Abu Dhabi: Vettel’s 7-in-a-row
Surprise! Sebastian Vettel has won again. Can you believe it?! Well, yes. Vettel ties Michael Schumacher with a record of 7 grand prix victories in a row, and if winning the championship a fourth straight time last week wasn’t enough, this feat should surely cement Vettel as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time.
With Mark Webber on pole, things looked good for the Aussie to nab his 10th career win, but Vettel and Nico Rosberg quickly stymied that thought. Webber’s start was average, but Rosberg quickly shot up alongside Vettel and pushed the #2 Red Bull to third. Kimi Raikkonen had been DQ’ed from yesterday’s qualifying session due to a floppy floorboard (say that 10 times Kimi) and was forced to start behind Jules Bianchi at the end of the grid. By Turn 1 he had disposed of Max Chilton and Bianchi, but was properly offed when Charles Pic turned into him and broke the Lotus‘ steering. Webber finished second, with Rosberg third and making a case for himself as the superstar that Mercedes desire.
Typical Vettel clinic by the end of lap 1; he worked out his 2-second lead and would hold it for the remainder of the race. On lap 14 he dove into the pits in front of Felipe Massa by 26 seconds, then reemerged still infront of the Brazilian. Massa looked compelling at the halfway point as he lead Fernando Alonso, but a slow pit stop onto the wrong compound would push Massa down to 8th place. Alonso nearly batted off Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso at the pit outlet which caused some scrutiny by FIA officials. The frenchman pushed over on the racing line, leaving a faster (but not by much) Ferrari with no where to go but off the track. Alonso would finish fifth, behind a very impressive Romain Grosjean.
The rest of the top 10 featured a few unfamiliar faces. Force India made a big turnaround today after getting both drivers into the points. Paul di Resta drove confidently on a forgiving set of Pirelli’s to 6th position, Adrian Sutil on a similar run to 10th. Sergio Perez snuck his McLaren into 9th, but was nearly creamed into the pitlane wall by Sauber. The young ace Nico Hulkenberg was released right infront of Perez, but was later rewarded a drive through penalty for the incident. This marks the first unimpressive drive from Hulkenberg since Sauber reconfigured their wing setup.
Speaking of unimpressive drives, Lewis Hamilton pulled his Mercedes into 7th position, having floundered for much of the race. The car had seen quite a few repairs done since yesterday’s incident at the end of qualifying. Turns out the rear wishbone broke which lead to Mercedes replacing the entire rear suspension… and subsequently the brake discs, calipers and pads all around. Not enough to get HAM up to his teammate on the podium.
So in two weeks F1 comes State-side once again. Wish I could be there at the Circuit of the Americas to watch, but for once I’ll get to sleep in on a Sunday morning. Cheers.