• Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Post-race driver rundown

Laurence Edmondson November 14, 2010

Sebastian Vettel - 1st
He became the sport's youngest world champion with a faultless drive in Abu Dhabi. He was brave at the start to hold off Hamilton into turn one and then kept his head through a safety car, a heavy tyre graining period and the pit stops. It was a performance worthy of a champion and, although he relied on Webber and Alonso making strategic errors, he managed his tyres and his pace to perfection.

Lewis Hamilton - 2nd
It was a frustrating race for Hamilton and he was deprived of the chance to have a real go at Vettel. The timing of his pit stop was crucial as McLaren tried to coax Vettel into a fight behind Kubica's Renault, but the Red Bull was just too fast. He couldn't pass Kubica and nearly wrecked his own race by flat-spotting his tyres behind the Renault. In the end he did well to hold the tyres together and stay ahead of the late-stopping Button.

Jenson Button - 3rd
He got a perfect start and put the first nail in the coffin of Alonso's championship charge by overtaking him into turn one. From that point onwards he made tyre preservation his primary goal and his soft tyres lasted much longer than anyone thought possible. It didn't pay off though and he probably stayed out a bit too long, rejoining well behind Hamilton. But it was a good race in what has been a solid if not spectacular championship defence.

Nico Rosberg - 4th
He made the most of his team-mate Schumacher's first lap accident by pitting under the safety car and taking on new tyres. The decision turned out to be inspired and he jumped Webber, Alonso, Massa and Barrichello when they pitted. Ultimately Mercedes quick thinking - which prompted Renault to do the same with Petrov - cost Alonso the title, but that will be of little concern to Rosberg who rounded off a solid season with a good result.

Robert Kubica - 5th
It was a huge disappointment to qualify outside the top ten on Saturday, but in the end it worked to his favour and allowed him to start on the hard tyres and rocket up the order. However, it wasn't all down to strategy; he overtook Kobayashi and then held off Hamilton for lap after lap in a brilliant display of race craft. It was a good performance but his mind has been set on 2011 for some time and the hope that Renault can deliver a car to fight with the front runners all season long.

Vitaly Petrov - 6th
Like Rosberg he benefitted from pitting under the safety car, and from that point onwards put in one of his best performances of the season. To hold off Fernando Alonso for the best part of 40 laps was impressive, but considering how much was at stake he did remarkably well to keep his head. Alonso had one clear opportunity to pass and Petrov defended it well. After the race he said: "I'm here to race. I hope when he cools down he will realise that."

Fernando Alonso - 7th
His whole championship hinged on his pit stop strategy today and Ferrari got it horribly wrong. The big question is whether his tyres were in as bad a condition as he made out, or if Ferrari was just reacting to Webber. Ultimately they underestimated the threat posed by Rosberg and the Renaults and it proved very costly. He then pushed incredibly hard behind Petrov but couldn't find a way past as the Renault driver took full advantage of his incredibly efficient F-duct on the straights.

Mark Webber - 8th
It was ironic that, after all the pre-race talk of Vettel helping Webber to take the title, it was Webber who helped Vettel. After ruining his tyres in the early laps he was forced to pit early and that triggered a response from Alonso and Ferrari. It turned out to be a terrible decision for both drivers and dropped Alonso out of the fourth place he needed to hold off Vettel in the standings. For Webber it will be neither here nor there. He'll know that he lost the title after qualifying fifth on Saturday.

Jaime Alguersuari - 9th
Another driver who benefited from pitting under the safety car - a decision that saw him ahead of Webber before the order came from above to let him through. From 17th on the grid it was an impressive result and one that rounds off a good second season.

Felipe Massa - 10th
It was a miserable result to round off a miserable season for Massa. Ferrari used him as a guinea pig to see whether it could cover Webber by pitting early. Unfortunately for them he didn't come out ahead of the Red Bull and that triggered the decision to pit Alonso. Had he come out ahead of Webber he could have controlled the Red Bull's pace and the team may not have felt the need to pit Alonso.

Nick Heidfeld - 11th
He just avoided the first lap incident between Schumacher and Liuzzi and then pitted relatively early to find some free space. The strategy worked and he gained several positions but it wasn't enough to put him in the points.

Tonio Liuzzi's Force India mounts Michael Schumacher's Mercedes © Sutton Images
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Rubens Barrichello - 12th Strategy cost him a good result and he lost six positions over the course of the race. He made a good overtaking manoeuvre on Sutil's Force India into turn four, but apart from that it was a fairly dull and disappointing race.

Adrian Sutil - 13th He needed to score points to boost Force India's chances of finishing sixth in the constructors' race but the car wasn't quick enough. He went long on hard tyres and was running as high as fifth before he stopped for softs. Strategically it was worth the risk but it didn't pay off.

Kamui Kobayashi - 14th
Another case of a botched strategy. After a good start, Kobayashi tried to go long on the soft tyres but lost out as the rubber degraded underneath him and his lap times dropped. He looked up for a fight but, mercifully, didn't attempt to block Hamilton and disrupt the championship race when the leaders came past.

Sebastien Buemi - 15th
He made up five places at the start but lost all of them to drivers on better strategies. The Toro Rosso's lack of straight-line speed meant he didn't have the car underneath him to fight back.

Nico Hulkenberg - 16th
He was one of the few drivers who went long on hard tyres at the start of the race but failed to make up positions. It was mainly due to being stuck in traffic at the wrong time, although he was lacking pace all weekend compared to team-mate Barrichello.

Heikki Kovalainen - 17th
His race went as smoothly as possible and he actually finished a lap up on the rest of the new-team drivers. The result was more proof, if it was needed, that Lotus has been the class act among the new teams this year.

Lucas di Grassi - 18th
He pitted under the safety car but didn't really have the pace to make it pay off. He made no major mistakes but, with team-mate Glock retiring, it was hard to measure how good his performance was.

Bruno Senna - 19th
He finished 3.3 seconds behind the Virgin of di Grassi, which by HRT's standards this year can be considered an achievement. He was also ahead of his highly-rated team-mate Klien in both qualifying and the race.

Christian Klien - 20th
He complained of a couple of handling problems, especially on heavy fuel, and that would account for the 13.4 second gap to team-mate Senna at the chequered flag. It was his best finish from his three races this season.

Jarno Trulli - 21st - Rear wing failure
Both wings failed during the race and he was happy to get out of the car unscathed. The rear wing failure on the back straight was particularly concerning and he did well to keep the car under control with minimal downforce.

Timo Glock - DNF - Gearbox
A gearbox failure brought an end to his race after the rear of the car overheated. He was keeping pace with the Lotuses at one stage, but the result rather summed up Virgin's first season.

Michael Schumacher - DNF - Accident
He was very lucky to escape from his head-on collision with Liuzzi unharmed. The Force India mounted his Mercedes and the front wing came perilously close to his helmet. A replay of his spin showed that he lost control all by himself, which would usually class as a rookie error.

Tonio Liuzzi - DNF - Accident
His perennial bad luck was on display again as he came through the first sector to be met with Schumacher's Mercedes facing the wrong way. He simply couldn't avoid the accident as he had cars to either side blocking him in. He attempted to hit the brakes but it wasn't enough.

Laurence Edmondson is an assistant editor on ESPNF1

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Laurence Edmondson is deputy editor of ESPNF1 Laurence Edmondson grew up on a Sunday afternoon diet of Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell and first stepped in the paddock as a Bridgestone competition finalist in 2005. He worked for ITV-F1 after graduating from university and has been ESPNF1's deputy editor since 2010