Red Bull driver and newly-crowned world champion Sebastian Vettel won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Sunday race, starting on the P Zero Yellow soft compound, before running two stints on the P Zero White medium.
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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 the lead. Force India’s Paul Di Resta ran the longest opening stint on the soft tyre, 20 laps, while his teammate 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 teammate 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 an 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. Various strategies were deployed, with good levels of wear and degradation on both compounds, which meant that drivers could complete long opening stints even on the soft tyre. Sebastian drove a masterful race to win without losing the lead, making the most of the fact that he had not used the medium compound 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 race, although perhaps not to the extent we anticipated.