Brawn, Yas Marina, 2009

Vettel leads a Red Bull one-two in finale

2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race review

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Sebastian Vettel took advantage of problems for Lewis Hamilton to win his fourth Grand Prix of 2009.

It was a one-two for Red Bull as Mark Webber kept Jenson Button at bay to take second place in an exciting end to an otherwise predictable race.

With KERS and a clear run to the first corner Lewis Hamilton was never in much danger of losing the lead. But even on the first lap there were tell-tales signs of the problem that was going to end his race – he braked too deep into the turn six chicane, allowing Vettel to briefly close up, but KERS kept him safe on the straight.

Webber took up third despite making contact with Rubens Barrichello at the first turn. The impact knocked part of the Brawn’s wing off, and while he got used to the car’s impaired handling Button seized the opportunity to squeeze past and take fourth.

Given his pace in practice and qualifying Hamilton was expected to tear off into the distance. But it didn’t happen – he edged a few tenths away from Vettel here and there, but on lap 11 he out-braked himself again and lost almost all of his small lead.

It was clear he was not going to hold onto the lead after the first round of pit stops but he hardly made it any further than that. His braking problems were traced to the right-rear of the car and Hamilton was told to park up – the first time an F1 car had let him down in 52 races.

Vettel’s pit stop passed without drama – but only just. Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari had been pit-bound with a gearbox problem and accidentally swung into Vettel’s pit box. The Red Bull mechanics hurried him out as Vettel arrived. Alguersuari, meanwhile, failed to complete the next lap and retired.

Webber had pitted before Vettel, so after their pit stops Vettel had a healthy lead of more than six seconds.

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After the early pit stops Kamui Kobayashi rose to third place and the highest placed single-stopper. That was partly thanks to smart driving on the first lap keeping Kimi Raikkonen boxed in, preventing the Ferrari driver from being able to exploit his KERS boost.

Alonso’s signed off from Renault with 14th
Button came out in front of Kobayashi after the Brawn had been serviced, and the pair resumed their battle from Interagos. But this time it was the lighter-fuelled Kobayashi who seized the advantage, passing Button down the inside at turn eight.

That delay cost Button in the dying stages of the race. Once the second round of pit stops had been dispensed with he found himself quickly catching Webber, who was struggling in the braking zones. Button only had the last lap to launch an attack and Webber repelled his advances in brilliant fashion.

Their duel meant Vettel enjoyed an untroubled run to victory, which he took by over 17 seconds. Barrichello finished fourth behind his team mate and one place ahead of Nick Heidfeld in the final race for BMW. Heidfeld had worried about his team mate’s pace during practice but Robert Kubica slipped down the order after spinning while trying to pass Sebastien Buemi.

Kobayashi finished a remarkable sixth which could serve as a boost to the chances of Toyota approving a budget for the team later this month. Jarno Trulli backed him up in seventh, and Buemi scored the final point.

Kubica finished tenth behind Nico Rosberg, with Heikki Kovalainen behind him in 11th having started 18th. Raikkonen’s inability to make progress early on meant he finished hislast race for Ferrari in 12th.

His replacement, Fernando Alonso, ended his last race for Renault in 14th behind Kazuki Nakajima.

Vitantonio Liuzzi beat team mate Adrian Sutil in his final race, the Italian finishing 15th ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella. Romain Grosjean was the last classified runner in 18th.

F1 now heads into the off-season with many unanswered questions about next year’s line-up. The likes of Kobayashi and Liuzzi made cases for why their teams should retain them for 2010, but Grosjean is surely among those worrying he might not get another crack next year.

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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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91 comments on “Vettel leads a Red Bull one-two in finale”

  1. Wonderful Wonderful Blog! Absolute pleasure being part of this! Hope fanatics carry on with the same enthusiasm as they did during the season. Once again Keith, you are my hero. Superb job!

    1. Mp4 you have said it all my dear fanatic friend

    2. Well said buddy. Keith should get a raft of awards for this site. Intelligent, insightful and well balanced. No idea how he avoids posting nonsense after one too many glasses of red on a Saturday night, but he doesn’t!

      And the live blog chat is brilliant. Yards ahead of the rest, Keith’s site is simply the best F1 fan site on the internet. Thank you.

