#F1 Race Review: Sebastian Vettel Makes It Seven In A Row

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor James Parker

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Sebastian Vettel took a completely dominant victory under the setting Abu Dhabi sun, winning by a completely unbelievable 30 seconds from his team-mate Webber which allowed the Red Bull team to claim yet another 1-2. Nico Rosberg was the only man on the day to take any kind of fight to the Red Bull pair as he claimed a second consecutive podium to take 3rd over the line – resisting a late charge from the Lotus of Grosjean in 4th.

The Race

Off the start, Webber made yet another traditional slow start and this allowed both Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg to go either side of the Red Bull man into the first corner to take first and second place. 4th place man Lewis Hamilton also showed his nose inside the Red Bull of Webber, however he was squeezed on the apex and lost 4th place to the fast starting Lotus of Grosjean.

Further back the traditional first corner chaos started to play out. Jenson Button damaged his front wing due to contact with the Torro Rosso of Jean Eric Vergne, forcing him to pit at the start of lap 2 to replace his front wing. Elsewhere, Kimi Raikkonen who was forced to start from the back of the grid due to failing a floor deflection test post qualifying, made contact with the Caterham of Charles Pic on the apex of turn 1, damaging his front right track rod and therefore succumbing to his first 1st lap retirement since 2006 – a frustrating end to what has been an incredibly tense weekend for the Finn.

By lap 5 the top 8 had started to settle down, and Vettel up front was imperious. Stretching his lead up to 3.7 seconds it was looking like another typical dominant performance was in store. If Webber had any hope of winning, he needed to pass 2nd place man Rosberg and quickly.

The first front running driver to set off the first pit stop phase was Lewis Hamilton on lap 8. Running in 5th place behind Grosjean, he bolted on a set of fresh medium compound tyres – aiming to possibly undercut both Grosjean and Webber ahead of him.

This was short lived however, as the two directly ahead of him covered each other on lap 9, pitting for fresh medium tyres and therefore re-joining directly ahead of the Mercedes of Hamilton. They came out directly behind the longer running Sauber of Guttierez, with both Webber and Grosjean making short work on fresher tyres. Hamilton however was having more trouble and was told to drop back due to overheating his tyres.

Both Rosberg and Vettel were running longer up front, with the Mercedes pitting on lap 11, and re-joining behind the longer running Ferrari’s of Massa and Alonso in 2nd and 3rd place. Vettel waited until lap 14 and came back out ahead of Massa in 2nd place, such was his dominance at the head of the field.

Further back, Hamilton was still struggling to get past the Sauber of Guttierez, until the Mexican decided to pit for the first time on lap 19 – which then released the Briton, who himself was coming under pressure from the Ferrari of Massa who had recently pitted for the first time after running a long first stint.

After dispatching the longer running traffic, Mark Webber was looking at staking his claim on second place. With Rosberg up ahead getting caught behind the Force India of Paul Di Resta, Webber made his move into the turn 12/13 chicane. Using some clever KERS usage and DRS together, he got a great run on the outside of Rosberg and held the line into the chicane to take a provisional 2nd place.

By lap 22, Vettel’s dominance was getting ever more ridiculous as he now enjoyed a 27 second lead over the newly promoted 2nd place man Webber, once the first pitstop phase and traffic shakeup had settled down.

Further back , Adrian Sutil, like India, was looking at doing a super long first stint and by this point in the race was really struggling with tyres, holding up Hamilton, Massa, Hulk and Alonso behind. It was this situation which allowed for potentially the overtake of the race, as Massa made a very opportunist move stick on Hamilton ahead. Utilising DRS and a double slip stream, he poked his nose up the inside of Hamilton into the turn 12/13 chicane to make a move stick.

He then did exactly the same to 5th place Sutil a lap on, and Hamilton followed suit by lap 28 in the same place of the racetrack… Eventually.

As the second pit stop phase’s beganmon lap 28, there was high controversy, as 8th place man Hulk appeared to have been unsafely released into the path of Perez behind – a penalty was potentially on the cards as Perez had to take immediate avoiding action. Inevitably, for the teams actions, this penalty came to fruition on lap 34 as Hulk was given a drive through penalty, destroying his race.

The top 3 at this point where in a race of their own. 2nd and 3rd place men Webber and Rosberg pitted together on lap 34 and retained their positions on the medium compound tyres, Whilst Vettel waited until lap 38 to pit for the final time – re-joining comfortably in the lead once again.

4th place man Grosjean waited until the same lap as Vettel to make his final stop, and exited the pits in extreme close proximity to both Ferrari’s behind in 5th and 6th place.

Both Ferrari’s appeared to be on 1 stop strategies after stretching out their first stints earlier on in the race, but by lap 39 Ferrari looked to have changed tack pitting Massa from 5th place for his second stop, and he re-joined in 9th place behind the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.

