Night time not the right time in the desert – ABU DHABI 2011

At least Sauber only got one point – that was the overwhelming sentiment at the end of a weekend that went from bad to worse as surely as the Grand Prix itself went from light to dark. We were not expecting our car to be quite as quick over a single lap here as it had been recently and that was the case. But in the race, when it looked as though Sébastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari might be able to add to our points total, even starting from 13th and 15th, events took a turn for the worse.

Night time not the right time in the desert – ABU DHABI 2011

Everyone moved up one place even before half the crowd had time to take their seats as pole man Vettel picked up a right rear puncture that sent him over the kerb and into retirement with a damaged Red Bull. This meant Sébastien was twelfth and and Jaime fourteenth. Lap 3 and Seb passed Kobayashi to take eleventh and next time round our Swiss driver was already in a points position, tenth, with our Spaniard two places further back. Round lap 9, Séb had a great duel with Di Resta in the Force India, the two men trading places a few times, before the Toro Rosso driver appeared to have settled it for good, which put him ninth place. On lap 15, Jaime made his first pit stop, but there was a mix up and a mistake which saw the car sit there in pit lane for what seemed like an eternity. It was not actually an eternity, but it was long enough to see Jaime spiral down to 23rd and last on the timing screen. From then on, his race was never going to deliver much and he eventually brought the car home in fifteenth spot. After complaining he had no power steering, Buemi realised the problem was more serious – it was a leak from the hydraulic system – and he brought the car into the pits to retire on lap 19. One lap before then he had been as high as seventh, so who knows what might have been.

Spilt milk, water under the bridge – whichever expression you want, the sentiment is the same, namely to ensure we learn from what happened in order not to make the same mistakes again and to focus on the final round in Brazil. At least our rivals for seventh in the Constructors’ championship only got a single point, so we have one last shot at redemption in the exciting surroundings of Sao Paolo on 27th November.

With Vettel out of the way, the path was clear for Lewis Hamilton to take his third win of the season this evening in Abu Dhabi. His McLaren team-mate Jenson Button was third, with Fernando Alonso adding a splash of red to the podium with a strong drive to second place.

Before Brazil we, along with all the other teams will be testing here at Yas Marina from Tuesday through to Thursday in what is known as the Young Driver Test. We are running Kevin Ceccon and Stefano Coletti over the three days, which are also important technically, because after that there is no on-track testing until February 2012.