      1. Couldn’t agree more, Keith and the guest writers have done a fab job.

        1. HounslowBusGarage
          1st November 2009, 20:24


      2. Well said!

    3. F1 Fanatic is a haven for us F1 nerds- where else could we discuss tyre temperatures, FIA politics and Herman Tilke? Thanks for providing it!

      1. well said… Keep it up Keith…roll on 2010

  2. 15 drivers finished on the lead lap. Is that a record?

    1. surely- NO!

    2. I think it could be- there are so few retirements these days, and the cars are all similar speeds. I miss the days of Super Aguri’s and Minardi’s being 6 seconds off the pace, and getting lapped all the time

      1. Many times this season 15, also Germany had 17. I bet Germany is not only one. You should follow f1 dude.

        1. No, I don’t mean the whole number of finishers, I mean number of drivers that were not lapped. I do follow F1 very closely.

          1. I’ve checked the other races and never realised how many drivers finished on the lead lap. Racing really is much closer these days.

  3. But Vettel was already leading the race when Lewis stopped… so I think it’s not 100% true that Vettel “took advantage of problems for LH”.

    1. i agree with u

      1. Hamiltons problems ment he couldn’t pull away from Vettle. He clearly had the pace over the weekend to be doing just that.

    2. Or “porblems”. I think Keith’s still excited :D

      1. Sorry! :-( Fixed it

    3. I think Keith is right!

      1. But Vettel and also Webber came back ahead of Hamilton. He would arrive just in third.

        1. But Vettel and also Webber came back ahead of Hamilton. He would arrive just in third.

          I cant get your point, but Lewis and Martin post race statement shows that Keith is right:


          “After three or four laps, it became clear that there was a problem with my right-rear brake pad, so I couldn’t open up the gap back to Sebastian and Mark [Webber].


          “Today, though, after just five laps, his right rear brake pad began to show signs of an unusual level of wear – a rogue pad, we think – and as a result we had to stop him for safety reasons. That was an enormous pity, because up to that point he’d shown blistering pace every day.”

    4. Scribe is right there. Lewis’s (spelling) brake problems were slowing him down from the get go…

  4. Got to love 2 guys dueling it out on the last few laps, sidways and clean…you could tell they both had a ball, with grins from ear to ear.

  5. Now who would have believed me if I told you after the Turkish gp that Jenson would end up with less than 100 points!! Just goes to show how badly he fell apart in the second half. When was the last time that we’ve had a Champion scoring less than 100 points with the current points format(hamilton Excluded)? Schumi 2003? Ended up with 93 if I am correct.

    I think this is the first time since 95-96 that the season ending & season opening race will be geographically the closest. Adelaide & Melbourne weren’t too far apart.

    1. It’s much more exciting when the points are spread out amongst drivers instead of them all going to one person.

    2. Now who would have believed me if I told you after the Turkish gp that Jenson would end up with less than 100 points!! Just goes to show how badly he fell apart in the second half.

      Good point, McLaren Project.

      Last year we have all the anti-Hamilton brigade jumping to accuse the two contenders of mediocrity because of points score in the championship. Lewis scored more than Jenson this year and now we can see how last year was a terrific season and a great fight between Lewis and Felipe.


      1 Lewis Hamilton 98 points
      2 Felipe Massa 97 points


      1 Jenson Button 95 points
      2 Sebastian Vettel 84 points

    3. The same should happen next year. We’ll have Alonso-Massa at Ferrari, Hamilton-(Kimi/Button/Heidfeld) at McLaren. Moreover, Brawn GP and Red Bull may be well again.

      2010 will be a great season!

      1. might just point out to Becken that there was one more race last year.

        This being last year Button would have closed out with two races to go.

        1. And don’t forget, Button got HALF points for the rain out in Singapore, otherwise he would have broken 100. Stop the Button bashing. If he spread his wins out over the season, you’d be calling him KIMI. Btw, how many points did Kimi have when he won by one point?

          1. I meant Malaysia. oops

          2. But how would Jenson had fared with five penalisations against him like the ones (some fair, others not so) Lewis endured in2008?

          3. @qazuhb

            I think that is irrelevant. Jenson didn’t get any penalties because he kept out of trouble.

