Sebastian Vettel expressed his delight at recording his fourth victory of the season in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
With the help of a longer first stint, Vettel was able to leapfrog the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton and once the Brit retired with brake issues, the German was home and dry.
Mark Webber also recorded a strong performance with second place. However the Australian had to defend his position late on from a hard charging Jenson Button after experiencing problems when running the option tyre
Sebastian Vettel – 1st: “That was a fantastic race. We had a very good start, it wasn’t good enough to overtake Lewis, but I was surprised I was so close to him. Then, when Lewis was on the long straight, he pushed a button and disappeared ahead, but I was able to stay close. We knew we were a little bit heavier and we were always able to catch him up, especially in the last sector. The car was a dream today. There was a lot of pressure, I nearly went a bit wide in the pit lane entrance during my first stop and then there was the scary exit through the tunnel, but I was on the limit and it was enough to get past Lewis.
“Unfortunately he then had to retire, but up to that point it was a fantastic race with him. After that I had a little bit of a cushion to Mark and Jenson behind and I was able to pace myself, but the car was fantastic until the end. It worked brilliantly on both tyre compounds and it was a pleasure to sit in the car this evening. To sum up the season, what can I say? I would say up and down, we are currently very strong and have just gained our fourth one-two finish, so congratulations to the team. They have been pushing a lot, working very hard back in the factory. It’s a shame now that the season ends, as we are on a roll! It’s just perfect to finish the season in this way on such a high.”
Mark Webber – 2nd: “I made a pretty good start and had a bit of a look on the outside of Sebastian, but I knew I had to get back on the inside and get a good exit, as it was a long run down to Turn five. My car got hit quite hard on the left rear after the first corner and I was worried about a puncture. My race engineer, Ciaron, told me the tyre had enough pressure and I was relieved. It looked like Lewis was struggling a little bit in the first few laps and Sebastian and I were able to get a bit closer to him than we expected. Things then started to stabilise and I was pretty happy on the prime tyres. Sebastian was a bit quicker today in the second two race stints, especially the last one. I didn’t have much of a feeling on the option tyre and it was the same for me on Friday. I was quite slow on that and preferred the stability of the prime.
“Towards the end of the race, Jenson was able to close the gap to me and I thought ‘this is going to be tight’! We knew we had a slight top-speed advantage, but not much and I had to make sure I was accurate with my braking points. We had a good clean fight on the limit and the battle was a credit to how Jenson’s driven all year. I want to congratulate the team on what they have achieved and thank them for their patience with me at the start of the year when I was coming back from my accident. It’s been very enjoyable driving alongside Sebastian this year, Renault has given us a fantastic engine and overall Red Bull can be incredibly proud of what they have done. It’s been my best season to date; we’ve had 16 podiums together; it’s very good.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal: “That was the most brilliant way to finish the season, by gaining our fourth one-two finish and our sixth win. Both our drivers were supreme today. Sebastian drove an immaculate race and we managed to jump Lewis through good strategy, good pace and good work with the pit crew. Mark also had enough fuel to get Lewis at the next pit-stop – however, that came sooner than expected when Lewis retired.
“Thereafter both guys were really strong on the prime tyre. Mark lost quite a bit of time with some difficult traffic just before his final stop and then he was struggling a little bit for traction on the option tyre, so Jenson was able to close in. It was a really exciting last lap of the year and Mark did a brilliant job to hang on to second place, so congratulations to the whole team it’s been an excellent year. Thank you to Red Bull, to Mr Mateschitz for all his support, to our engine partner Renault and all the people who have worked so hard in Milton Keynes this year for this fantastic result. We’ve learned a great deal this year and we’ll come back stronger in 2010.”
Fabrice Lom, Renault, Principal Engineer Track Support: “That’s it, the season is over and it’s time to reflect on what we have achieved. Firstly, I think we’ve had a very good season: the team is second in the Championship, ahead of teams with far more experience than ourselves and we have twice as many points as McLaren or Ferrari. This is a big achievement and I would like to thank Red Bull for the excellent car they made. I also would like to thank the drivers who did a fantastic job, both in and out of the car. I mention the work they did out of the car, because both drivers stayed team members when we had difficult technical and political times with our engine.
“Our group team effort paid off and we only used the permitted number of engines this year. Sebastian didn’t need to use any extra engines, which is a true achievement and he even scored two more wins after he had no fresh engines left. Thank you also to all the guys in Viry and Aubigny for the good engines they have provided us. And finally, thanks to my Renault team who have worked for Red Bull at the races and tests. They did a fantastic job and they can be proud of what we have achieved this year, I am proud of them.”