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LIVE COMMENTARY: 2012 ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX - THE ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX
   GO TO LIVE INDEX ALL TIMES GMT  
As it happened: The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
Hamilton12:45 Hello everyone and welcome to AUTOSPORT Live for coverage and rolling updates on today's potentially fascinating encounter. It's round 18 of the 2012 FIA Formula 1 world championship - the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from Yas Marina.

Lewis Hamilton has shown himself to be the king of fast lap times around this circuit over the past few years. He produced another crushing display in qualifying to take pole by over three-tenths of a second, ahead of Mark Webber.

Sebastian Vettel qualified a solid third yesterday, but he was sensationally excluded from the results of the session more than four hours after it had concluded. Elevated to the inside of row two comes Pastor Maldonado, with Kimi Raikkonen fourth in the Lotus. Jenson Button is fifth in the other McLaren, while Vettel's challenger in the title race - Fernando Alonso - starts from sixth position.

Hamilton beats Webber to Abu Dhabi pole position

The race itself begins in just under 15 minutes' time, but before then we will take a check on the latest weather conditions, examine what the championship protagonists have to do this evening and give you a heads up on the likely tyre strategy for this all-important race.

12:47 Here's how the championship tables look with three rounds to go:
World Championship standings, round 17:                

Drivers:                    Constructors:             
 1.  Vettel       240        1.  Red Bull-Renault          407
 2.  Alonso       227        2.  Ferrari                   316
 3.  Raikkonen    173        3.  McLaren-Mercedes          306
 4.  Webber       167        4.  Lotus-Renault             263
 5.  Hamilton     165        5.  Mercedes                  136
 6.  Button       141        6.  Sauber-Ferrari            116
 7.  Rosberg       93        7.  Force India-Mercedes       93
 8.  Grosjean      90        8.  Williams-Renault           59
12:49 Weather conditions are once again fine and dry as we approach the start of the race.

There was a slight concern yesterday that an increase in humidity could tip the balance for thundery showers to develop in the heat. Showers are indeed falling around the town of Tarif to the south-west of Abu Dhabi, but they are making no advance towards Yas Island so we are good to go for a dry race.

A stiffening north-westerly wind is again evident and air temperature has dipped slightly from today's high of 32 degrees Celsius.

12:49 An Etihad Airways Airbus A340 from the nearby airport provides a spectacular flypast over the grid.

12:50 Here's how the grid will line up:
Pos  Driver              Team/Car
 1.  Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes
 2.  Mark Webber         Red Bull-Renault
 3.  Pastor Maldonado    Williams-Renault
 4.  Kimi Raikkonen      Lotus-Renault
 5.  Jenson Button       McLaren-Mercedes
 6.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari
 7.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes
 8.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari
 9.  Romain Grosjean     Lotus-Renault
10.  Nico Hulkenberg     Force India-Mercedes
11.  Sergio Perez        Sauber-Ferrari
12.  Paul di Resta       Force India-Mercedes
13.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes
14.  Bruno Senna         Williams-Renault
15.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari
16.  Daniel Ricciardo    Toro Rosso-Ferrari
17.  Jean-Eric Vergne    Toro Rosso-Ferrari
18.  Heikki Kovalainen   Caterham-Renault
19.  Charles Pic         Marussia-Cosworth
20.  Vitaly Petrov       Caterham-Renault
21.  Timo Glock          Marussia-Cosworth
22.  Pedro de la Rosa    HRT-Cosworth
23.  Narain Karthikeyan  HRT-Cosworth
PIT  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull-Renault *

* Qualifying times deleted due to insufficient fuel sample
12:50 Drivers begin to get themselves prepared with under 10 minutes to the formation lap.

Vettel12:51 Vettel's exclusion from the qualifying results meant he was shuffled to the back of the grid. Red Bull quickly decided to start the German from the pitlane for today's 55-lap encounter. Needless to say, he faces a long evening ahead on a circuit where overtaking has proved difficult.

Many fans have wondered how this will work, given the long, twisty nature of the pitlane and its unique exit through the tunnel. FIA race director Charlie Whiting confirmed earlier that he will switch the pit exit light to green once he can no longer see the field moving through Turn 1, allowing Vettel to get on with his job.

Starting from the pitlane has allowed Red Bull to change Vettel's gearbox and ratios, alter the suspension settings and reduce the downforce - all in an attempt to help him gain top speed and make overtaking his competitors easier.

Alonso12:53 It's a golden opportunity for Alonso to regain momentum in the title race. Despite starting sixth, the Spaniard has been fast and determined in recent races, so a podium finish is certainly possible.