  6. Great Blog, going to look forward to next year, depressed too! hope Groj gets a drive wih one of the new teams but only time will tell.

    hope Jenson can retain his title next year!!!!!

    1. He doesn’t have a hope at al of doing that

      1. If Brawn can pull it out the bag i dont see why not, hes a good driver and worthy of it in my opinion

    2. Grosjeans only way back in to F1 will be to go back to GP2 and smash it.

  7. If cars can’t overtake on a circuit with a 1200m long straight then it’s difficult to deny that its the aerodynamics which are causing the problems. I find it concerning that with the aero regulations staying the same next season, the racing will be just as processional.

    Recession or no recession, the teams really need to find a few million pounds to set up a better, well funded Overtaking Working Group (really it should Bernie and CVC paying but that ain’t gonna happen), and hopefully by 2011 they’ll come up with something that works. I’m not holding my breath, though- F1 is never that sensible

    1. they should definitely reconsider ground effect, and how it can be implemented to preserve modern-day safety

    2. That’s hit the nail on the head, Ned. A lot of people think that the racing is going to be better next year and that because they can’t pass in the pits, they’ll ‘have to’ pass each other on track, when the more likely result is that they just won’t pass each other at all.

      It’s pretty obvious what’s going on. It’s the aero. How many times this season have we seen a car gaining on the one in front my two to three seconds, only for the time to drop when it gets stuck in the dirty air behind it?

    3. Agree mostly, but a smidge harsh there buddy. The Button and Webber show over the last 2 laps demonstrated that you could overtake here, but Webber was just damn wily. Jenson drove through the turbulent air and got alongside Webber several times.

      Often hear the argument that F1 cars are just so efficent in acceleration and braking that the window of opportunity for passing is much narrower than in other forms of racing. Very true. But then would we want steel brakes and dumbed down engines in F1 to allow for this? F1 is the pinnicle of car design. It needs to be tough to overtake I think.

    4. Who exactly was supposed to overtake? if you are 3 seconds behind and lapping slower than the guy in front, the straight could be a 100 miles long, it won’t help you. I don’t remember any driver being stuck behind a much slower car today. Well, maybe Button, but Webber wasn’t exactly waving him through and Button was running out of laps.

      1. Agreed. People keep dreaming that regulation changes is going to introduce masses of overtaking.

        Changing the regs might make overtaking easier again (for as long as that lasts), but you still need the opportunity for overtaking. The latter is just not there.

        1. You’re right, but that’s not what I’ve been saying ;)

          The race might have been a bit boring, but this time the track was not to blame. If everyone qualifies on race fuel and then dashes off for 2-3 sprints, seperated only by fuel stops, you won’t get masses of overtaking. You could have run this race with aero regs that would make overtaking easy and it wouldn’t have been much different (Only maybe that Button might have passed Webber easily).
          You just can’t help some races.

          A few weeks ago people complained right here because I said that the Suzuka race was extremely boring? Was this one better or worse???

          1. Suzuka was pretty boring. However I think that next year when people are forced to overtake for position, the teams are going to go straight to their designers with that problem.

            Once you’ve got that bunch on your side then problems start to fade slightly

          2. I agree the track was the problem here. A harpin before the straight was the issue. We see over taking when there is a high speed corner or two before a straight rather than a straight drag race.

          3. You’re right, but that’s not what I’ve been saying

            Well in what respect is your reply different then?

            AFAIK I simply repeated your claim that there usually just isn’t much opportunity for overtaking.

  8. Did anyone hear Brundle at the end of the forum saying happy christmas just before it cut away to the credits? I nearly wet myself!

    1. Yes! Well he won’t be doing f1 til after christmas…

  9. Not too boring a race as anticipated. Very impressed with Kobayashi again, him passing Button (albeit in a lighter car) the highlight of the race for me. :)
    Massively looking forward to next season, it’s going to be a long winter!

  10. On the Formula One Live Timing, when Alonso made his pitstop, they wrote: “Probably, his last stop for Renault”

    It is almost as if they are expecting some controversy happening next year, and he will yet again return to Renault. :D :D :D

    Good stuff from Kobayashi, he and Sato should be the only 2 Japanese drivers on the grid, no one else.

