The old lady bellows in Abu Dhabi

Published on November 3rd, 2009

As the flag went down on Red Bull’s 1-2 finish at the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix held at the brand spanking, spit-shine new Yas Marina Circuit, the 2009 season had its curtain call that would see the Formula 1 traveling circus fold up its big-top until 2010 comes around.

Sebastian Vettel pushed Aussie teammate Mark Webber down under to second to give Red Bull their fourth 1-2 finish of the season, the same as constructor’s champ; Brawn. Webber barely fended off already-crowned driver’s champ Jenson Button who claimed the last podium spot and was followed by teammate Rubens Barrichello.


Picking up fifth was Nick Heidfield of Williams while the man of the match title would surely go to Kuemi Kobayashi as he finished sixth for Toyota in only his second Formula 1 race.

“The car was fantastic and was working brilliantly on both tire compounds.

“Some of the season was up and down. During the second half we have been very strong; fourth 1–2 for Red Bull racing, so congratulations to the team. As we can see the car is getting quicker. It is shame that now the season ends,” summed up Vettel on his race, that saw him take second in the driver’s championship.


It was almost incident-free start with the exception of Webber going karate on Barrichello’s right front wing end plate on the first lap. Fortunately though, the missing plate wasn’t a hindrance to the Brazilian as he swept to fourth.

Webber, head of the Drivers Safety Committee, saw nothing wrong from behind the wheel of his Red Bull, “I had a pretty good launch I got a bit of a lock on the outside of Seb [Sebastian Vettel] but the main game was trying to get back on the inside to get a clean exit because I knew it was a long run down to turn Five. I got hit quite hard in the left rear at the first corner, I was worried about a puncture.”


Starting off from pole, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton had his work cut out. Utilizing KERS on the long back straight, the Brit managed to open a 1.7-second lead but the charging Bulls sliced it down to half by lap 10. As he was losing time overall, Hamilton had to give up the crown to Vettel during the first pit stop window.

The culprit for his poor performance was identified as a rear hind brake problem as called out by his pit radio on lap 20. A few laps later and he was in the pits for his first mechanical DNF of the season.

The season might have climaxed earlier in the season but drama was ever present in the most comical of sorts.


Jaime Alguersauri did his best jester impersonation as he coolly drove past his Toro Rosso pits during the first round of stops and into the Red Bull pit just as Vettel dove in. An encore was avoided as Alguersauri realized his error and pulled away in time to not hold up Vettel. A delay such as that would have surely killed Vettel’s race hopes and possibly his second standing in the overall driver’s championship.

Perhaps fittingly, Alguersauri ran out of fuel on the track.

There was no holding Vettel back once he had the reigns, consistently putting in fastest-laps to open up a huge lead.

Button came to live on the final 10 laps or so as he gnawed away at Webber’s lead but was unable to nudge ahead even with some daring final-lap attempts.

“I couldn’t make the move stick. I was very excited about that battle but Mark is always a very difficult person to overtake. We were clean, but on the edge, so it was perfect. I was disappointed not to get second place, but I really enjoyed the fight,” said Button.


The sole remaining McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen crawled over the finish line in eleventh ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in his last mount of the Prancing Horse.

It might have been a new circuit but it didn’t show on the track as the drivers pushed to the limits to close the season with a nail-biting battle.

After Brawn’s dominating early-season performance many expected it to be a one-horse race but post Turkey, the stale recipe had a little dash of jalapeno sauce thrown in with Red Bull and McLaren fighting back with revised machines.

Ferrari had a shambolic season and decided to give up the ghost and focus on next season’s car.

Now even though the season is over the games haven’t stopped and the musical chairs of drivers and teams has hit top gear with rumours spreading like the plague around the paddock.

Famed engine-builders Cosworth will be back on the grid, supposedly providing engines to the majority of the teams. Sauber, having bought over the BMW team, now has the pink slip to supposedly the most powerful engine on the grid but is left to be seen if they make it to Bahrain come March 14 2010.

text: Dinesh Appavu  pix: Formula1


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