• Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Vettel crushes rivals with dominant victory

ESPN Staff
November 3, 2013
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Sebastian Vettel dominated the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to secure his seventh consecutive victory with a performance in a completely different league to the rest of the field, including Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber in second place.

Vettel won by over 30 seconds after picking off Webber at the first corner and bolting into the setting sun. He was not only significantly quicker, but was able to eke life from his tyres for longer, allowing him to build a big lead early in the race. Once he was 30 seconds clear he levelled his pace with Webber, who was keeping an eye on Nico Rosberg in third rather than trying to resurrect any hopes of a victory. Just like he did in India, Vettel celebrated in style be performing a series of doughnuts which the stewards may launch an investigation in to.

Romain Grosjean managed to haul his Lotus up to fourth, but despite running longer on his two-stop strategy than the two cars in front could not make use of fresher tyres at the end to finish on the podium. Fernando Alonso finished fifth under investigation for straying off the track as he passed Jean-Eric Vergne after returning from his second pit stop. The move was important for Alonso, who rejoined on soft tyres in seventh and attacked until the end, but the stewards decided that Vergne had not left him enough space and opted against any penalty.

Paul di Resta drove a very accomplished race to sixth place on a one-stop strategy, holding off Lewis Hamilton who spent most of his evening losing time in traffic. Felipe Massa crossed the line eighth after a strong start to the race waned towards the end. Sergio Perez pulled off a last-lap overtaking manoeuvre on the one-stopping Adrian Sutil to take ninth place.

Vettel muscled his way past Webber at the start with Rosberg also taking advantage of the slow-starting Red Bull. Webber got back ahead of Rosberg at the first pit stop and was then able to keep a decent gap to the Mercedes for the rest of the race. Grosjean, who made a good start from sixth on the grid, opted for a slightly different strategy, pitting at the same time as Webber but then going three laps longer on his second stint. However, it was not enough to alter his track position and he finished 1.1s behind Rosberg.

Alonso's alternative strategy did pay off, however, as he pitted first on lap 16 and then went to lap 44 when he took on a set of soft tyres. With his rivals on mediums he was able to attack, leapfrogging Massa in the pit stop itself and rejoining alongside Vergne. The nature of the part of the track where pit lane feeds back onto the circuit meant he had to run wide, but in doing so gained the position on the Toro Rosso. Race control referred the move to the stewards, but with the laps ticking down the investigation was postponed until after the race.

Alonso's strategy was in stark contrast to Massa's, who had looked stronger than his team-mate in the opening stint but stuck with the more conventional strategy of soft, medium, medium and did not have the pace to progress at the end. As a result he finished behind Hamilton and di Resta, the latter making use of his car's tyre advantage to make just one pit stop.

But no one was on the same level of Vettel, who underlined his dominance by equalling Michael Schumacher's record of seven successive victories in a single season. If he can win the next two races he will equal the record of nine held by Alberto Ascari over two seasons and was quite clearly emotional about the prospect in the post-race press conference.

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