Hamilton gets back to the top in the Abu Dhabi twilight

Posted on November 13, 2011

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Lewis Hamilton today seized on a rare failure for Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull to claim victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton stormed into the sunset to win in Abu Dhabi. Credit: McLaren.com

The McLaren driver was gifted the lead on the second corner of the first lap after Vettel’s Red Bull appeared to suffer a rear wheel puncture with no warning, throwing the previously invincible RB7 towards the barriers.

And the 2008 world champion spent the rest of the afternoon in complete control. Hamilton dominated like we all know he can but in a manner which has so often been lacking this year. Getting the lead through a stroke of luck was one thing but there was also no sign of the errors we have seen in recent months. Maybe it was simply talking about his unhappiness this year, maybe it was simply the luck which reinspired Hamilton. Whatever: it was a great drive today.

His message on the radio after seizing victory underlined the return of the Hamilton of old. He sounded excited to be in his car for the first time in months – more so even than when he last won in Germany. He rushed to his team after getting out of his car. It’s good to see him happy in the sport again.

Also impressive was second place man Fernando Alonso. He kept Hamilton honest and, while he was never a threat to the Briton, there is little doubt that he outperformed his Ferrari. The Prancing Horse is by some distance the third fastest car and getting it on the podium at all has to be an achievement.

It was a poor day all around for the world champions. After retiring Vettel early on, Red Bull messed up Mark Webber’s first stop, costing him at least six seconds, and then ran an odd three stop strategy which forced the Australian into a final lap stop. Red Bull’s run couldn’t last forever.

Overall, it was not a thriller. Abu Dhabi is a spectacular cathedral to Formula One but the track itself is dull. Outside of the DRS zones it is almost impossible to overtake. And having two DRS zones close together highlighted the pointlessness of the system as too often we saw cars swap places twice on a single lap today.

I’ve complained about it before but I think it is clearer than ever DRS is an experiment which has not worked. It statistically has created more overtakes but so many them are soft, artificial events it removes the spectacle. Overtaking is difficult without the DRS but that’s OK if it is possible for the great drivers. We know the best drivers can make inspiring passes if they spot a gap – but DRS is making the whole field lazy.

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Posted in: Formula One, Race