2011 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Race Report

This year’s Abu Dhabi race was extremely uneventful. Last year it was the one of the pivotal races where Sebastian Vettel took his championship. Although there were some nice scuffles in the front group, what’s very telling of the race’s excitement level is that, after Vettel’s tyre-puncture and retirement, most of the standings in the top-10 were raised only by one spot.

Race Direction: Poor

This time I have to be a little harsh, even though the race director managed to give a balanced coverage of the race and even catch half the pit-stops on camera, there were way too many missed yellow-flags and he didn’t even show D’Ambrosio’s retirement. Even Buemi’s is questionable since he was only seen after he had already left his car and taken his helmet off.

The Top-10

After Sebastian Vettel dropped out, Lewis Hamilton drove to an easy victory. Fernando Alonso did the most impressive work of the day by rising from fifth on the grid to second in the finish. Jenson Button had to fight Mark Webber furiously at times for the final podium but came out on top at the end.

Mark Webber also had a scuffle with Felipe Massa, but a slip by Massa late into the race put too much of a gap for the Ferrari to catch up. Webber was fourth and Massa was fifth.

A solid race from Mercedes GP and Force India. Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher finished sixth and seventh respectively; Adrian Sutil and Paul Di Resta took spots eight and nine. After a long string of disappointing races, Kamui Kobayashi finally drove a solid performance and finished tenth and last in points.

Golden Pineapple Award

Sergio Perez took his third Pineapple Award for the season, which means that he still has a chance to dethrone Adrian Sutil as this year’s pineapple leader in the last race of the season in Brazil. Perez had an up-hill battle all the way since he had to replace his wing during the first few laps of the race. Sauber has solidified its second place in the Pineapple standings with a total of four pineapple victories.

Drop-out count: 4

Sebastian Vettel‘s tyre punctured during the first few turns of starting lap. Though he made it to the pits, his suspension was so damaged that there was no way for him to move on.

I can’t really say what happened to Sebastian Buemi, Daniel Ricciardo or Jerome D’Ambrosio since the director didn’t even bother showing most of these retirements. However, since there were no yellow flags for D’Ambrosio and Buemi was seen in the pits shortly after he retired, my suspicion is that the retirements were technical in nature and these two managed to park into the pits. Ricciardo’s car was left on the side of the track during the latter part of the race so I suspect his retirement was a technical problem too.

Back of the Lot News

Despite starting at historically awful grid positions, the Williams team was at least able to improve their over-all result with Rubens Barrichello finishing twelfth and Pastor Maldonado, despite messed up pit-exits and a drive-through penalty, was able to finish fourteenth.

Today it was the Renault Team that really weren’t up to their usual performance with Vitaly Petrov slipping off the track at one point and Bruno Senna also receiving a drive-through penalty for ignoring blue flags. Toro Rosso’s day was pretty pathetic considering Buemi’s retirement and Jaime Alguersuari’s extremely unimpressive fifteenth place.

Heikki Kovalainen was racing well and drove at a steady pace at positions 12-14th until his final pit stop which landed him back at 17th, the spot he started from. He was followed by Trulli, Glock and Liuzzi.