The other Ferrari of Alonso was still running strongly in 5th place, with lap times looking very consistent indeed, which led many to believe Ferrari were simply splitting their strategies. But by lap 46, the Scuderia brought the Spaniard in for the soft compound tyres on low fuel, rejoining just behind the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and having an extremely close call with Jean Eric Vergne exiting the pits – supposedly leaving the track limits to pass the Torro Rosso man.

By lap 51, Alonso was showing excellent pace with fresh soft compound tyres, taking all the life out of them he could. Latching himself on to the back of the struggling Lewis Hamilton, he pounced once again at the turn 12/13 chicane to take 6th place. Following that up with a move on 5th place Di Resta who was one stopping, at turn 8 the following lap, he capped off what was a solid recovery drive from such a poor qualifying session.

But up front it was all about Sebastian Vettel. Claiming his 7th straight victory in 2013, replicating the achievements of Schumacher and Ascari, it was once again yet another champion’s drive from the German, winning by over half a minute from those behind. Webber took a solid 2nd place, but was never in the same race as Vettel during the entire evening. Nico Rosberg and Romain Grosjean offered the closest resistance to the Red Bull’s in 3rd and 4th place, but the driver of the day had to be 6th place man Di Resta, who held off Hamilton late on and executed a brilliant 1 stop strategy in the Force India.

What Pirelli Say
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “First of all, congratulations to Sebastian Vettel for winning this race. A variety of strategies were deployed, with good levels of wear and degradation on both compounds, which meant that drivers were able to complete long opening stints even on the soft tyre. Sebastian drove a masterful race to win without ever losing the lead, making the most of the fact that he had not used the medium compound at all in qualifying, leaving him with two fresh sets of mediums today.

As usual we saw a high degree of track evolution and falling track temperatures over the course of the race, although perhaps not to the extent we actually anticipated.”

Fastest times of the day by compound:

Soft                                       Medium
First ALO – 1.43.434            VET – 1.43.893
Second BOT – 1.44.351      GRO – 1.44.301
Third SUT – 1.45.609          WEB – 1.44.364

Longest stint of the race:

Medium 44 laps – J Button
Soft 28 laps – A Sutil

Final Classification:

 

Pos  Driver         Team

1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault

2.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault

3.  Rosberg        Mercedes

4.  Grosjean       Lotus-Renault

5.  Alonso         Ferrari

6.  Di Resta       Force India-Mercedes

7.  Hamilton       Mercedes

8.  Massa          Ferrari

9.  Perez          McLaren-Mercedes

10.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes

11.  Maldonado      Williams-Renault

12.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes

13.  Gutierrez      Sauber-Ferrari

14.  Hulkenberg     Sauber-Ferrari

15.  Bottas         Williams-Renault

16.  Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari

17.  Vergne         Toro Rosso-Ferrari

18.  van der Garde  Caterham-Renault

19.  Pic            Caterham-Renault

20.  Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth

21.  Chilton        Marussia-Cosworth

Fastest lap: Alonso 1m43.434s.

Not classified/retirements:

Raikkonen      Lotus-Renault

World Drivers Championship

2013 Drivers' Championship post-Abu Dhabi

World Constructors Championship

2013 Constructors' Championship post-Abu Dhabi

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17 responses to “#F1 Race Review: Sebastian Vettel Makes It Seven In A Row

  1. Kimi would have had an even shorter race if he’d have been aboard the LWB Lotus.

  2. Someone please explain how Alonso escaped penalty. I thought it was the responsibility of the car leaving the pits to leave room for a car already on the racing line.

    • Yes, Alonso should have been given a 15 second penalty to reflect the time he would have lost for a drive through. In reality he would have lost even more time as he would not have again got stuck behind other drivers and have been unable to push as fast as he did in clear air.

    • AJ – I was curious about it myself, and I found that all three parties, (Vergne, Alonso, and the stewards) had similar views about the incident.

      The Stewards of the Race:
      “While Car 3 did leave the track at Turn 3-4 the stewards believe that he had no choice, as Car 18 closed on him. Car 18 was at the end of his stint with worn tyres and was fully committed to the Turn as Car 3 exited the pits. Telemetry confirms that Car 3 was significantly faster, on option tyres, and had the advantage throughout the sequence. The drivers’ explanations were completely clear. Therefore the Stewards determine that neither car could avoid the incident, and no advantage was gained as a result of the incident.”

      Vergne: “It was a racing incident and if he had not gone on the outside [of the track] like he did, we would have had a big crash,” Vergne told AUTOSPORT.
      “It was high-speed, and what he did was right. Actually, I am really happy he did that otherwise we would have had an accident, so yes, definitely [the stewards made the right decision].”
      “I knew that I might be racing against him but as I didn’t see him on the left, I thought he was in front of me. But he was next to me where I could not see him.”

      Alonso:
      “You have to leave a space when you have a car alongside.
      “He didn’t give a space and I had to go outside of the track.
      “I wanted to come out behind to be honest, because then in Turn 4 I had the detection point and could pass on the DRS and with the good traction from the new softs,” said the Spaniard.
      “But I was side by side and already in front, so I was surprised and I was forced to go off the track.
      “But ‘plan A’ was to pass him with the DRS.”

