Finishing just outside the points, Michael Schumacher had a dramatic race at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday finishing in 11th place. Team-mate Nico Rosberg retired following an incident with Romain and then a collision with Narain.
The winner of the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was former McLaren Mercedes driver, Kimi Raikkonen, driving for Lotus. He held Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso at bay in a to score Lotus’s long overdue first 2012 victory in great style. But a blend of great driving, superb strategic work and pure luck with safety-car interventions saw Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel retain his championship lead with a strong third place after starting on medium tyres from the pit lane.
For the first 19 laps it seemed like Lewis Hamilton’s race, even after an early safety car between Laps Nine and 14 after Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg flew spectacularly over the rear of Narain Karthikeyan’s HRT on Lap Nine as the Indian was slowing with hydraulic problems. Hamilton soon pulled away again at the restart, and was 3.4s ahead of fast-starting Raikkonen when his McLaren lost power and he pulled off at Turn 14 on the 20th lap.
The first safety car helped Vettel to recover from his pit-lane start and a brush with Williams’ Bruno Senna which damaged his front wing. There was an unusual moment when Daniel Ricciardo seemed to brake suddenly whilst behind the safety car and in avoiding his Red Bull stable mate, Vettel further damaged his wing on a DRS marker board by the side of the track. A subsequent early pit stop for used soft tyres and a new nose and wing on the 13th lap dropped him back again.
At that stage the focus was on the way Raikkonen pulled away as Alonso put increasing pressure on Williams’ Pastor Maldonado for second place as Red Bull’s Mark Webber and McLaren’s Jenson Button gave chase. Vettel was 12th.
Maldonado succumbed to Alonso on Lap 21, but on the 23rd lap Webber was involved in an incident when trying to pass Maldonado which saw the Red Bull half spin and lose places to Button, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and Sauber’s Sergio Perez. Three laps later Webber had an incident with Massa, which saw the Brazilian spin.
By the time the pit stops had been made, from the 27th to the 31st laps, Raikkonen was only 1.4s clear of Vettel, and it had now became a matter of whether he could get through the remaining 23 laps on the same rubber as Alonso and Button battled in his wake.
The answer was that he couldn’t, but a superbly timed stop on the 37th lap saw him take a set of fresh softs and drop only to fourth, crucially keeping ahead of a frenetic battle between Grosjean (who had been hit early on by Rosberg), Paul di Resta (who had been involved in a first-corner collision with Force India team mate Nico Hulkenberg and Senna), a recovering Perez and Webber.
Di Resta and Grosjean had both had to pit on the first lap, and now the Scot found a way by the Frenchman on the 38th lap, but as Perez attempted to pass both of them he hit Grosjean and spun, and Webber was left with nowhere to go. The safety car was deployed again from Laps 38 to 42 as the wreckage of Grosjean’s and Webber’s cars was cleared away, and Perez was subsequently given a 10s stop and go penalty.
In the closing laps Raikkonen controlled things perfectly, as Alonso launched a massive challenge for the victory with a flurry of fastest laps which reduced the gap from 3.2s on the 46th lap to 0.8s by the finish. Vettel went from being 29.8s down on Raikkonen to just 3.3s thanks to the second safety car deployment, after which he hounded Button until he was able to slip by on the 52nd lap before slashing the deficit to his two title rivals.
Button took a lonely fourth, with Maldonado surviving all his dramas to bring home 10 crucial points for Williams as Kamui Kobayashi made the best of a relatively quiet race to take sixth for Sauber. Massa was seventh, chased hard by Senna and Di Resta, as Ricciardo took the final point for Toro Rosso after overhauling team mate Jean-Eric Vergne. The Frenchman was also overtaken by Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher, whose chance of points was ended late on by a right-rear puncture.
Heikki Kovalainen had a strong run for Caterham to 13th ahead of Marussia’s Timo Glock, who just fended off Perez by two-tenths of a second by the flag, with Vitaly Petrov taking 16th for Caterham ahead of HRT survivor Pedro de la Rosa.
The result leaves Vettel 10 points ahead of Alonso, 255 to 245, with Raikkonen retaining third with 198. In the constructors’ stakes, Red Bull have 422 points from Ferrari on 340, McLaren on 318 and Lotus on 288.
|Drivers||Car No.||Chassis No.||Race Result / Fastest Lap|
|Michael Schumacher||7||F1 W03 / 03||P11 1:45.225|
|Nico Rosberg||8||F1 W03 / 07||DNF|
|Temperatures||Air: 29-30°C||Track: 29-34°C|
Unfortunately we have to say that again we suffered bad luck today. Due to the puncture I had to do another pit stop very late in the race which lost me a points scoring position. Of course this is part of the game and you cannot do anything about it but it was a real pity as we had reasonable pace and could have taken some points. Towards the end of the race I was hoping to close the gap to the top ten, and we were making good progress, but it just didn’t work out.
My car felt competitive today so it’s a real shame not to have finished the race and scored some points. Unfortunately that chance was gone after the first lap incident with Romain, after which I had to come into the pits for a new nose. Then there was the accident which put me out of the race. Narain told me that his steering broke and he needed to brake which I didn’t expect in that high-speed corner. There was no time for me to react, and I’m very thankful that we are both fine. I went to the medical centre for a precautionary check but everything is good. I will look forward now and hope for a better two races to end the season.
We had a reasonable car today so it’s disappointing not to have picked up any points. Nico’s front wing was damaged on the first lap which meant an early stop but he was going well after that. His accident on lap seven was fairly dramatic and we obviously need to have a look at what happened. Karthikeyan reported a problem with his car and certainly it looked very unusual. Thankfully both drivers were fine afterwards. Michael drove a strong race and we had a good strategy but unfortunately he picked up a puncture in the debris left from the various accidents which made the end of his race very difficult. The dice just aren’t falling for us at the moment but the positive is that the car was better this weekend so we just need to keep working hard.
Nico’s race lasted only seven laps today, and thankfully his accident ended without any serious consequences. Before that, his front wing change on the first lap after a collision with another car put him back to the back of the field. Michael was in seventh position when he picked up debris, and subsequently a puncture, during the safety car period which dropped him back to 11th place after his additional pit stop which is where he finished.