A bold opening lap in India led to a fine second place, so look out for the championship challenger making up places with another quick start.

It won't be easy for Alonso to maximise his points haul though, with quick drivers including Button, Raikkonen and Maldonado ahead on the grid.

12:54 There is an enormous scrum of reporters and photographers at the end of the pitlane surrounding Vettel's car. The German receives a word of encouragement from the sport's supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

12:55 There is just five minutes remaining until the formation lap begins at Yas Marina.

Tyres12:55 Pirelli's soft and medium compound are looking durable on the smooth Yas Marina circuit, with one stop the clear plan this afternoon.

Q3 drivers will be starting on the soft rubber, which does have a slightly more limited distance range than the harder tyres. A switch to the hard tyres is expected when the lap count reaches the late twenties.

Expect many of those outside the top 10 to opt for a long first stint with the harder tyres, making a switch to softs when the fuel load is reduced and more rubber has gone down on the track surface.

12:56 Two DRS zones here, the first down the long back straight into Turn 8 with another chance to open the wing down the second stretch into 11.

12:57 Hamilton was peerless in qualifying yesterday and is challenging for a second successive victory at this circuit.

12:58 Hamilton's main concern will be his start, which hasn't been great over the last few races.

12:58 Webber is leaving his gloves off and keep as cool as possible with a couple of minutes to go. He starts alongside Hamilton.

12:59 Webber lines up second in his Red Bull and could be vulnerable to DRS attack, with the unmodified RB8 slowest in the speed traps here.

12:59 The engines fire with a minute to the formation lap.

12:59 Schumacher and Senna have opted for the harder rubber.

13:00 The formation lap begins at Yas Marina. Hamilton answers the call and leads the 23 cars away, with Vettel sat at the pitlane exit.

13:00 Pirelli data also suggests Vettel is also going for the harder rubber for his early adventures.

13:01 Problems for de la Rosa. He did not get away and the HRT mechanics are trying to push him.

13:01 Hamilton leads the pack down the long straight and begins the run back towards the end of the lap.

13:02 De la Rosa has been pushed into the pitlane and HRT will try and resolve the Spaniard's issue.

13:02 Hamilton makes the turn for home and leads the pack into the start-finish straight.

13:03 The front few rows are in position, Vettel in the pitlane and de la Rosa behind him. We await the lights...

Lap 1: The five red lights go out and we are racing at Yas Marina!

Lap 1: Hamilton gets a good start and Raikkonen is through into second ahead of Maldonado and Webber, but there is contact behind in Turn 1.

Lap 1: Hamilton is cleanly away down the straight with Raikkonen launching brilliantly up to second with Maldonado third.

Lap 1: Yellow flags out and Vettel is catching the pack quickly, having been released by Charlie Whiting.

Lap 1: Heading in to the twisty section it is Hamilton from Raikkonen, Maldonado and Alonso as he pulls off a great move on Webber.

Lap 1: Disaster for Force India with Hulkenberg and di Resta way down the field. Vettel is up to 22nd position.

Lap 2: Not a great first lap for Webber as Alonso demotes him to fifth, with the Red Bull slow as predicted down the straights.

Lap 2: Grosjean is touring back to the pits with a right front puncture. Rosberg is also into the pits at the end of the first lap.

Lap 2: Hamilton leads them into lap two with a 1.4 second margin over Raikkonen.

Lap 2: Hulkenberg did not get moving again after his part in the collision at Turn 1. He is out of the race.

Lap 2: Vettel is quickly moving through the field. He has passed Senna and is up to 19th spot.

Lap 2: Mistake for Hamilton there and this is a chance for Raikkonen...

Lap 2: Hamilton holds off the Finn for now but complains of cold tyres over these early laps.

Lap 3: A frenetic start to this race. Rosberg has rejoined after his pit visit in 21st position.

Lap 3: Vettel reports he has a damaged front wing over the team radio.

Lap 3: Hamilton shakes off Raikkonen by 0.8 seconds as the Lotus man sets the fastest lap, before Alonso takes over the best early time.

Lap 3: Alonso is right with Maldonado as the DRS becomes available.

Lap 3: Vettel is up to 18th place ahead of Karthikeyan, but it seems like he will brave the damage for now, as the Red Bull mechanics go back into the garage.

Lap 3: Vettel passes Pic and is up to 16th position. He race engineer confirms there is slight damage to the front wing.

Lap 4: It's Hamilton from Raikkonen, Maldonado, Alonso, Webber, Button, Massa and a great early few laps for Kobaysahi to run eighth.

