Sebastian Vettel’s world title party continued in Abu Dhabi as the newly-crowned 2013 champion secured his seventh successive grand prix victory.
Despite losing out on pole position to Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber, Vettel stormed into the lead before the first corner and the four-time champion never looked like relinquishing top spot as he cantered to a lights-to-flag success.
Webber ultimately finished the race in second, with Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg third. As Vettel, and the fast-starting Rosberg, passed Webber, Kimi Raikkonen was enduring a miserable end to a weekend he will want to forget in a hurry.
The Lotus driver had qualified fifth, only to be excluded from the session after his car failed a scrutineering test. That put last year’s race winner at the back of the grid and, in his attempt to make up places early on, he caught the side of a Caterham into the first corner and was soon on his way home after suffering suspension damage.
Vettel built up a commanding lead and by the time he came in to change to the prime tyre, he had enough of a buffer to Felipe Massa’s Ferrari that he emerged back into first place. There he stayed for yet another victory as he led home teammate Webber by over 30 seconds, with the Australian unable to turn pole position in to his first win of the season.
Vettel’s win meant he joined seven-time champion Michael Schumacher in recording seven successive race wins in a calendar year, with Alberto Ascari holding the overall record for consecutive victories, having managed nine — split between the 1952 and 1953 seasons.
Vettel even celebrated with more ‘donuts’ out on the circuit, despite the team receiving a fine from motor sport’s world governing body FIA for a similar move to mark his successful world title defence in India.
Rosberg, who said on Saturday his aim was to be the best of the rest behind the Red Bulls, achieved just that as he guided his Mercedes home to the final step on the podium. His teammate Lewis Hamilton finished seventh.
The sole remaining Lotus of Romain Grosjean took fourth as he finished outside the podium places for the first time since Korea. Ferrari had looked like having an average race, with Fernando Alonso and Massa fighting each other for a large period.
Di Resta sixth
But the decision to put Alonso onto soft tyres for his final stint proved to be a masterstoke as the two-time world champion passed the British pair of Hamilton and Paul Di Resta to take fifth place, with Di Resta one-stopping to seal sixth for Force India. Teammate Adrian Sutil finished 10th.