Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – Lewis Hamilton from McLaren claimed his third win of the season with a dominating performance, while Formula One double world champion Sebastian Vettel suffered a flat tire and spun out on the opening lap to finish last in Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Vettel started on the pole and held an early advantage of five car lengths over Hamilton, but slid off the track heading into turn two when the right- rear tire on his Red Bull car was punctured. He limped back to the pits to complete only one lap. Vettel's amazing run in reliability this season came to an abrupt end with a 24th-place result.
"At the exit of the first corner everything seemed fine, but when I turned in, I tried to catch the car, but I couldn't do it any more and I spun off," Vettel told BBC Radio. "On the way back, I damaged the suspension so badly. I don't know what happened."
Vettel, with 11 wins so far this year, was attempting to tie Michael Schumacher's season-record of 13 victories, set in 2004. He had to win in Abu Dhabi and the November 27 season-finale in Brazil to match Schumacher's mark. Vettel won the first two Abu Dhabi GPs -- 2009 and '10.
Hamilton only relinquished the lead after his second pit stop during the 55- lap grand prix at the 3.451-mile (5.554-kilometer) Yas Marina Circuit. He claimed his 17th career F1 win,
"I feel fantastic, and I really think it was one of my best races," he said. "I said that to myself as I slowed down [on the cool down lap]. Being able to hold off some of the best drivers in the world throughout the whole race is something that is very tough to do. I was just looking after the tires and managing the gap. The team did a fantastic job with the pit stops. I'm ecstatic."
Hamilton crossed the finish line 8.4 seconds ahead of Fernando Alonso from Ferrari. Alonso took over the lead when Hamilton pitted for the final time. He had a slower stop time than Hamilton, which cost him an opportunity to win.
"It was a fantastic race for me as well," Alonso said. "It was a very good start and first lap, fighting with Jenson [Button]. We found ourselves second and then fought throughout the race. On the last pit stop, we stayed longer than [Hamilton]. We were close, but we had some traffic in the pit entry."
Button from McLaren finished third. He had issues with his KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) throughout the race.
"I think by lap 13 or 14 I didn't have any KERS basically," Button said. "I had to fend off [Mark] Webber and [Felipe] Massa, which is quite interesting without KERS. I eventually got it back, but it lasted for two laps at a time, and then I had to keep re-setting it."
Webber from Red Bull took the fourth spot, while Massa drove his Ferrari to a fifth-place finish. Webber had to pit for a third time on the final lap for mandatory hard tires.
Mercedes GP drivers Nico Rosberg and Schumacher finished sixth and seventh, respectively. Force India teammates Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta were eighth and ninth, while Kamui Kobayashi from Sauber completed the top-10.
Vettel has accumulated 374 points so far, compared to 255 points for Button and 245 for Alonso. Webber trails Alonso by 12 markers, and Hamilton is six behind Webber.