Abu Dhabi: McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton has suggested Sebastian Vettel is “the luckiest person in Formula One” after his remarkable pitlane-to-podium drive in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Vettel was forced to start from the Yas Marina circuit pitlane after Red Bull were found guilty by the stewards of a fuel irregularity issue following qualifying. But despite requiring a front-wing change early in the race, Vettel managed to avoid the bulk of the mayhem that unfolded throughout, and which forced team-mate Mark Webber into retirement, to claim third.
Hamilton, by contrast, suffered his second retirement in five races in his McLaren and his fifth of the season at a time when he was leading and in command. To make matters worse for the British driver, not a single withdrawal has been his fault.
“I’m gutted,” said Hamilton, who suffered a fuel pickup problem in Abu Dhabi and pulled up on lap 20. “I had really good pace all weekend and I feel certain we could have won, but I had a fuel-pressure problem which was very sudden. I was entering a corner and the car died on me.
“Up until then everything had been going really well. The car was a dream to drive, I was cruising and still pulling away when I had my problem. It was a shame I couldn’t have continued because I think we were on for the win, but I was unlucky.
“I then got to watch the race and it was incredible how Sebastian came up from the pit lane. He must be the luckiest person in Formula One.”
Benefiting from Hamilton’s misfortune was Kimi Raikkonen who went on to claim his first win in F1 for just over three years as Lotus finally made it on to the top step of the podium this year.
Not since the Belgian GP of 2009 had the Finn stood atop of the rostrum.
“Congratulations to Kimi, he really drove a fantastic race,” added Hamilton. “I knew at some stage Lotus would win a race this year, so also big congratulations go to them.”
The only saving grace for McLaren, who failed to get two cars home for the fifth time in the last seven races, is that they set a new F1 record for most consecutive races in the points, now at 56.
Button, third in the previous three Abu Dhabi races, was on course for that again until passed by Vettel with only three laps remaining.