Vettel wins under the lights of Abu Dhabi with two pit stops
Red Bull driver and newly-crowned world champion Sebastian Vettel has won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, starting on the P Zero Yellow soft compound, before running two stints on the P Zero White medium.
The majority of drivers started the race on the soft tyre. The exceptions were McLaren’s Jenson Button, the Williams of Valtteri Bottas, Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez, Force India’s Adrian Sutil and Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen – who started at the back of the grid because of a technical infringement.
Vettel took the lead from the start and made his first pit stop on lap 14, changing from the soft to the medium compound, before rejoining in the lead. Force India’s Paul Di Resta ran the longest opening stint on the soft tyre, 20 laps, while his team mate Sutil ran the longest first stint on the mediums, stopping on lap 28. This strategy allowed Di Resta and Sutil to finish sixth and 10th respectively (from 11th and 17th on the grid).
Vettel stopped again on lap 37 for more mediums without losing the lead, eventually winning from his team mate Mark Webber by half a minute: Red Bull’s third one-two of the season and the team’s 100th podium. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso adopted a different strategy by running a 11-lap final stint on the soft tyre, which enabled him to overtake cars at the end and finish fifth. McLaren’s Jenson Button completed 44 laps on the medium tyre and would have completed a one-stop strategy, had he not been forced into the pits early on with front wing damage.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “First of all, congratulations to Sebastian Vettel for winning this race. A variety of strategies were deployed, with good levels of wear and degradation on both compounds, which meant that drivers were able to complete long opening stints even on the soft tyre. Sebastian drove a masterful race to win without ever losing the lead, making the most of the fact that he had not used the medium compound at all in qualifying, leaving him with two fresh sets of mediums today. As usual we saw a high degree of track evolution and falling track temperatures over the course of the race, although perhaps not to the extent we actually anticipated.”
Fastest times of the day by compound:
|First||ALO – 1.43.434||VET – 1.43.893||N/A||N/A|
|Second||BOT – 1.44.351||GRO – 1.44.301||N/A||N/A|
|Third||SUT – 1.45.609||WEB – 1.44.364||N/A||N/A|
Longest stint of the race:
|Medium||44 laps||J Button|
|Soft||28 laps||A Sutil|
Our prediction for the 55-lap Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was one stop, although as it turned out most drivers stopped twice. Abu Dhabi is one of the hardest races of the year to predict a strategy for, because of the falling track temperatures over the course of the grand prix, which have a direct effect on tyre wear and degradation.
The two-stop strategy we predicted was: start on the soft, change to the medium on lap nine, and a final stint on the medium from lap 32. Vettel followed the expected pattern but went longer, stopping on laps 14 and 37.