2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

The 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (officially the 2009 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix)[1] was the seventeenth and final Formula One motor race of the 2009 Formula One season. It took place on 1 November 2009 at the 5.554 kilometres (3.451 mi) Hermann Tilke-designed[2] Yas Marina Circuit. It was the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and also the first ever day-night Grand Prix (starting at 17:00, with sunset at 17:43 on raceday). The race was won by Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull, with polesitter Lewis Hamilton (driving for McLaren) having retired due to a brake failure.[3] This would be the last Formula One race for Kazuki Nakajima and Giancarlo Fisichella and the Brawn GP, BMW Sauber and Toyota teams (respectively).

2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Race 17 of 17 in the 2009 Formula One World Championship
Circuit Yas-Island.svg
Race details
Date 1 November 2009
Official name 2009 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Location Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Course Yas Marina Circuit
Course length 5.554 km (3.451 mi)
Distance 55 laps, 305.470 km (189.810 mi)
Weather Dry
Pole position
Driver McLaren-Mercedes
Time 1:40.948
Fastest lap
Driver Germany Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
Time 1:40.279 on lap 54
First Red Bull-Renault
Second Red Bull-Renault
Third Brawn-Mercedes
Lap leaders



Jenson Button had secured the title of World Champion in Brazil, but only two points separated the second-placed and third-placed Sebastian Vettel and Rubens Barrichello. Brawn GP was declared Constructors' Champion in Brazil with Red Bull second, but third position overall was still undecided between McLaren and Ferrari.

This would be the last race in Formula One for Nico Rosberg at Williams and for Robert Kubica (replacing Alonso at Renault in 2010) at BMW Sauber. This would be the last race for Nick Heidfeld until the 2010 Singapore Grand Prix.

As in Brazil, Kamui Kobayashi continued to race for Toyota as Timo Glock was ruled out after he was injured in a crash at the Japanese Grand Prix during qualifying.[4]


Nico Rosberg in pit lane.

In keeping with FIA regulations that state the practice and qualifying sessions must be run under the same conditions as the race, the practice sessions were run in the late afternoon and early evening so as to simulate the transition between day and night.

The sessions were dominated by the McLaren team, with Lewis Hamilton spending most of his time on or near the very top of the timing sheets. He set the early standard in the first session, producing a fastest lap of 1:43.939.[5] Teammate Heikki Kovalainen struggled initially, but eventually set the fastest time of the second session – 1:41.307, two-tenths of a second faster than teammate Hamilton.[6] – and retained his pace in the third.

At Ferrari, both Kimi Räikkönen and Giancarlo Fisichella struggled, spending most of the weekend at the bottom of the timing sheets, though a pair of last-minute one-lap charges by Räikkönen saved the team from total embarrassment. Fisichella was less than impressed with Yas Marina's underground pit exit, claiming it was both very difficult and dangerous,[7] despite it remaining incident-free.

Robert Kubica stopped on the circuit halfway through the second practice session with a suspected engine failure. The Pole, down to the last of his eight racing engines, was running with a used engine at the time, thus preventing the need for him to take a grid penalty. Nick Heidfeld spent most of the sessions at the tail end – at one point unable to explain why he was over two seconds slower than Kubica – until his final runs in the last session, which elevated him into the top ten.

Like Ferrari, Renault struggled all weekend. Unlike Ferrari, neither Fernando Alonso or Romain Grosjean were able to do much about it, simply unable to find speed around the circuit. Alonso, however commented that the Yas Marina circuit was enjoyable, stating that there was always something to do.[7]

Kamui Kobayashi continued to impress in what was only his second outing for Toyota, frequently out-pacing teammate Jarno Trulli, and at one point setting the third-fastest lap time. However, Kobayashi's program for the weekend consisted mostly of doing dummy qualifying runs, while Trulli was focusing on pace over an extended period, meaning the difference between the two drivers was not as great as it appeared to be.

The Toro Rosso drivers continued their trend of being the very first out in the early sessions. Sébastien Buemi demonstrated that his pace in Japan and Brazil was no one-off, and he spent most of the practice sessions near the top of the timing sheets and was the first person to break the 1:40.000 barrier in the third practice session. Jaime Alguersuari was less receptive to the circuit than others and was over-shadowed by his teammate until a hydraulics problem sidelined him for the duration of the third session.

Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel also had strong sessions, hinting at a pace that would eventually show itself in qualifying. After Hamilton set a time a second faster than anyone else in the third session, it was Vettel who led the rest of the field in making up the gap, however both drivers would finish outside the top ten.

Williams' Nico Rosberg echoed Alonso's sentiments that he liked the circuit, stating that every corner was 'unique'.[7] However, both he and teammate Kazuki Nakajima had an inconsistent weekend, alternating between the bottom end of the top ten and running as low as fifteenth.

Force India's Adrian Sutil commented that he preferred Abu Dhabi over Marina Bay in Singapore as it was easier to see around the Yas Marina circuit.[7] After being limited by brake problems early in the first session, he eventually took to the circuit. Like teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi, his occasional bursts of speed were soon overrun by the other drivers.

Jenson Button spent most of first practice exchanging blows with Hamilton, responding to each of Hamilton's fastest laps with one of his own. The trend continued into the third session with Button prevailing, setting a 1:40.625,[8] two-thousandths of a second quicker than Hamilton. Rubens Barrichello had a relatively anonymous string of practice sessions, finishing within the top ten on each occasion, but never quite having the pace of his teammate.


Jenson Button qualified fifth for his first race as World Champion-designate.

Lewis Hamilton was the fastest in the first qualifying session, becoming the first man to set a lap time of less than 1:40.000 with a 1:39.873. Fellow Briton Jenson Button was the only other driver who came close, with his best lap time half a second slower than Hamilton. For the third race of the season – after Luca Badoer in Valencia and Spa – a Ferrari qualified in twentieth and last place, with Giancarlo Fisichella finishing one second behind Kimi Räikkönen and two behind Hamilton. Joining Fisichella in an early elimination were the Force Indias of Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi and the Renaults of Fernando Alonso and Romain Grosjean after Jaime Alguersuari relegated Alonso to fifteenth place in the final few minutes of the first session.

Hamilton once again topped the second session with another lap time under 1:40.000, though this time Sebastian Vettel was able to break the same barrier as well, the only other person to do so all weekend. By the time the second session had come around, night was falling over the circuit, and with it the track temperature dropped. Despite the cars carrying less fuel in the second session, the difference in lap times between Q1 and Q2 was noticeably smaller than at other races, with many of the drivers struggling to improve upon their first-session times. Heikki Kovalainen came to a halt on the circuit with a gearbox failure, which would afford him a five-place penalty for the race. Elsewhere, the second Ferrari of Kimi Räikkönen was eliminated, as were Jaime Alguersuari and Kazuki Nakajima. Kamui Kobayashi was also eliminated after qualifying twelfth, just one place behind his starting position in Brazil.

The third session was unique in that once the drivers left the pits, they stayed out for the duration; in previous races, they have gone out once at the start and once at the end, or simply waited until the final few minutes to set a time. This was attributed to the tyres, as it took several laps for the drivers to get either compound up to a working temperature. Lewis Hamilton remained in the pits while the other nine took to the circuit. The lap times started falling as the drivers did several laps, with Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli exchanging lap times before Hamilton emerged and took the provisional pole. Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber both went faster, only for Hamilton to secure a front-row berth on his final lap with a 1:40.948 and leaving Vettel and Webber second and third respectively. Rubens Barrichello slotted into fourth, while Button edged out Trulli for fifth. The BMW Saubers of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld took seventh and eighth, followed by the Williams of Nico Rosberg in his final race for the Grove-based team, and Sébastien Buemi taking tenth on his twenty-first birthday.


Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber gave Red Bull their fourth one-two finish of the season, with Vettel finishing seventeen seconds ahead of his teammate.

Lewis Hamilton led the race from the start, but did not open a singularly impressive lead as was expected, and Vettel stayed within a few seconds of him during the early phase of the race. There was contact between Rubens Barrichello and Webber in the first corner, with Barrichello losing a part of his front wing, which hurt his pace to begin with. The first lap was otherwise clean.

Kamui Kobayashi scored points in his second Formula One race.

