• Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Vettel grabs title glory in style as Alonso gamble fails

Fraser Masefield
November 14, 2010

Sebastian Vettel snatched the drivers' title from the grasp of his rivals after a brilliant drive in the Abu Dhabi night sky ended with glory for Red Bull.

The race hinged on a backfiring gamble from Ferrari to bring Fernando Alonso in from fourth for an earlier than expected pit stop, but the Spaniard's hard tyres failed to come to him and he languished in the midfield behind the longer running cars before finishing a disappointing seventh.

Vettel made the most of his pole position to lead into the first corner from Hamilton and a fast-starting Jenson Button, who got the jump on Alonso. But the big incident came immediately behind the leaders, Michael Schumacher spinning his Mercedes in an attempt to defend position from team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Unable to put the brakes on in time, Tonio Liuzzi ploughed into Schumacher's car, his front wing and nosecone just missing the seven-time world champion's head. It marked the end of a disappointing return to Formula One for Schumacher but it could easily have ended in far worse circumstances.

When racing resumed after the safety car period, Vettel was disappearing into the distance, pulling out a second a lap to Alonso by lap eight. Red Bull was the first team to blink on lap 12, Webber coming in for an early tyre change, the Australian paying the price for running his one set of soft tyres longer in qualifying. Four laps later it was Alonso's turn, Ferrari reacting to Red Bull's move and the Spaniard coming out just ahead of Webber.

But the pair came out behind Vitaly Petrov and Nico Rosberg, who grabbed a quick stop behind the safety car and, with the tyres failing to come to Alonso, so his title chances disappeared into the Abu Dhabi night. Webber also struggled to make any inroads from the midfield and found himself staring at the Ferrari's gearbox for the rest of the race. In stark contrast, Button's legendary tyre management and race craft paid handsome dividends, the 2009 champion staying out and momentarily grabbing the lead of the race.

A frightening collision between Schumacher and Liuzzi at the start brought out the safety car © Getty Images
But there was no denying Vettel, who once again took the lead after Button's late stop to win the title in style by taking the chequered flag from Hamilton and Button. In truth, it has to be said that Vettel is a deserved world champion and but for some technical misfortunes and unfortunate retirements could well have wrapped up the title earlier in the season.

As it was, Vettel won by four points from Alonso with Webber 14 points behind in third. But McLaren's double podium means they finished second in the constructors' standings ahead of Ferrari.

For Alonso, the quest for a third drivers' title must wait for 2011 and there will now be no repercussions into the rigged German Grand Prix result. Some may say that justice was done.

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