      • Yas Marina’s pit exit is in a crap position and bound to cause just this kind of incident. If you miss seeing the car leaving the pits, you’re committed to the corner and using the full track width on exit then adjusting your line that late will always be a problem. JEV wouldn’t be the first person to ask “Where the fk did he come from??” in that immediate vicinity.

        I pretty much saw it as a racing incident myself. Alan Jones was one of the guest stewards. He’s a bit of a ‘just let them race’ kind of guy, so the decision wasn’t a surprise for me.

        What was surprising for me was Fred’s *expectation* that JEV would know he was going to be passed with a banzai (samurai?) move on his outside through that corner. Then again maybe that’s why Fred usually has good first laps, imposing himself on situations and (usually) getting away with it.

        He was lucky to get away with launching himself over the bump strips going around JEV. Someone tweeted that he put 25g through the car. His first lap last week in India – where he did a good impression of tennis ball in a clothes dryer ( 😉 Berrets) – is now less surprising as well.

  3. Someone at Mercedes need to tell Lewis that the days of old style racing have long gone. It is pointless chasing someone lap after lap under one second gap; because all you do is burn out your tyres and overheat your engine. He needs to learn to keep at 3 seconds behind and bide his time.
    He may be a good racer, but I am afraid, and I am sorry, to say intelligent he is not.
    Gary Anderson made exactly this point (except only that he did not say Lewis was thick) in his commentary on Radio5Live.

    • I’d agree, I’m a huge fan of his, but I think Seb nailed it when he called him a phenomenal natural talent, and the issue here is, unlike many of the others, he doesn’t seem to have developed that quite as well into something broader. Lewis just wants to do this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDkK8a4jHZ8 (coincidently with mr Vettel) and F1 currently does not allow you to, or there is no guarantee, even if next years tyres are solid as rocks, that the engines will either. I think its all part and parcel of his flaky form, when he’s on it he’s near unbeatable, but unlike Seb, he’s never really closed down his weaknesses.

      • “… I’m a huge fan of his, …. ”

        So am I, which is why I find it frustrating that no one seems to have told him to be patient and bide his time. This happened at the last race in India too, and has also been true in other races this year. It used to be the same when Lewis was at McLaren (I remember how he was stuck behind Michael Schumacher for 20 laps at the Italian Grand Prix in September 2011). In contrast you hear race engineers of other drivers remind their racer (even very smart racers like Alonso) to initially keep a gap of 3 seconds and to save tyres for a successful overtake later in the race.

        As for race engineers, Lewis likes to be kept informed of how he is doing compared to people two or three places both in front and behind him, but he doesn’t seem to get enough of that from his engineer at Mercedes.

        • p.s. I am also miffed because I had predicted Lewis would finish 6th allowing for Lewis’s unintelligent model of driving. If he had got past Di Resta, my score on the http://gppredictor.com/ game would have been MEGA and I would be top of the tj13 leaderboard!

          • Lol, Lewis is killing my GP predictor score as well. I think the issue is as much team strategy/set up as driving style tho. Earlier in the year he was able to successfully overtake most runners, lately not so much. Rosberg too had issues last race getting by Massa, shouldn’t be a prob with the horses Merc bring to the table.

            Still, last week they undercut Massa with Rosberg because they couldn’t pass on track, but brought Lewis in on the same lap as Massa, dooming him to scrub his tyres in dirty air until he was a sitting duck late in the race. Why not pit him a lap earlier or later? Let him race into a Massa and Rosberg sized hole for a lap,or bring him in early and let him take time out of Massa on old tires. Clearly the car has pace in clean air.

            This week, same thing, pit him early and he comes out stuck behind Gutierrez, who was admittedly weaving like a drunken sailor to let Hulk on new tyres catch him up, and his race is effectively over, because a Merc can’t pass a Sauber. I’m sure the rebuild didn’t help him very much, but still, I feel like they have gone too far the wrong direction with their race set up and it’s not serving Lewis very well at the moment.

            It really seems to be an issue in low speed corners, which on new tracks always occur right before the DRS straights. The Mercs just are awful and it always looks like they give away several tenths just before hitting the DRS due to it.

  4. have said it b4 and still stand by it. the greatest drivers in history not only dominated their chosen venue of choice, but also went on to win against the finest in other houses. having said that, I now humbly bow to Saint Seb for yet another WWF SMACKDOWN performance in front of a number of WDC and other dorks. sheer brilliance in his chosen venue of F!… damned. if I could only see him in the Indy500, the Daytona500, LeMans, and Baja,,,

    • Sadly the Indy500 won’t happen as he would have to miss at least one F1 GP. Else I wouldn’t put it past RB to buy a Dallara Chassis to enter him in the Indy500 – reigning F1 world champion driving in the 500 – that hasn’t happened since Mansell in 1993.

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