Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 August 2020

UAE great sporting moments - No 6: Sebastian Vettel wins four-way title shootout at 2010 Abu Dhabi GP

German became the youngest champion at Yas Marina Circuit

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Every day over three weeks, The National looks back at the 21 greatest moments in UAE sports history.

The 2010 Formula One season was memorable in more ways than one. Not only was the championship decided on the last race of the season – in Abu Dhabi – but four drivers headed to Yas Marina Circuit with a genuine shot at the title. A first.

Formula One bosses had decided on a new points system for the season, with the top 10 awarded 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 points respectively. The idea was that a seven-point gap between first and second place would promote a 'race to win' strategy instead of previous system where podium finishes were enough to secure the drivers' championship.

It certainly turned out so. In the final race of 2010, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso was leading the drivers' championship with 246 points.

Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were second and third on 238 and 231 points. McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, on 222 points, was also in contention with 25 points available for the winner.

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2010 Formula One season

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Alonso held the upper hand at the start of the race. However, after his team took a risky decision to call him in for an early tyre change, the Spaniard found himself stuck behind Renault's Vitaly Petrov for the last 40 laps.

That handed the race to Vettel on a platter. The German became Formula One’s youngest world champion with a pole-to-flag victory in Abu Dhabi after eight changes of leader in the standings over the course of 18 races.

Vettel ended up with 256 points, ahead of Alonso who finished seventh in Abu Dhabi for a season score of 252 points.

“Thank you boys, unbelievable,” Vettel said over the team radio after he took the chequered flag.

"I'm a bit stressed to be honest, I don't know what I'm supposed to say," he later told BBC Sport.

"It's been an incredible year, we've always kept believing in the team, and the car, and I have kept believing in myself.

"I'm speechless. The car was phenomenal. The start was crucial, and it was very tight with Lewis, but after that it settled down."

Alonso needed to finish first or second to secure the title but it wasn't to be.

"This is sport. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose," said Alonso. "It was very good, for me especially after two years of some difficulties, coming back to winning races, fighting for the championship. I'm sure with this team it is very possible to fight for championships in the future, so I am happy."

Updated: July 15, 2020 09:49 AM

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