Rating the drivers for their performance at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel | Infiniti Red Bull Racing | 1st | 10/10
Vettel’s extraordinary run of success continues as he was untroubled in Abu Dhabi, eventually winning the race by half a minute. It was only the third time in history that a driver has won seven races on the bounce and at this rate, you’d have to be a brave person to bet against Vettel making it nine before the season concludes in three weeks’ time.
Mark Webber | Infiniti Red Bull Racing | 2nd | 8/10
It feels difficult to give praise to a driver comprehensively beaten by his team-mate, but Webber’s qualifying lap was surely one of the best of his career. Webber always goes well at circuits such as Monaco and Silverstone, but detests fiddly ones such as Yas Marina. In that session, he had a rare upper hand over Vettel. Sunday, however, was a different story.
Fernando Alonso | Scuderia Ferrari | 5th | 8/10
The Ferrari F138 had about as much traction as a cross channel ferry at the Yas Marina Circuit and such flaws in the car were horribly exposed in the final sector. A mistake by Alonso in the final sector cost him dearly in qualifying but he raced with typical gusto early on and shadowed team-mate Felipe Massa. His move on Jean-Eric Vergne exiting the pits was questionable, but the stewards deemed it to be just.
Felipe Massa | Scuderia Ferrari | 8th | 8/10
Ever since Ferrari confirmed that Massa would be leaving the team, the Brazilian has more than had the measure of Alonso. Massa’s pace early on in an ill-handling car was respectable and he executed a superb move on Lewis Hamilton. Eyebrows were raised when Ferrari pitted him just as Alonso was gaining, but more perplexingly was the team’s decision to fit prime tyres. Massa felt that this cost him a top five finish.
Jenson Button | Vodafone McLaren Mercedes | 12th | 4/10
Button has rarely excelled at the Yas Marina circuit but it was another utterly forgettable 2013 race for the one time champion. Button had shown promising pace during practice but his weekend began to fell apart when he was eliminated in Q2. It then truly fell apart when he had to pit early after creaming into the back of Paul di Resta on the first lap. Only two more to get through…
Sergio Pérez | Vodafone McLaren Mercedes | 9th | 7/10
Pérez upheld McLaren ‘pride’ – or what little there is of it left – by taking a battling ninth place. His pace early on was shocking, something he attributed to poor traction on his first set of primes. Even with running minimal downforce, the car wasn’t good in a straight line, leaving Pérez mired in traffic. He kept his head down, and did well to avoid an errant Pastor Maldonado, before nabbing Adrian Sutil on the final lap.
Kimi Räikkönen | Lotus | Ret | 4/10
Leave me alone I know what to oh. A year on from his memorable radio messages and victory, Räikkönen lasted just two corners before pulling over with a broken track rod. He was at the back through little fault of his own, but it was a clumsy move on a Caterham driver that he would have overtaken mere corners later. Even so, points would have always been a long shot.
Romain Grosjean | Lotus | 4th | 8/10
Fourth place represented a good result for Grosjean, but the disappointment at missing out on the podium places highlights his recent improvements. He made a good start but lost time behind one of the Force India drivers, compromising his strategy. By the time the traffic was negotiated, Nico Rosberg was too far up the road.
Nico Rosberg | Mercedes AMG Petronas | 2nd | 9/10
Rosberg shot up to second at the start and even briefly challenged Vettel for the lead of the race. From there, he only had a fleeting glimpse of the rear wing of that RB9 before it sped off into the distance. He did, however, get to see the rear wing of the other RB9 after Webber took advantage of the traffic to usurp Rosberg. He remained within sight of Webber, but never threatened him again.
Lewis Hamilton | Mercedes AMG Petronas | 7th| 5/10
Hamilton’s miserable run of races continues as he endured another trying drive on his way to seventh place. He was unable to capitalise on a good start and lost a position, before spending too much time trapped behind Esteban Gutiérrez. He also had problems with grip and he has now been six races without a podium. Rosberg now only 16 points behind.
