Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Vettel dominates again and celebrates with donuts once more
3 November, 2013
Sebastian Vettel snubbed his nose at officialdom after winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, his eleventh triumph of the season thus far, and celebrating with a series of donuts on the slowdown lap – much to the delight of the packed stands - in defiance of the reprimand he received after doing the same thing in India a week earlier.
Vettel, recently crowned F1 World Champion for the fourth time in a row, was simply in a league of his own around the sparkling Yas Marina Circuit as he powered into the lead, from second place on the grid, into Turn 1 thereafter building a gap which he was to maintain and control until the chequered flag. Never challenged, never threatened, another cruise.
He won by a whopping 30.8 seconds, which would have been much more had he been going flat out in the final stages of the race. Pretty much the usual the story of his remarkable run of seven wins on the trot.
As the Red Bull driver crossed the line in triumph his engineer Guillaume ‘Rocky’ Rocquelin said on the radio: “Just bring the car home. Into the garage.”
To which Vettel replied tongue in cheek before doing a series of donuts in celebration, “Let me quote: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what I am doing.”
To which team principal Christian Horner quipped to his winning driver, “You can pay the fine on that one.”
In India, last time out, stewards gave Vettel a reprimand for his actions and fined the team €25,000.
The World Champion said afterwards, “It’s incredible, thanks to all the fans – the atmosphere was fantastic. To get so much support and so much for Red Bull. The car was absolutely brilliant so thanks for the team and thanks to Renault too, as so much of our success is down to them too.”
Of his parents, who he hugged after he climbed out of his car in parc ferme, the 26 year old said, “I have spent most of my life racing in front of them as a kid. The cars are a bit bigger now but I am so pleased they are here to see me today. They taught me lots of good things and one day I want to pass that on to my children if I have them.”
Behind him his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber – starting from pole position – again duffed the start, but recovered to take second place ahead of Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg who finished third and Lotus’ Romain Grosjean in fourth.
Webber summed up his evening, “The start wasn’t great and Nico got an unbelievable start. I had to battle with Nico for second. I would have liked the win but I matched my best result here. There are plenty of Aussie fans here so thank you and on to Austin now.”
Rosberg reflected, “I am happy, third place was good. The plan for the weekend was to be the best of the rest behind Red Bull and we achieved that. It could have been second on another day but it didn’t quite work out.
“The most important thing is to finish second in the Constructor’s Championship not only financially but also motivationally for the team to see that we have the second best car.”
Grosjean’s teammate, Kimi Raikkonen who nearly gave Abu Dhabi a miss due to unpaid wages, parked his Lotus within a couple of hundred meters of the start after contact with a Caterham going into Turn 1 on the opening lap. The Finn had been relegated to the back of the grid when his Lotus was found to be illegal after qualifying.
If it was somewhat of a bore for the quartet up front, behind them it was riveting stuff with plenty overtaking and even some controversy to spice up proceedings.
Fernando Alonso carved his way from 10th on the grid to fifth, towards the end the Ferrari driver was faster than anyone else. His strategy allowed him to run the yellow band softer (and faster) Pirelli tyres for the last dozen laps, in which he dispensed of Paul di Resta in the Force India and Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes – the latter two finishing sixth and seventh respectively.
Alonso was under investigation at the end of the race after an incident following his pitstop when he rejoined the track side-by-side with Jean-Eric Vergne and took to the run-off area rather than conceding the position. The stewards deemed the move to be legitimate and no action was taken.
Felipe Massa was eighth for Ferrari, with McLaren’s Sergio Perez ninth and Adrian Sutil taking the final point for Force India despite starting from 17th and stopping only once.
With two races remaining it is quite clear that Red Bull and Vettel in particular are going to be hard to beat, with records likely to continue tumbling. The German is on target to equal both Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of 13 grand prix victories in one season and the nine straight F1 wins scored by Alberto Ascari, which has stood for 60 years.
Also one to watch, a sideshow perhaps, is the battle for second place in the Constructors’ Championship – and the bags of extra cash that go to the runner up as opposed to third place – where Mercedes leads Ferrari by four points.
Final word to the World Champion, “I think today was incredible, the pace we had was scary at some points. I felt very good on the Softs and I was able to pull a massive gap from the start. I think it is hard to put these things into perspective but it’s incredible to have such a strong bunch of people who believe so strongly in what they are doing. The car was flawless, it doesn’t happen that often that the car responds to everything you want and I am looking forward to tonight, where there will be a few drinks.”
Subbed by AJN.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Result, Yas Marina Circuit – 3 November 2013
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||55||Winner||2||25|
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||55||+30.8 secs||1||18|
|3||9||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||55||+33.6 secs||3||15|
|4||8||Romain Grosjean||Lotus-Renault||55||+34.8 secs||6||12|
|5||3||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||55||+67.1 secs||10||10|
|6||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||55||+78.1 secs||11||8|
|7||10||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||55||+79.2 secs||4||6|
|8||4||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||55||+82.8 secs||7||4|
|9||6||Sergio Perez||McLaren-Mercedes||55||+91.1 secs||8||2|
|10||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||55||+93.2 secs||17||1|
|11||16||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Renault||55||+95.9 secs||14|
|12||5||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||+ secs||12|
|13||12||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber-Ferrari||+ secs||16|
|14||11||Nico Hulkenberg||Sauber-Ferrari||+1 Lap||5|
|15||17||Valtteri Bottas||Williams-Renault||+1 Lap||15|
|16||19||Daniel Ricciardo||STR-Ferrari||+1 Lap||9|
|17||18||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Ferrari||+1 Lap||13|
|18||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||+1 Lap||18|
|19||20||Charles Pic||Caterham-Renault||+1 Lap||19|
|20||22||Jules Bianchi||Marussia-Cosworth||+2 Lap||21|
|21||23||Max Chilton||Marussia-Cosworth||+2 Lap||20|
|Ret||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus-Renault||+ secs||22|
Note – Bianchi qualified 20th, but penalised 5 grid places for an unscheduled gearbox change. Raikkonen qualified fifth, but dropped to back of grid after car failed floor deflection test.