vettel showed the car was good enough. So how would joining another team help? Kind of sad for Mark, but he should have focused on his driving the past few races rather than hinting that Red Bull should have backed him over Vettel earlier.

        1. exactly David….Sebastian on the other hand capitalized on the potential of the car, the situation and any opportunity that was there (3 wins in the last four races)

      3. No he just threw his Championship in the bin this Saturday that is what happened. If he had delivered a front row, or at least a 3rd he could have won the championship.

    2. Blake Merriam
      15th November 2010, 1:52

      That get’s my vote for quote of the year. :)

  8. the situation for ferrari was actually very complex. they had only one quick driver in the slowest car of the 3 contenders. redbulls had a really fast driver, with nothing to lose, vettel. when mark pitted, he was 1.5 sec behind alonso. Ferrari had two options knowing that the tyre where in a degrading phase : stay on track with the risk of tyre going off and so losing the position to webber, which meant end of the championship. or pit, stay ahead of webber and hope that the rest would go through troubles.
    they went the safe route, and it proved that the unknown one was the best.

    their only mistake was probably to have pitted alonso and massa a little too early; massa could have gone out in front of webber and alonso in front of petrov if they had stayed on track 3/4 laps more.

    and Alonso didn’t show his fist, he showed his fingerS as to say “come on mate, that was not cool”, typical body language to show his disagreement from a spanish or italian person.

    1. I think they responded too hasty. They saw Webber struggling behind Alguersuari and pulled both Massa and Alonso in. But I doubt wether it would have made a difference really. Webber was 0.8 second per lap faster on his fresh tyres and Alonso couldn’t keep up with the McClarens and RBR’s. But they focussed too much on Webber. They should have been focussing on Petrov and Rosberg knowing they already pitted, Alonso had to pull away from them like Hamilton did and there wouldn’t have been a problem. It was a tricky situation and the decision they made was definetly wrong.

    2. “not cool” that you didn’t pull over and let me through in a car race. Alonso shows he has no class… again.

      1. it is nothing but the body language of a bad temper guy. nothing mean or arrogant. vettel did the same to webber earlier in the year, hamilton criticised on the radio the person who made him change tyres to early in which ever race. montoya insulted raikkonen on the radio.
        it is a good thing that they are not all hypocrite and politically correct like some others.

        1. Yeah, good point Pi. I’m probably too harsh, but it was very disappointing to see. You can still have polite non-robots.

          1. You know, after such a tough season its normal for a driver to be angry. Just let him vent a little, no harm there.

            Did you guys see how Torro Rosso let Webber through?