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Hamilton wins Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

altA new name went into the Yas Marina record books when Lewis Hamilton won the 2011 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for McLaren Mercedes.

In a sensational start to the 55-lap race Sebastian Vettel, whose Red Bull Renault started from pole position, spun off on the second corner with a deflating right rear tyre.

Although the World Champion limped back to pit lane the team could not repair the damage to his wheel and he was out of a race for the first time in 2011.

Hamilton streaked into the lead with a fast-starting Fernando Alonso's Ferrari behind him, relinquished it for one lap at the first round of pit stops but was then never headed en route to his third win of the season and the 17th of his F1 career.

"One of my best races - I said that to myself as I slowed down," said the 26-year-old Englishman. "I'm ecstatic, very happy to be back up here. I can get on my flight tonight and smile!"

Alonso came home second for Ferrari's first podium finish in Abu Dhabi while Jenson Button was third - for the third time here - for McLaren.

Mark Webber's hopes of securing a top result in Vettel's absence disappeared when the team fumbled the Australian's first pit stop, leaving him stationary for almost 10 seconds and effectively out of the running.

Switching to a three-stop strategy, Webber pitted with one lap left but still stayed comfortably ahead of Felipe Massa's Ferrari. The Brazilian now has only one race, his home Grand Prix in two weeks, to avoid being the first Ferrari driver for 20 years to go through a whole season without getting on to the podium.

With Mercedes and Sahara Force India filling the spots from sixth to ninth, Kamui Kobayashi's 10th-place finish for Sauber edged the Swiss team ahead of Toro Rosso again in the fight for seventh place in the Constructors' Championship.

There were 20 classified finishers, with Virgin's Jérôme D'Ambrosio, Toro Rosso's Sébastien Buemi and Daniel Ricciardo of HRT the other men not to make the chequered flag.

 

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