Nico Hulkenberg | Sauber | 14th | 8/10
Hülkenberg’s pace from qualifying didn’t transform into race pace but he nonetheless hung on in the battle for a decent haul of points. But then his chances vaporised faster than a water droplet in the desert as he was released into the path of Pérez at his first stop. The impending drive through subsequently came, dropping him down to 14th.
Esteban Gutiérrez | Sauber | 13th | 4/10
Gutiérrez did an admirable job in defensive driving during the race, although at times he teetered close to overstepping the mark. But with qualifying so crucial at the Yas Marina circuit, he and Sauber dropped the ball in qualifying, condemning him to start at the lower end of the midfield. Points were always a long shot, and they failed to materialise.
Paul di Resta | Sahara Force India | 6th | 8/10
Di Resta must like deserts, for his two best results of the season have come in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. The Brit came into the weekend still under a little bit of pressure, but he executed a one stop strategy well to collect sixth place. He ran fifth late on but couldn’t prevent Alonso from steaming past.
Adrian Sutil | Sahara Force India | 10th | 6/10
Sutil also stopped just the once, but couldn’t make his prime tyres last long enough, thus leaving him to do 27 laps on a set of the options. He hung on to ninth, but slipped behind Pérez on the final lap. Nonetheless, it was another point and one that seemed improbably after a disastrous qualifying session.
Pastor Maldonado | Williams | 11th | 7/10
Maldonado must view Formula 1 circuits as being like the M25 (for those non-Brits, that’s London’s regularly jammed orbital motorway), for both in qualifying and the races in India and Abu Dhabi, he has bemoaned traffic scuppering his chances of a good result. That 11th was Williams’s equal second best result of 2013 highlights their downfall.
Valtteri Bottas | Williams | 15th | 7/10
Bottas’s hunt for a maiden point goes on but in spite of his lowly result, this was actually a strong race from the rookie. A slow getaway meant he was behind the Caterham drivers briefly but once they were out of the way, he was on the fringes of the top 10. Alas, the tyres hit the cliff and he had to make another stop.
Jean-Eric Vergne | Scuderia Toro Rosso | 17th | 6/10
‘Jev’ committed early to a one stop but switched to the prime tyres too early and was thus short on rubber during the final stint. He valiantly held on – and narrowly avoid an accident of massive proportions at the pit exit with Alonso – but eventually he lost all grip and had to pit for a second time.
Daniel Ricciardo | Scuderia Toro Rosso | 16th | 6/10
Red Bull is replacing one Australian with a knack for dodgy starts with another as Ricciardo got tangled in the midfield scrapes and emerged from it with little hope of points. Next year will tell whether it’s a trait with the STR8 or its driver. Hopefully for Ricciardo, it’s the former.
Charles Pic | Caterham | 19th | 6/10
Pic struggled with understeer all weekend and in the second stint he suffered with the balance of the CT03. Caterham ordered Pic to allow team-mate Giedo van der Garde through and while he took some convincing, he eventually relented.
Giedo van der Garde | Caterham | 18th | 8/10
Van der Garde is perhaps demonstrating the advantage of age and a lengthy junior career as he is emerging with the upper hand at Caterham. He didn’t make the best of starts but bounced back to finish comfortably clear of team-mate Pic and both Marussia racers.
Jules Bianchi | Marussia | 20th | 7/10
Bianchi admitted surprise following the race at Marussia’s performance (and judging by their comparative lack of pace, one would presume it was not a positive comment) as he struggled to 20th place. Nonetheless, it was the best result attainable considering the low rate of attrition.
Max Chilton | Marussia | 21st | 6/10
The Yas Marina Circuit: A magnificent spectacle but ye gads, what a terrible Grand Prix circuit considering the money thrown at the place. There’s been one good race – through luck and circumstance – but the remainder have been forgettable. As for Chilton, the only thing to say is he’s still finished every race.