    1. Never say never again.

      Alonso, Fernando Alonso

    2. Or, more likely, it meant he might have to make another stop in the race…??


  11. Koby to Toyota next year I have heard:)

    1. So, KOV & KOB in toyota next year?

      How was that?

      Kobalainen and Kovayasi?

      Kovayainen and Kobalasy?

      KOV&KOB sounds better!

    2. They need to put Koby and and Kovy in the Toyota, and Glo and Gro (Glock and Grosjean) in another team.

      Then they should turn Toro Rosso back into the all Sebastian superteam that it used to be, and make sure Nico Rosberg and Nico Hulkenburg are team mates somewhere, with Nick Heidfeld as 3rd driver, to create the Nico allstars!

      1. Kub Kob Kov on the time sheets its like that word game where you change one letter each time…

        1. Not as bad as (briefly) in 2006 where we had Montoya, Monteiro and Montagny all sharing the same track. I think they got around it by referring to them respectively as MOY, MON and MOT. But it was certainly confusing if you weren’t paying attention!

          1. You can add GRO, GLO, ALO, and ALG into the game

  12. I love how Red Bull was competative this year. It made things more exciting,although it would have been even better if McLaren and Ferrari had been at their best from the start of the year.
    Next Year I believe will be more competative with four teams challenging, not just two, like this year. Brawn, McLaren, Ferrari, and Red Bull if the get a good engine deal will likely all be fighting it out next year.
    I just hope Red Bull don’t go with those junky Cosworths, I really want them to get a Ferrari or Merc engine.

  13. Hamilton probably would be second, because Webber lost performance after your first pit.

    1. If he had struggled on with the brake problem, that kept him from running away from Vettel during the first stint, you mean?

  14. I love this talk in the press conference:

    SV: I hear you are getting married.

    JB: Are you proposing?

    SV: I heard you will get married.

    JB: You know, they write great things in the press. Thank you for that one Seb, but I am going to enjoy this as we often look too far into the future and I want to just enjoy this moment and then I will look to the future after that.

  15. Shout out to Nick Heidfeld. Beat Kubica again and finished ahead of him in the championship. Beating another “superstar” and still probably won’t get a drive next year

    1. I think it highly unlikely that he won’t drive for a Formula 1 team next year

    2. If neither he nor Raikkonen end up at McLaren it’ll be a travesty.

    3. I’m sure he’ll get a drive somewhere. Even if he doesn’t get the place at McLaren, there’s plenty of new teams to go to.

    4. Yeah!! Quick Nick has done it again! I think he must be one of the most tactically smart drivers around. He’s not afraid to take risks (last year, when he got rain tires before anyone else and went to the 3rd place) and he has very very little DNF’s. This race too, you hardly see him and all of a sudden he comes in 5th and scores some points. Very good indeed! Just his qualifying could be better I guess. I’m sure he’ll get a drive somewhere. It would indeed be a travesty if that weren’t the case!

      1. He deserves a fairly good seat though and definately a win

    5. You beat me to it Tommy, Quick Nick is so underated.

      He’s also the best dancer in F1:

      1. He definately beats Schuey and Felipe

  16. lewis Hamilton 2010 Champion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. no chance… vettel or Alonso for 2010 WDC because Lewis wont have KERS for the long straights to help him out.

      Also Lewis cant maintain tyres for love nor money so he wont win anything in 2010 if he cant stop driving it around like a Go-kart. Tyre ware will be the biggest factor next year and it doesnt matter how fast he can go in his Mclaren if he has to pit every 10 laps for tyres because he cant stop locking his brakes.

      1. You might have missed that Hamilton had a brake problem. actually even retired because of it …

        Vettel couldn’t win the WDC in the fastest car with only Button and Barrichello as his opponents.

        Lets assume that next year McLaren and Ferrari will have good cars again on the same level as Red Bull (if not better). How on earth is Vettel going to beat Hamilton, Raikkonen/Heidfeld, Alonso and Massa?

