Updated with reaction at 17.30
LEWIS HAMILTON CAPITALISED on some misfortune for World Champion Sebastian Vettel to claim victory in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
The pole sitting-German suffered a puncture on the very first lap of the race, allowing Hamilton race clear of Fernando Alonso and lead the event almost entirely from start to finish.
It was the Briton’s third win of the season and comes after a series of difficult incidents that have blighted the former champion’s 2011 season. However, he had been on form all weekend and was unlucky to have been narrowly beaten to pole by Vettel 24 hours earlier.
Alonso was second for Ferrari – after getting by Jenson Button with a great move on the first lap – and the latter claimed the final spot of the podium despite encountering problems with his KERS during the race itself and having to defend his position from both Mark Webber and Felipe Massa.
Webber recovered from a poor pit stop to finish fourth, with Massa fifth in the second Ferrari. Nico Rosberg withheld an early challenge from Mercedes team-mate Michael Schumacher to bring his car home sixth, one position ahead of his compatriot. Another German, in the form of Force India’s Adrian Sutil, claimed the final race point.
“I feel fantastic,” Hamilton said, speaking in the post-race press conference (See BBC). “It was one of my best races. To hold off one of the best drivers in the world is very tough to do.
“I’m just happy. This is great. It’s early days but this is definitely the start of something. We’ve got another great race ahead of us in Brazil. I’ve just got to keep my mind on the game.”
World Champion Vettel was disappointed with his first non-finish since the Korean Grand Prix last year, saying: “There wasn’t anything we could have done better really this weekend; we just need to look at what had caused the puncture.
“I had a good start and I was very happy with the car up until that point. To lose the race there, so early on, it hurts for sure. There wasn’t much we could do, so after that I took the opportunity to learn a little bit on the pit wall.”