Lap 4: Perez is ninth with Schumacher 10th, Ricciardo a great start up to 11th, Vergne 12th and Kovalainen 13th.

Lap 4: Glock is 14th in the Marussia with Petrov 15th and under attack from Vettel.

Lap 4: Hamilton seems to be getting heat in his Pirellis now as he pulls 1.9 seconds clear with the fastest lap.

Lap 5: Replays of the start show Hamilton will be very pleased with his launch, leading clear into Turn 1 as Raikkonen also got away brilliantly.

Lap 5: Replays of the start show that the two Force India drivers and Senna tangled into the first corner. Di Resta escaped with slight damage but Hulkenberg was out on the spot after a secondary impact with the Brazilian.

Lap 5: Webber was slow off the line, allowing Raikkonen through as Button was compromised by the Australian.

Lap 5: Vettel has passed Petrov and Glock. He is up to 14th place now.

Lap 5: Vettel now has some clear space to work with. He is 3.7s behind 13th placed Kovalainen.

Lap 5: Hamilton continues to build his lead with a 1m48.552s fastest lap to move 2.3 seconds clear.

Lap 6: Hamilton's lead is now 2.5s, with the best scrap at the front being Maldonado holding off Alonso by under a second in third and fourth

Lap 7: Perez has moved up ahead of team-mate Kobayashi and into eighth, as Sauber swaps the positions.

Lap 7: Alonso is getting a double bite of the DRS on Maldonado but the Williams is quick down the straights and the Spaniard is yet to get close.

Lap 7: Kobayashi in ninth is losing a lot of pace and Schumacher (10th) is catching the Japanese quickly.

Lap 7: Webber runs fifth, keeping Vettel in sight and under little threat from Button behind him.

Lap 7: Vettel is now just 0.6s behind Kovalainen's Caterham and shaping up to take 13th position.

Lap 8: Vettel has passed the Finn and is up to 13th spot.

Lap 8: Button is told Webber has lost his DRS window on Alonso, allowing the McLaren a chance to close. But he is not close enough.

Lap 8: The stewards announce that Hulkenberg's incident at the start will be investigated after the race.

Lap 8: Hamilton is checking out now up front, pulling 3.5 seconds clear of Raikkonen with a strong 1m48.148s fastest lap.

Lap 8: Senna has passed Glock's Marussia and he takes over 15th.

Lap 9: Vettel has clear space for the moment, as he works on bridging a three second gap to 12th placed Vergne.

Lap 9: The safety car has been deployed.

Lap 9: Rosberg and Karthikeyan have been involved in a huge crash. Rosberg climbs out of the car.

Lap 9: Rosberg is walking away after final contact with the barriers. Karthikeyan is also out of his car.

Lap 9: This is well out of the pitstop window, so drivers are likely to stay out.

Lap 9: The Indian walks across the asphalt run-off area to a safe position.

Lap 9: Replays show that Karthikeyan's car slowed heavily with smoke out the back and Rosberg piled straight into the rear of the HRT.

Lap 10: Not great news for Hamilton as he ends up losing his lead gap. Vettel will however be delighted with the pack closing up.

Lap 10: Rosberg was launched over the Indian's car and was very lucky not to flip. The car landed on its wheels.

Lap 10: Rosberg and Karthikeyan are chatting amicably as they wander back to the pits.

Lap 10: While all this is going on, Vergne pitted and has rejoined down in 15th position.

Lap 10: Raikkonen is now right with Hamilton, whose tyres will cool down again, perhaps giving the Finn another chance to challenge for the lead.

Lap 10: Di Resta is also into the pits from 21st position. Meantime, there is a lot of damage still on track where Rosberg and Karthikeyan made contact.

Lap 10: Vergne's stop has promoted Vettel to 12th position as the safety car period continues.

Lap 11: Further replays show that de la Rosa ran straight through the damage and bits of carbon fibre in the aftermath of the crash.

Lap 11: Hamilton laments losing his lead gap to the team but is encouraged on by the team. He is also concerned about the major debris field.

Lap 11: Hamilton leads the pack with Raikkonen second, Maldonado third, Alonso fourth, Webber fifth and Button in sixth.

Lap 11: Stewards will investigate the incident between Rosberg and Karthikeyan after the race.

Lap 12: Meantime, Vettel remains slightly concerned about the state of his front wing. He would like the team to change it when he eventually comes in for a stop.

Lap 12: Continuing the order, Massa is seventh with Perez eighth, Kobayashi ninth, Schumacher 10th, Ricciardo 11th and Vettel 12th.

