Hamilton wins in Abu Dhabi after Vettel goes out early
Lewis Hamilton got his third season victory at the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix on Sunday after world champion Sebastian Vettel went out in the first lap, dpa reported.
The 2008 world champion Hamilton won the day-to-night race for his first top spot since the German GP in July ahead of Fernando Alonso in a Ferrari and his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button.
The Red Bull driver Vettel won the start from the pole position before spinning off going into the second turn. He limped into the pits with a right rear puncture, but damage to the whole wheel and the exhaust forced him to retire for the first time in 2011.
Vettel looked a bit downcast and was consoled among other by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, but the German had already wrapped up back-to-back world titles last month and Red Bull the constructors' title as well.
Vettel heads the standings with 374 points into the November 27 season-ender in Brazil where the battle for second place comes down to the wire.
Button has 255, Alonso 245 and Mark Webber 233 for Red Bull. Hamilton is out of contention on 227 and will finish behind a team-mate for the first time in his F1 career despite Sunday's victory.
Vettel won the last two races and equalled Nigel Mansell's record of 14 poles in a season on Saturday. With 11 season victories to his credit, the German was also chasing Michael Schumacher's record of 13 for which he needed to win Sunday and in Brazil.
However, that dream went up in smoke just seconds into the race at the 5.554km Yas Marina Circuit where he won his first world title last year.
Hamilton found himself in the lead ahead of Alonso, who managed to pass Button going into the first turn from third place on the grid.
Hamilton did not manage to pull away decisively from Alonso but the Spaniard never managed to launch a serious attack after the first lap.
Behind the two, Button battled Webber and Kers problems before Webber dropped to fifth behind Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari after a long first pit stop.
Webber got back to fourth and even briefly moved ahead of Button again, but in the end he missed the podium in fourth place after a penultimate-lap stop, meaning that Red Bull's run of consecutive podium finishes ended at 19 since Vettel and Webber retired at the Korean race last year.
Up front, Hamilton conserved the lead even though Alonso had a later second stop for fresh tyres and coasted home in 1 hour 37 minutes 11.886 seconds for the 55 laps, 8.4 seconds ahead of Alonso and 25.8 ahead of Button.
Victory was sweet for Hamilton, who had been competitive all weekend after plenty of ups and downs earlier in the season.