        1. Well the Red Bull wasn’t the fastest car in the first 9 races or so. Remember, there was this entire battle over the double diffusers and the KERS system. The RBR had neither in the first few races where the Brawn did. Besides, the RBR was struggling with the pace on high temperature tracks as well. Sure, he made a few mistakes Alonso probably wouldn’t have made but he’s not been in F1 for long and he’s impressive in every team so far. Winning in a Toro Rosso and now winning 4 races for RBR (a team that didn’t win one race before he arrived) and finishing second in the championship in his first year with the new team. More importantly, the team as a whole is looking very strong. Adrian Newey is probably the best designer and Vettel is one of the best drivers and apparently he can communicate pretty well with the team. All in all, he made some mistakes (especially in the beginning of the season) and had some bad luck with the engines at times and you’re right if you’re saying he shouldn’t make those mistakes again if he wants to beat Alonso and Hamilton next year but there is no question about wether he can do it, the question is when.

          1. Well the Red Bull wasn’t the fastest car in the first 9 races or so.

            China? Bahrein? Turkey? Silverstone? Germany?

            That’s 5 out of the first 9 where they were flat out fastest!

            Besides in Australia and Malaysia they were the first ones behind Brawn and in Spain and Monaco they (potentially) had the same pace as the Brawns.

        2. I think you missed that Hamilton does lock his brakes up………….alot infact, so it’s not my problem that the “Ex” world champion Lewis Hamilton cant use his brakes properly.

          And i think you also missed Vettel didnt have a double decker diffuser at the start thats how Button and Rubens got so far infront.

          I also think you missed jenson and Rubens had no rivals for the first 7 races. unlike when Webber and Vettel started to take points away and catch up in the second half of the season, all the cars improved alot making it 5x harder to score points.

          And lets assume Red bull get the mercedes engine in 2010, Red bull would still have a better package then mclaren. And whats stopping Red Bull making the best car next year again? Vettel is a the next star of Formula 1 and the Hamilton fans are scared of his ability.

          Vettel’s first year in a decent car and he gets 2nd, the same as Hamilton. Vettel even had terrible luck this year and made bad choices “Aus missed 8-6 points” “Monaco could of got another 4-3 points” “Valencia not his fault 2 engine blow ups Renaults fault another 4-6 points lost”

          Vettel has been unlucky this year and Brawn with the diffuser loop hole were lucky not to get points deducted. vettel will be ready to fight in 2010 for real now, the field is level no KERS no advantages so bring it.

          And i tell you what Massa, Alonso and Rosberg have got better chances then Hamilton next year since they can maintain their tyres and not destroy their brakes within 5 laps as today proved by Lewis.

          Lewis Hamilton has become a joke now, he wont get in the top 5 in 2010 because he doesn’t have the experience with Heavy fuel loads and he always is a light, fast front runner. and dont bother saying he can overtake other cars, he could only overtake this year because he had the KERS advantage helping him out 90% of the time.

          Hamilton was lucky to get 5th this year since Massa would of beat him if he didn’t get injured. Because Ferrari would of kept on improving the car if Massa was still around, so Kimi would of beat Lewis to 6th, and your mate “Lewser Flopilton” would of been 7th.

          Maybe lewis should think going to NASCAR since they dont have to brake as hard around the corners……….

          So whats the matter, scared that your boy Hamilton is being outclassed by a better driver that’s younger?

          1. There’s some sour grapes in this post :D

            We will see next year who is the better driver. Just as we will see who has the best car.

            McLaren run a very stiff setup, you quite often see lewis’ and heikki’s inside wheel lock up because it is barely touching the ground, it hardly does any damage to the tyres. If the wheels were locked up by bad braking, both wheels would be locked up and the driver would overshoot the apex.

            Last year, the problems Lewis had with his tyres wearing fast were caused by the car being really bad on its tyres not the driver. You will have noticed this year that the red bull is quite hard on its tyres, which is why they have been lacking pace sometimes late in their stints. They seem to have solved this problem somewhat throughout the season.

            As for Brawn being luck for not having points deducted, I really don’t get your point – this defuser was proved legal. The teams that decided not to use it challenged it because they didn’t understand this rule properly.

            Also the red bull car was very fast even without the double diffuser, in fact they won their first race this season without the double diffuser.

            You should maybe think about the facts before making this kind of statement.