Lap 13: Further replays of Vettel in the early laps show that he tagged the left rear corner of Senna's car as they were battling for position.

Lap 13: Oh, this is going from bad to worse for Vettel. Ricciardo slowed in front of him under the safety car and Vettel has been off the road.

Lap 13: Vettel brushed the barrier again and also drove through a polystyrene block.

Lap 13: Adrian Newey has been reminding himself of the front wing construction on his RB8 as Vettel further deranges his example.

Lap 13: Red Bull is again preparing a front wing and the German is far from happy, complaining about the young Australian's driving.

Lap 13: Marshals are at last getting on with brushing up the debris from the Rosberg/Karthikeyan crash.

Lap 14: Red Bull prepare for Vettel to stop and here he comes into the pitlane.

Lap 14: Meanwhile Hamilton continues to lead the snake as the lengthy clean-up goes on.

Lap 14: Vettel takes on a set of soft tyres and a new front wing. He rejoins after a 9.1s stop at the rear of the pack.

Lap 14: So the championship leader drops to 21st position.

Lap 14: The safety car will pit at the end of this lap.

Lap 14: Hamilton slows the pack and gets ready to launch off into the lead again.

Lap 14: Hamilton backs the field up to get them tight, before deciding when to try and bolt away...

Lap 15: The safety car comes into the pitlane and we are racing once again.

Lap 15: Webber is eying a move on Alonso to pay back the Spaniard for his first lap shuffle.

Lap 15: Alonso was busy trying to get past Maldonado and only just holds off Webber as they head onto the back straight.

Lap 15: Only 15 laps in and we've had more drama at Abu Dhabi this year than in the previous three events combined.

Lap 15: Alonso's Ferrari is quicker down the straight but all that action has let Maldonado get away in third.

Lap 15: Vettel has passed di Resta and de la Rosa. He is up to 19th position.

Lap 16: Hamilton is over a second clear of Raikkonen as they race around to the scene of the crash for the first time since the restart.

Lap 16: A 1m47.886s fastest lap for Hamilton as he pulls back to a 1.6 second lead.

Lap 16: Grosjean also made it through past the HRT driver. Vettel is now chasing Grosjean as they begin a fight over 18th position.

Lap 16: No DRS for another lap so the straight line speed challenged Webber can't get close to Alonso this time.

Lap 16: Vettel is on Grosjean's gearbox now and there is three cars abreast as the pair of them come through past Pic in the Marussia.

Lap 17: Vettel and Grosjean swap positions twice, before the German finally prevails. He is up to 17th position.

Lap 17: Another quick lap from Hamilton and his lead is out to 2.3 seconds over Raikkonen and Maldonado.

Lap 17: Replays show that Vettel had all four wheels off the circuit when he came back past Grosjean for the second time.

Lap 18: He gave position back to the Lotus. Then a few corners later he is through for a third time and now safely into 17th.

Lap 18: Perez is right on Massa's tail at the moment as the pair circulate seventh and eighth.

Lap 18: Behind the top eight, Kobayashi remains in ninth with Schumacher 10th, Ricciardo 11th and Kovalainen 12th.

Lap 18: Maldonado, third, is falling away from the rear of Raikkonen and into the clutches of Alonso.

Lap 18: Senna is 13th with Vergne 14th, Glock 15th, Petrov 16th and Vettel now in 17th position.

Lap 19: Alonso has plenty of heat on his case though, with both Webber and Button right behind.

Lap 19: Petrov has made an error and dropped back several positions. Vettel then also passes Glock and is up to 15th spot.

Lap 20: Things brewing nicely behind Hamilton and Raikkonen as Maldonado, Alonso, Webber and Button run right together down the long back straight.

Lap 20: Hamilton clocks a 1m47.266s to pull 3.4 seconds clear of Raikkonen.

Lap 20: Vettel has caught up to the back of Vergne's Toro Rosso. This is a developing battle for 14th.

Lap 20: Vettel is through and takes the place. Meantime, Senna has passed Kovalainen to take 12th spot.

Lap 21: Leader Hamilton is slowing...

Lap 21: It's happened again for McLaren as the dominant race leader pulls to a halt.

Lap 21: Yellow flags now out for Hamilton.

Lap 21: Hamilton has stopped on the grass as the team report a loss of all power.

Lap 21: That puts Raikkonen in the lead for Lotus.

Lap 21: Vettel has passed Kovalainen and is up to 12th position, after Hamilton's demise.

Lap 21: Gutting for Hamilton though, who is forced out of a comfortable lead for the second time in Abu Dhabi.

