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November 2, 2009

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Vettel wins inaugural Abu Dhabi race

GERMANY'S Sebastian Vettel won Formula One's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the first race to start in daylight and end at night, in a Red Bull one-two finish in the United Arab Emirates yesterday.

The 22-year-old German beat Australian Mark Webber by a comfortable 17.8 seconds under the floodlights at the new Yas Marina circuit for his fourth win of the season to make sure of second place overall in the championship.

Britain's Jenson Button, who clinched the title in the previous Brazilian Grand Prix for his championship-winning Brawn GP team, rounded out his season with third place after hunting down Webber and chasing him nose-to-tail in the closing laps.

A mere 0.6 of a second separated the two cars at the checkered flag.

It was Button's first appearance on the podium since Italy last month after a season that started with him winning six of the first seven races.

McLaren's outgoing world champion Lewis Hamilton had led from pole position but the Briton's hopes of becoming the first winner in Abu Dhabi vanished after 20 laps when he retired with a brake problem.

"There was a problem with the brakes, I couldn't stop the car," Hamilton told the BBC. "I was locking and locking and locking and it was harder than ever to drive the car."

"(Hamilton) had to retire and up to then it was a great race," said Vettel. "After that I had a cushion to Mark and Jenson behind and was able to pace myself."

Finished fourth

Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, likely to move from Brawn to Williams for next year, finished fourth with Germany's Nick Heidfeld fifth in BMW-Sauber's last race before the German manufacturer quits.

Japanese stand-in Kamui Kobayashi, replacing the injured German Timo Glock, scored his first points in F1 with sixth place for Toyota ahead of veteran Italian teammate Jarno Trulli in seventh.

After just two races, Kobayashi could also claim to be his country's top driver with Williams' Toyota-backed driver Kazuki Nakajima ending the season with a dismal tally of no points from 17 starts.

Swiss rookie Sebastien Buemi, a Bahrain resident for much of the year, took the final point for Toro Rosso in eighth place.

The race, against the stunning backdrop of the most lavish circuit in Formula One, was low on thrills or incidents other than Button's determined chase of Webber and Hamilton's unexpected retirement after threatening to run away with victory.

Hamilton was one of only two cars not to finish, along with Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari after an embarrassing pit stop mishap. His crew was not out for his stop, and he mistakenly stopped at the waiting Red Bull pit crew - which has similar colors. They waved him on and he was forced to retire soon after.


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