Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 November 2019

First F1 race puts Abu Dhabi in the fast lane: when Sebastian Vettel celebrated his victory

We reminisce on the moment when the then Red Bull racer won the capital's first Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel, left, of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates with second placed team mate Mark Webber after winning the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 1, 2009. Getty Images
Sebastian Vettel, left, of Germany and Red Bull Racing celebrates with second placed team mate Mark Webber after winning the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 1, 2009. Getty Images

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire the race after only 21 laps due to brake problems. World champion Jenson Button had overtaken Brawn GP teammate Rubens Barrichello, who lost a front-wing endplate, on the opening lap. Amid the commotion, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel secured a lead of about 18 seconds, setting the fastest time of the race on the penultimate lap and going on to win the final round of the 2009 Formula One season at the new Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.

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Abu Dhabi F1: Lana Del Rey and Marshmello complete concert line-up

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That’s how the UAE’s first F1 race took place on Sunday, November 1, that year. Vettel grabbed pole position, followed by teammate Mark Webber in second, with Button in third. Button came first overall that season, with Vettel second and Barrichello in third. Brawn GP were named as champion constructor.

The race ushered in a new era of sport for the country. Thousands of spectators from across the world flocked to the capital to see world-class drivers battle it out on the impressive, newly constructed track, as pop superstars performed at the event and spectacular fireworks topped it all off.

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It was the first F1 race in the country, but the second in the Middle East, as Bahrain founded its own Grand Prix three years earlier. The events now complement each other, with Bahrain playing host to the second race of the season and Abu Dhabi the last. This year, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix takes place from Friday, November 29 to Monday, December 2.

The UAE has seen all sorts of A-listers perform at the event over the years. In 2009, Beyonce, Jamiroquai, Kings of Leon and Aerosmith performed. This year, race-goers can look forward to performances by Marshmello, Travis Scott, Lana Del Rey and The Killers.

Updated: November 5, 2019 05:12 AM

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