Lap 22: Meanwhile, Alonso makes a move on Maldonado as the Spaniard pulls off a DRS on the Williams.

Lap 22: Vettel is 0.6s behind Senna and shaping up to try and take 11th spot from the Brazilian.

Lap 22: That puts Alonso up to a vital second place as he used the second DRS zone to punish Maldonado for a slow run through the chicane.

Lap 22: Vettel has passed Senna on this lap and is through to 11th. Ricciardo separates the German from the points.

Lap 22: Yellow flags remain out as Hamilton's McLaren is removed from the circuit.

Lap 22: Alonso matches new leader Raikkonen on pace in the mid 1m47s bracket with the gap between them 5.4 seconds.

Lap 23: Webber is now looking for his move on Maldonado. Button is right with that pair.

Lap 23: "Just leave me alone," Raikkonen tells his team in a classic message on the radio as he pulls to a 5.7 second lead.

Lap 23: Vettel is catching Ricciardo hand-over-fist. The gap is under one second now - battle for 10th.

Lap 24: It is taking an age to remove Hamilton's car away from the scene. Yellow flags remain in place.

Lap 24: Webber dives for a move on Maldonado but the door is closed and the Red Bull spins onto the run-off.

Lap 24: Finally, a handful of marshals are pushing the McLaren through a gap in the barriers.

Lap 24: Raikkonen sets the fastest lap at 1m47.238s, making his lead a strong 6.2 seconds.

Lap 24: Vettel has passed Ricciardo. He can pass go and collect one point.

Lap 24: Replays show Webber trying an outside move on Maldonado but he wasn't clear of the Williams and spins down to seventh.

Lap 25: The McLaren is finally out of the way and the circuit is all-clear once again.

Lap 25: Button tries the inside of Maldonado at Turn 11 and makes it work, taking over third place.

Lap 25: That contact between Webber and Maldonado is now under investigation.

Lap 25: Vettel is now on Schumacher's tail and this is a fight for ninth place.

Lap 25: Perez finally makes his move on Massa, barging past the Ferrari to take over what is now fifth place.

Lap 26: So the full order is Raikkonen leading by 6.7s over Alonso, Button, Maldonado, Perez in fifth and Massa sixth.

Lap 26: Webber is seventh with Kobayashi eighth, Schumacher ninth and Vettel is 22.4s off the lead in 10th spot.

Lap 26: Raikkonen asks for his pitboard to show the gap back to Alonso, which is currently a handy 6.7 seconds.

Lap 26: Vettel has passed Schumacher and Kobayashi pits from eighth position.

Lap 26: Webber has now caught up with Massa in a scrap for sixth.

Lap 26: Vettel now up to eighth spot, as Koabyashi takes on another set of tyres and gets underway again in 16th position.

Lap 27: Webber tries DRS on Massa and ends up wide on the run-off. Massa is then tipped into a smoky spin.

Lap 27: Vettel is now up to seventh spot with Schumacher eighth, Massa rejoins in ninth and Ricciardo is 10th.

Lap 27: Replays show no contact between the pair in the second phase of that moment, with Massa spinning after hitting the kerb off line.

Lap 27: Massa pits the Ferrari and Ricciardo is also in this time round.

Lap 28: But that will surely come under scrutiny from the stewards as Massa complains about how Webber re-joined.

Lap 28: No further action will be taken on the earlier incident between Maldonado and Webber.

Lap 28: Vettel sets the fastest lap as he comes around in seventh.

Lap 28: Schumacher pits from eighth place in a race full of action and incident so far.

Lap 29: Vettel is just 22.9 seconds off the lead and could move up significantly if he can hold on to those soft tyres to the flag.

Lap 29: Massa rejoined from his stop in 15th position, just behind Michael Schumacher.

Lap 29: Vettel could leap up into a podium place once the others pit, but the question is can he go the distance without another tyre change.

Lap 29: Alonso is in for his switch to hard tyres for the run to the end.

Lap 29: Alonso resumes in seventh, now behind Vettel on the road.

Lap 29: No further action will be taken for that clash between Webber and Massa.

Lap 30: Kovalainen pits from 13th and de la Rosa is in and out from 17th place in the HRT.

Lap 30: Maldonado is under attack on DRS again, with Perez now making it past the Williams and up to fourth.

Lap 30: Kovalainen was 13th of course, but has rejoined in 16th place, with de la Rosa falling back to 20th after his stop.

Lap 30: Webber is now chasing Maldonado and has Vettel right behind.

Lap 30: Button lets them get on with that scrap as he pits for fresh tyres.

