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Vettel victorious as Hamilton hits problems

Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull Racing team will go down in history as the first World Championship race-winners in Abu Dhabi after a dominant 1-2 finish in Sunday’s 2009 FORMULA 1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Vettel led team-mate Mark Webber home by 17.8 seconds as Red Bull scored their fourth 1-2 win of the year – with some help from Lewis Hamilton’s brakes.

The main drama in the 55-lap encounter came in the final 10 laps as new World Champion Jenson Button’s Brawn-Mercedes hunted down Webber at the rate of over half a second a lap, but a fine defensive drive by the Australian in the last two laps kept the Englishman at bay.

Button’s Brawn team-mate Rubens Barrichello was fourth ahead of Nick Heidfeld, scoring a fine points finish in his BMW Sauber team’s 70th and final Grand Prix.

One of the other stars of the night was Kamui Kobayashi: in only his second Grand Prix start as a stand-in for Timo Glock at Toyota, the Japanese driver scored his maiden points with a fighting sixth place – and staked his claim for a full-time drive in 2010 as he came home one place ahead of Toyota’s season star Jarno Trulli.

Eighth and last of the points-scorers was young Swiss Sebastien Buemi.

Hamilton’s McLaren-Mercedes led imperiously from pole position for the opening 20 laps of the 55-lap race, but a warning on his radio that his right rear brake might be playing up proved absolutely accurate as the former World Champion was forced into retirement just one lap later.

“I couldn’t stop the car, I was locking, locking, locking,” said Hamilton, a two-time race-winner in 2009. “It was harder than ever to drive the car. It’s a shame as the car felt so good the last couple of days.”

As the sun set on Hamilton’s hopes of a winning finish to the year, the lights turned the 5.554-km Yas Marina Circuit into the real star of the show as F1 settled into its first-ever day-night race.

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