Vettel leap-frogged Hamilton during the first round of stops before the McLaren pit wall reported that Hamilton had a problem with his right-rear brake. Hamilton was forced to retire the car after eighteen laps, as it was unsafe to continue given that the circuit contained three very large braking areas. It was briefly suggested that the problem may have been a faulty data logger that was showing a problem, but McLaren was still obliged to retire the car. The only other retirement of the race was Jaime Alguersuari during the pit stops. His in-lap had been slow and he made the mistake of pulling up in the Red Bull pit instead of the Toro Rosso garages. With Sebastian Vettel due in that lap, Red Bull were forced to send him back out. Alguersuari later claimed that when he was ready for the stop, his team were not. The Red Bull and Toro Rosso garages were located next to one another, with the pit crews in similar uniforms. Alguersuari retired when he returned to the circuit.

From there, the race remained relatively incident-free. Jenson Button exited from his stop to find the Toyota of Kamui Kobayashi, who was running on a one-stop strategy. Button, in a heavier car and with tyres that would take several laps to break in, was powerless to stop Kobayashi from simply driving around the outside of him at the giant hairpin at one end of the circuit. Kobayashi would run as high as third during the race before his stop, and would ultimately finish sixth, collecting three World Championship points in only his second race. His performance in Brazil and Abu Dhabi in particular impressed Toyota's management enough for him to be seriously considered for a full-time race seat in 2010[9] (although it subsequently transpired that Toyota withdrew from Formula One before the start of the 2010 season). Fellow Japanese driver Kazuki Nakajima finished in thirteenth, making him the only driver to race in every Grand Prix of the season without scoring a single point.

Sebastian Vettel took his fourth victory of the season.

Elsewhere, Giancarlo Fisichella was given a drive-through penalty and finished his final race for Ferrari a lowly sixteenth, ahead of only Adrian Sutil and Romain Grosjean. Ferrari teammate Kimi Räikkönen – in the final race for his first stint at the Maranello-based outfit, before his return at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix – had a similar struggle from eleventh on the grid, finishing down in twelfth behind fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen. Ferrari's failure to score points meant that the team conceded third place in the Constructors' championship, closing their worst season since Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger drove for them in 1993.

The final few laps saw Jenson Button begin to rapidly reel in the second-placed Mark Webber, whose rear tyres were steadily beginning to lose grip. Button caught up with him with six laps to go, and the final lap was one of the hardest-fought of the season. Both drivers made an error going into the chicane and hairpin, and while Button attempted to make a move on Webber going down the back straight, the Australian defended his line into the switchback. The move meant that Button had the racing line and came out of the ninth corner nose-to-tail with the Red Bull. Button drew alongside Webber in the run down to the bottom corner, forcing Webber to take a defensive line again, but the Red Bull driver held his line and managed to pull the car up in time and held on for second place despite a minor error at turn fourteen.

At the front of the field, Sebastian Vettel won the race by seventeen seconds, securing the runner-up position in the championship from Barrichello, who went on to finish fourth ahead of Nick Heidfeld in BMW Sauber's final race. Kobayashi was sixth, scoring his first career points, with Toyota teammate Jarno Trulli taking seventh, and Sébastien Buemi closing out the points-scoring positions in eighth, four seconds ahead of the Williams of Nico Rosberg, also in his final race for his team.

This was the last race to feature pit stops for refueling, which had been re-introduced in 1994, as the regulations for 2010 had banned them. Jarno Trulli made the final refueling stop on lap 42. This was also the last race to use the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 points scoring system, introduced in 2003 and the last race to date for drivers Fisichella, Nakajima, and the constructors Toyota, BMW and Brawn GP.



