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GP Week : Issue 174
behind the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo. “I had a moment with the Toro Rosso,” Vettel explained after the race. “I don’t know what he did. He was braking his car down and I was surprised, caught out. Maybe I should have paid more attention, but yeah, I went to the right and I wasn’t very lucky, there was the DRS board, which I took head on and then I thought ‘well, now the front is fucked at least, so we’ve got to change it’. We did it in the worst possible moment, during the Safety Car, when all the cars were already queued up and we lost everything.” After a smooth restart, the next race- changing incident came about on lap 20, when Hamilton retired from the lead with a total loss of power. It was the second time this season the Briton lost a race through no fault of his own from the front. Raikkonen inherited the lead, and commanded the race from the front for the remaining 35 laps, staying ahead even through the pit stops, and only looking marginally under threat in the closing stages, when Alonso was giving it everything he had to get past the Lotus and claim the win for himself. Meanwhile, Vettel was continuing his climb up from the back of the pack, aided unwittingly by his team-mate, who did a remarkable job of taking out the men in front one by one. First Webber clipped Maldonado on lap 23 before spinning off track. Neither man was forced to retire from the race, but both lost positions on track. The sleeping Button briefly awoke and took advantage of the chaos to slip past Maldonado on the following lap as the Venezuelan tried to recover lost ground. By lap 25, Vettel was up in P8, having passed Michael Schumacher with remarkable ease. One lap later, Webber was at it again, this time clipping the Ferrari of Felipe Massa mid duel. The Australian driver then cut the chicane in his second attempt at a pass, scaring the Brazilian driver into a smoke-heavy spin that saw neither driver suffer significant damage, but which destroyed the momentum of both their races. Webber was the star of all the mid-race incidents, and it was a lap 39 collision with Grosjean that brought out the second Safety Car – and finally brought about an end to the Australian’s race, and the demolition derby he was causing with every lap. After a poor start and a worse middle, Webber’s race came to an abrupt end when he attempted to slip past a group of cars approaching the Sauber of Sergio Perez, which was returning to the track after a spin into the run-off. The Red Bull ran into the pack of cars – literally – and the ensuing carnage meant that a second Safety Car was little more than an inevitability. After the lap 43 restart, the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finally settled down into a semblance of calm. Vettel continued to work his way up through what little remained of the pack, and spent the better part of ten laps chasing down Button for the final place on the podium. On lap 52, the defending world champion finally made the move stick, nipping past the McLaren and strengthening his claim on the drivers’ title in the process. Ahead, Alonso was giving it all he’d got in an attempt to close up on Raikkonen. The Spanish driver did a noble job eating away at the Finn’s lead, chipping the margin down by at least two-tenths a lap, but by the penultimate turn of the circuit it was clear that he would not be able to pass. With a clear eye on the drivers’ standings, the Ferrari driver cooled his fire and sailed home for a comfortable – and safe – second place, secure in the knowledge that he had reduced Vettel’s lead in the drivers’ championship standings. F1 >>> U.A.E 24 GPWEEK.com // 24 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: Don't forget The Flying Lap live every week on http://smibs.tv CLICK HERE