Lap 30: Maldoando is in this time, releasing the Red Bull pair.

Lap 31: So it's Raikkonen leading but yet to stop with Webber now second on the road as the Australian is ordered not to fight his team-mate.

Lap 32: Webber is called in to the Red Bull pit, releasing team-mate Vettel.

Lap 32: Perez is also in for a single change of tyres.

Lap 32: All that pitstop action puts Vettel up to second on the road, with Raikkonen 22.3 seconds ahead but yet to stop.

Lap 32: Alonso is close behind Vettel in third, chased by Button.

Lap 32: Leader Raikkonen is in this time.

Lap 33: It's a clean stop at Lotus and he resumes just ahead of Vettel on the road.

Lap 33: Positions are static further down the order, with all the main action in the race now focusing on the top seven.

Lap 33: Button, fourth, is the man looking most likely at the moment with the fastest lap. He's right on the gearbox of Alonso.

Lap 34: Senna is fifth and yet to stop in the Williams, with Vergne also yet to come in from sixth. Grosjean is seventh with di Resta in eighth spot.

Lap 34: Senna pits this time round from that fifth place and takes on soft tyres.

Lap 34: Senna drops down the order to 14th position.

Lap 34: Vettel, second at the moment, is clocked 1.4 seconds behind Raikkonen as Lotus tell the leader the Red Bull doesn't have to stop again.

Lap 34: So Vergne moves into fifth, with Grosjean sixth, di Resta seventh, Perez eighth, Webber ninth and Maldonado 10th.

Lap 35: Vettel will have to make it 40 laps on his set of soft tyres, changed at the end of the safety car period when he came in for wing repairs.

Lap 35: Kobayashi is 11th with Schumacher 12th, Massa 13th, Senna 14th, Ricciardo 15th and Kovalainen in 16th place.

Lap 35: Vergne now comes in from sixth spot in the Toro Rosso.

Lap 35: Button remains right with Alonso as he enjoys the grip from the medium compound, which has worked well for McLaren this weekend.

Lap 35: Vettel is told he is "as fast as Alonso behind" as Red Bull ask him to keep pushing.

Lap 35: Vergne rejoined in 14th place after his stop. He took on a set of soft tyres.

Lap 36: Button sets fastest sectors again as he piles the pressure on Alonso.

Lap 36: Grosjean is now up to fifth, but 12 seconds behind the leading four. Di Resta is his tail in sixth, with Perez and Webber right there.

Lap 36: Meanwhile, Raikkonen has a 3.6 second lead over tyre-saving Vettel.

Lap 37: Red Bull is eying the pit window for a second stop for Vettel, with a late final stop bringing him out right with that Grosjean squabble.

Lap 38: 40 laps will be a mighty stretch for Vettel, with all the risks of the rubber falling off the cliff in the closing stages.

Lap 38: Vettel is called in to the Red Bull pits.

Lap 38: Fifth placed Grosjean has slipped to 14 seconds behind the leaders, with di Resta, Perez, Webber all close and Maldonado is catching them.

Lap 38: Vettel answers the call and this will be tight with Grosjean and co.

Lap 38: Soft tyres on Vettel and he resumes...

Lap 38: Clear of Grosjean and in fourth place.

Lap 38: Despite a fumble in that stop, Vettel is back on track with fresh softs and can look to close in on Button and Alonso.

Lap 39: Grosjean defends the inside against an attack from di Resta, but the Scot is through and up to fifth place.

Lap 39: Perez comes through past Grosjean as well and engages in a fight with di Resta. The pair make contact and Webber is caught up in it.

Lap 39: It's chaos back in that pack and the safety car could be needed here.

Lap 39: The safety car has been deployed.

Lap 39: Webber is out of the race with a destroyed rear wheel. Perez comes in to the pits and Ricciardo follows him.

Lap 39: Ricciardo gets away again but Perez gets away after a long stop at the Sauber pit.

Lap 39: That wipes out Raikkonen's lead as he forms up behind the big Mercedes. Alonso and Button will have a fresh-tyred Vettel right behind.

Lap 39: Vettel amazingly could be on for the win now, restarting right with the podium trio and on fresh softs against their used hards.

Lap 39: Di Resta took to the grass to avoid Perez and managed to get through unscathed. Replays show that Perez was then hit by Grosjean.

Lap 39: Grosjean is also out of the race. Webber had nowhere to go and collected the spinning Perez.

Lap 39: Di Resta is in and back out of the pits under the safety car.

Lap 40: Marshals are now on the scene to recover debris - mainly belonging to Webber's Red Bull.