            Obviously you are a Vettel fan, let me be the first to say he is a great young driver, with huge potential. He has however yet to demonstrate his ability to overtake and he fairly finished second this year beating Barrichello, who had a better car for most of the season, so well done to him for that. He made too many mistakes this season, and we haven’t seen the best of him, so just like Lewis Hamilton in his first season, he finished second after taking too many risks and making too many mistakes. However Lewis only lost out by 1 point so maybe tha makes Lewis a better driver – not only was it his first season in a fast car – it was his first season in F1, whereas Vettel is in his third season.

            I think there is alot more to come from Vettel, but maybe a driver like Alonso, Raikkonen, Massa or Hamilton would have won the championship in that car?

            We can all speculate!

          2. I also think you missed jenson and Rubens had no rivals for the first 7 races. unlike when Webber and Vettel started to take points away and catch up in the second half of the season, all the cars improved alot making it 5x harder to score points.

            Same reply to you. China? Bahrein? Turkey? Silverstone? Germany?

            That’s 5 out of the first 9 where they were flat out fastest! Vettel made poor starts/no overtaking/driving errors so he lost several of those races to Button.

            Besides in Australia and Malaysia the red Bulls were the first ones behind Brawn and in Spain and Monaco they (potentially) had the same pace as the Brawns.

            Yet Vettel spun off in Malaysia, was unable to overtake again in Spain, messed up the tyres and eventually blundered into a wall in Monaco.

            He still did drive the fastest car and should really have been ahead or very close behind Button.

            Vettel had trouble beating Webber. I doubt he can match up to Alonso or Hamilton in an equal car.

            Vettel is very fast though. If he can one day learn to crash less and overtake cars he would indeed become a championship contender (in a normal season) too.

          3. lewis does not know how to use his brakes? is this your first f1 season?

            maybe you should watch the 07′ italian gp, and his move on kimi, after you watch that i bet you wont be able to say “cant use his brakes”, it show he has huge natural brake feel ability,

            you cant win a championship with out knowing how to use your brakes.

      2. And what did Vettel do to his tyres in monaco?

        1. and in Melbourne?

    2. Probably a little early for that. Not even Lewis knows what his car next year will drive like.

      Fact is:
      Poor car, no chance.
      Good car, chance.
      Good car, good driver, good chance.

      The best drivers are in the best teams because they will provide income in terms of sponsor and WCC payment returns. Simply, they will maximise the potential of the car.

      Does the car win races? Without a good driver – no (sorry, but Heikki is a good example).

      Can a good driver win in a mediocre car? No – Alonso this year.

      So F1 needs great drivers in great cars. Some cars are better. Some drivers are better. That makes it a sport, and that is why we are here.

      1. Midfeild cars can occasionaly win, the thing is this years Renault is awful. Alonso is basically making it a midfielder.

        Buttons first win was in a very average car.

  17. Mussolini's Pet Cat
    1st November 2009, 19:38

    A superb location, shame (as expected) the race was rather dull. Only Button & Webber’s tussle at the end made it interesting…..

  18. i thought that it looked a fantastic circuit. yes the race was not all that great but it was much better than alot of races this year and that includes Silverstone which i went to and given the choice i would have rather have been watching in the warm desert evening than a cold silverstone.

    1. well said…

      opps how dare you say that about the fabled Silverstone airport, that looks as if it’s been falling apart since when ever I started watching f1.

      Silverstone race was very boring but then again so was Barcelona, and Valencia…the worst being Monza.
      3 of the worst races were on ‘classic’ traditionally used tracks.

      This track has potential and did allow for overtaking and I dont know if I was watching a different race than everyone else, but I saw a more passing here than some of the other tracks used this year.

      Thanks to Brawn for the DDD and the utter non-sense that caused not only to teams following the spirit of the rules and the other that were told by the same body of officials that it wasn’t legal(FIA) then was after all cars were designed…and all the dirty air it created.

      Lets not forget all the Brawn and co fans and how they were labeled them geniousness…for totally destroying all the possibilities of better racing that they alone stole from us.

      RBR should feel cheated as they not only had a car that could compete with out the DDD but then also killed the field with a DDD baring their own mistakes.

  19. That battle between Webber & Button really highlighted the race,what a way to end the season.

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