Sebastian Vettel ensured a winning end to the 2009 season for Red Bull
Racing with victory in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, securing second in the F1 championship standings in the process.
After polesitter Lewis Hamilton
was forced to retire from the race, Vettel stamped his authority on the first event at the new Yas Marina circuit for his fourth win of the season, while the victory also ensured that Red Bull
concluded the season as the team to beat with three wins in the final three events of the campaign.
Vettel had started the race from second on the grid but wasn't expected to go any better in the race, with many tipping Hamilton to drive away from the field after his stunning performance in qualifying. However, despite keeping his lead off the line, the McLaren
man was unable to break away from Vettel and Webber behind – with Webber having been lucky to emerge from the first corner unscathed after a tag on the rear left from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn.
Outgoing champion Hamilton did his best to try and break away but Vettel shadowed his every move through the opening stages of the race, with it soon becoming apparent that the Briton would have more of a fight on his hands than paddock observers had imagined before the start.
Running lighter than the Red Bull
pair behind, Hamilton was the first man to stop of the leading trio and although he was able to stay ahead of Webber, a series of quick laps allowed Vettel to make his stop and emerge on track ahead of the McLaren. Had Vettel pitted just seconds earlier however, that could have been very different after the Toro Rosso
of Jaime Alguersuari
cruised into the pits to retire only for the Spanish rookie to stop in the wrong pit box; the Red Bull
crew quickly sending him on his way as Vettel prepared to make his stop.
As Vettel rejoined in front, Hamilton was warned over the radio that his McLaren
may be suffering from a brake issue and within a matter of laps, he brought his car into the pits to retire from the race.
Hamilton's retirement left Vettel free to cruise to victory, but it was a different story altogether for Webber as he came under pressure from new champion Jenson Button
in the closing laps. Button had battled ahead of team-mate Barrichello early on as the Brazilian was forced to deal with the loss of downforce from damaging his front-wing at the start and then found himself third once the pitstops had been completed.
Quicker than Webber ahead in the closing laps, Button was all over the rear of the Red Bull
as the pair entered the final lap and briefly managed to get ahead under braking, but Webber was able to hold on for second. Third for Button marked only the second time the new champion has finished on the podium since his victory in the Turkish Grand Prix.
Despite the early damage to his car, Barrichello was able to take fourth place, although that wasn't enough to secure second in the championship standings as the Brazilian had gone into the weekend trailing Vettel in the race to finish as runner-up to Button.