Lap 40: Gaps finally closing up at the front now with Raikkonen ready to defend his lead from a dangerous pack of Alonso, Button and Vettel.

Lap 41: Behind the leading quartet, Maldonado is back up to fifth with Kobayashi sixth, Schumacher seventh, Massa eighth and Senna ninth.

Lap 41: Button reports that Alonso is very quick on the straights and is warned of Vettel's speed once the DRS becomes available.

Lap 41: Vergne is 10th in the Toro Rosso, with di Resta 11th, Ricciardo 12th, Kovalainen 13th, Perez 14th, Glock 15th, Petrov 16th and Pic 17th.

Lap 41: Raikkonen is told to warm his tyres, which he comically acknowledges.

Lap 41: Grosjean arrives back in the paddock on foot and will shortly be explaining the incident from his standpoint.

Lap 42: Schumacher pits from eighth position in the Mercedes. He rejoins towards the rear of the pack in 16th position.

Lap 42: Pic comes in but this looks far more serious. He is wheeled into the Marussia garage.

Lap 42: Perez has been handed a 10 second penalty by the stewards for causing that recent collision.

Lap 42: The safety car will pit at the end of this lap.

Lap 42: Schumacher is told over the team radio that he had in fact picked up a right rear puncture.

Lap 43: The safety car comes into the pitlane and we are racing once again.

Lap 43: Raikkonen leads way chased by Alonso, Button and Vettel.

Lap 43: No moves on the run down the first long straight, with DRS disabled for the next two laps.

Lap 43: Maldonado holds onto fifth with Kobayashi sixth, Massa seventh, Senna eighth, Vergne ninth and di Resta in 10th.

Lap 43: Vettel looks quick on his fresh tyres and is all over the gearbox of Button's McLaren.

Lap 44: Ricciardo is 11th with Perez 12th. The Mexican has still to come in for his 10 second stop-go penalty. Kovalainen is 13th in the Caterham.

Lap 44: Raikkonen sets the fastest lap as he pulls 1.9 seconds clear at the front.

Lap 44: Schumacher is 14th and on the tail of Kovalainen.

Lap 44: Still no DRS, but Vettel is right with Button on the run down to Turn 8.

Lap 44: Vettel tries it on down to 11 but can't make it stick. DRS will be back on the next lap.

Lap 45: Schumacher has passed Kovalainen and is up into 13th place.

Lap 45: Raikkonen pulls a strong 2.5 seconds clear of the Alonso, Button, Vettel scrap.

Lap 45: Perez comes in to serve his 10-second stop-go penalty in the Sauber.

Lap 45: The Mexican gets away again, but has slipped down the list to 17th place.

Lap 45: Di Resta has passed Jean-Eric Vergne. That moves the Scot up into ninth place.

Lap 46: Raikkonen looks comfortable up front here, pulling three seconds clear of Alonso. Button is also keeping Vettel at bay so far.

Lap 46: Maldonado has slipped to two seconds behind the top four drivers. Kobayashi is a further two seconds back from the Venezuelan.

Lap 46: DRS for both Button and Vettel as they both chase Alonso. No change there for now.

Lap 47: Massa is seventh and on Kobayashi's gearbox, with Senna also right there in eighth, then a slight gap to di Resta.

Lap 47: Further back, Schumacher is making progress through the order. He is on Vergne's tail in a battle for 11th.

Lap 48: Raikkonen is letting this fight evolve in the distance as he is now clocked three seconds ahead of Alonso, who sets the fastest lap.

Lap 48: A bit of pace from Alonso there puts Button 1.6 seconds back and without DRS to defend from Vettel.

Lap 48: Senna is eighth runs slightly wide at Turn 1. He loses a little ground to Massa and this gives di Resta (ninth) some hope.

Lap 49: Vettel tries the difficult outside line on Button but it still doesn't work. Alonso, meanwhile, is putting on a spurt.

Lap 49: Webber has completed a long journey back to the paddock and will shortly be explaining how he had little chance of avoiding the carnage in front of him.

Lap 49: Button now well behind Alonso and not getting DRS, allowing Vettel to come ever closer into Turn 11.

Lap 49: Schumacher makes an easy move and takes 11th place away from Jean-Eric Vergne.

Lap 50: Alonso is cutting the lead gap rapidly now, clocked at 2.2 seconds as they cross the line.

Lap 51: Just two seconds separate Raikkonen and Alonso with five laps remaining in a fascinating Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Lap 52: Maldonado remains in fifth, now 3.8s behind Vettel, with Kobayashi sixth. Massa is seventh. He has Senna and di Resta right with him.