Cars that use the KERS system are marked with "‡"

Pos No Driver Constructor Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Grid
1 1‡   Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:39.873 1:39.695 1:40.948 1
2 15   Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:40.666 1:39.984 1:41.615 2
3 14   Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:40.667 1:40.272 1:41.726 3
4 23   Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:40.574 1:40.421 1:41.786 4
5 22   Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:40.378 1:40.148 1:41.892 5
6 9   Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:40.517 1:40.373 1:41.897 6
7 5   Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1:40.520 1:40.545 1:41.992 7
8 6   Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:40.558 1:40.635 1:42.343 8
9 16   Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:40.842 1:40.661 1:42.583 9
10 12   Sébastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:40.908 1:40.430 1:42.713 10
11 4‡   Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:41.100 1:40.726 11
12 10   Kamui Kobayashi Toyota 1:41.035 1:40.777 12
13 2‡   Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:40.808 1:40.983 181
14 17   Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:41.096 1:41.148 13
15 11   Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:41.503 1:41.689 14
16 7   Fernando Alonso Renault 1:41.667 15
17 21   Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:41.701 16
18 20   Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:41.863 17
19 8   Romain Grosjean Renault 1:41.950 19
20 3‡   Giancarlo Fisichella Ferrari 1:42.184 20
1.^ – Kovalainen dropped five places on the grid, after his gearbox required changing after a failure in qualifying.[11]


Cars that use the KERS system are marked with "‡"

Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 15   Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 55 1:34:03.414 2 10
2 14   Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 55 +17.857 3 8
3 22   Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 55 +18.467 5 6
4 23   Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 55 +22.735 4 5
5 6   Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 55 +26.253 8 4
6 10   Kamui Kobayashi Toyota 55 +28.343 12 3
7 9   Jarno Trulli Toyota 55 +34.366 6 2
8 12   Sébastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 55 +41.294 10 1
9 16   Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 55 +45.941 9
10 5   Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 55 +48.180 7
11 2‡   Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 55 +52.798 18
12 4‡   Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 55 +54.317 11
13 17   Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 55 +59.839 13
14 7   Fernando Alonso Renault 55 +1:09.687 15
15 21   Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 55 +1:34.450 16
16 3‡   Giancarlo Fisichella Ferrari 54 +1 Lap 20
17 20   Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 54 +1 Lap 17
18 8   Romain Grosjean Renault 54 +1 Lap 19
Ret 1‡   Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 19 Brakes 1
Ret 11   Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 17 Gearbox 14

Championship standings after the raceEdit

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
  • Bold text indicates the World Champions.


  1. ^ "Abu Dhabi". Archived from the original on 2009-11-26. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Yas Marina Circuit construction progressing". Gulf News. 2008-09-12. Archived from the original on 2009-01-29. Retrieved 2009-01-08.
  3. ^ "Vettel wins as Hamilton drops out". BBC Sport. 2009-11-01. Archived from the original on 3 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-02.
  4. ^ "Glock not 'risked' for F1 Finale". BBC Sport. BBC. 2009-10-27. Archived from the original on 30 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-27.
  5. ^ "Hamilton tops first Abu Dhabi practice". F1 Live. 2009-10-30. Archived from the original on 2 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-30.
  6. ^ Beer, Matt (2009-10-30). "McLaren duo on top in second practice". Autosport.com. Archived from the original on 2 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-31.
  7. ^ a b c d Jonathan Noble and Jamie O'Leary (2009-10-30). "Drivers praise Abu Dhabi circuit". Autosport.com. Archived from the original on 2 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-31.
  8. ^ Beer, Matt (2009-10-31). "Button fastest in final Abu Dhabi practice". Autsport.com. Archived from the original on 3 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-31.
  9. ^ Noble, Jonathan (2009-11-01). "Kobayashi set for 2010 Toyota drive". Autosport.com. Archived from the original on 4 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
  10. ^ "2009 Abu Dhabi GP Qualifying Results". formula1.com. Formula One Association. 2009-10-31. Archived from the original on 3 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
  11. ^ Elizalde, Pablo (2009-10-31). "Kovalainen gets gearbox change penalty". autosport.com. Haymarket Publications. Archived from the original on 3 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-31.
  12. ^ "2009 Abu Dhabi GP Race Results". formula1.com. Formula One Association. 2009-11-01. Archived from the original on 4 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-01.
  13. ^ a b "Abu Dhabi 2009 - Championship • STATS F1". www.statsf1.com. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
Previous race:
2009 Brazilian Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
2009 season
Next race:
2010 Bahrain Grand Prix
Previous race:
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Next race:
2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Preceded by
2008 Singapore Grand Prix
Formula One Promotional Trophy
for Race Promoter

Succeeded by
2010 Korean Grand Prix