It started off as planned, with Hamilton getting the perfect start. However, Vettel was on his tail round the first turn and never let a gap of more than 1.8 seconds open up. Hamilton needed at least a 5 second gap as he was due to pit 2 laps earlier than Vettel. A mistake by Hamilton cost him 0.8 seconds and Vettel ended up being only 1.3 seconds behind when Hamilton pitted. At this point it seemed entirely possible that 3rd place Weber might leapfrog Hamilton after the pit stops too.
Vettel pitted at lap 18 and as expected came out in first place. Two laps later and the McLaren crew were seen making a space in the garage for one of the cars and soon enough Hamilton came in, his race over and a suspected right rear brake the problem. For the man who lit up free practice and qualifying this was a huge disappointment. Before this race Hamilton had earned more points than anyone else in the second half of the season and looked set to add at least 8 points to that total in Abu Dhabi.
With Hamilton out the hopes of McLaren were in the hands of probable departing driver Heikki Kovalainen, who managed to leapfrog Kimi Raikkonen after the pits stops and come home in 11th. That added no points to either his own tally or the team total.
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With the 2009 season now over, Lewis Hamilton finished in 5th place with 49 points, just one point ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, while Heikki Kovalianen finished in 12th place with 22 points. McLaren finished the season 3rd in the constructors championship, one point ahead of Ferrari, with 71 points.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was a largely uninteresting race with the most excitement coming in the final few laps as Jenson Button tried in vain to get past second place Mark Weber. Weber’s Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel took home the victory for his 4th race win of the season as he secured 2nd place behind 2009 champion Jenson Button.
I’ll be doing a proper season review in the coming week but this was somewhat of an anti-climax with Hamilton retiring and little race action on offer. For McLaren the next big step is who they sign up as the 2nd driver to partner Lewis Hamilton. Kimi Raikkonen is the favourite, Nick Heidfeld has been mentioned and Jenson Button is surely only fantasy booking?