Lap 52: Ricciardo is holding onto the final point in 10th, but Schumacher is 2.5s back and closed in by 0.7s on the last lap.

Lap 52: Vettel vs Button finally kicks off and the Red Bull is through.

Lap 53: Vettel got a good run on DRS into Turn 11, going for the outside sweep around Button to take over the final podium place.

Lap 53: Meanwhile, Alonso is clocked 1.4 seconds behind leader Raikkonen.

Lap 53: Perez is 16th and has caught Petrov, but the main focus remains on this pulsating fight at the front of the field.

Lap 54: Perez is now through and past the Caterham into 15th position.

Lap 54: No DRS this time for Alonso but he's right with leader Raikkonen now.

Lap 54: Vettel has pulled a gap on Button but is some 3.9 seconds behind title rival Alonso.

Lap 54: Raikkonen begins the final lap in the lead.

Lap 55: Alonso isn't close enough for DRS and it looks good for Raikkonen as he heads into the middle sector.

Lap 55: The top four drivers all in the same shot, with Maldonado 5.4s behind them in fifth, ahead of Kobayashi sixth and Massa seventh.

14:49 Kimi Raikkonen wins the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix!

14:49 A brilliant drive from the 2007 champion as Lotus finally clinch victory after early leader Hamilton was forced to retire.

14:49 Alonso grabs a fine second place, pushing Raikkonen all the way to the flag to make progress in the title campaign.

14:49 Vettel grabs the final podium after a busy drive through the field and some good fortune with safety car strategy.

14:49 Button finishes fourth, one short of his customary place at this event.

14:50 Fifth for Maldonado in the end, chased in by Kobayashi and Massa.

14:51 Senna finished in eighth, on Massa's gearbox, with di Resta right there in ninth spot. Ricciardo held off Schumacher for the final point.

14:51 So Schumacher ends up point-less in 11th with Vergne 12th, Kovalainen 13th in the Caterham, Glock 14th and Perez 15th.

14:52 Petrov ends the day in 16th ahead of de la Rosa, who was the final finisher in 17th place.

14:53 Delight for the Enstone-based Lotus team as Raikkonen steps out of the car to celebrate a long-overdue triumph.

14:55 Seven drivers retired from this evening's race:

Pic pulled into the pits with mechanical problems during the second safety car period. Grosjean and Webber were involved in that mighty four-car incident at two-thirds distance.

Hamilton was leading comfortably when he was forced to retire with a loss of power. Karthikeyan suffered a failure and slowed dramatically. Rosberg couldn't react in time and slammed into the HRT in a scary-looking crash.

Hulkenberg was the first casualty of the day. He tangled with team-mate di Resta, Kobayashi and Senna in the first corner.

14:57 The top three drivers walk out onto the podium and the Finnish national anthem rings out for this evening's winner - Kimi Raikkonen.

14:58 That is followed by God Save the Queen for today's winning constructor - Lotus.

14:59 Raikkonen returns to the top step of the podium for the first time since Spa 2009 and picks up the winning trophy for his 19th victory.

14:59 Team boss Eric Boullier takes the constructors' prize for Lotus, with the Enstone-based team winning for the first time since Japan in 2008.

15:00 Fernando Alonso receives his award for second place. The Spaniard is delighted to claw back some ground on title rival Vettel.

15:00 A fine third-place trophy for Vettel as he reflects on a great comeback drive through the field.

15:01 The champagne sprays on the podium and Raikkonen takes a well-earned drink of the bubbly, before spraying team members below.

15:02 David Coulthard is on hand to interview the podium drivers.

15:02 Despite Raikkonen's win, it's a two-horse race in the drivers' championship now with Vettel's lead cut to 10 points over Alonso.

15:04 Red Bull is close to victory in the constructors' race, needing little from the final two races to take the title back to Milton Keynes.

15:05 Plenty of talking points in that one so stick with AUTOSPORT for all the reaction to an action-packed Abu Dhbai Grand Prix.

15:08 Kimi Raikkonen returns to the winners' circle in Formula 1. We wondered if he would manage to deliver on the promise that Lotus showed through various stages of the season, but it all came right today and the Finn put in a superb drive to claim 25 points.

Alonso scores a vital second place and claws back some important ground on Vettel in the championship fight. The German had an entertaining day to say the least, but he will be delighted to get on the podium.

Pastor Maldonado deserves a note for a fighting drive to fifth, but the only man possibly unhappy to see the Venezuelan score good points will be the eliminated Mark Webber. Disaster for Hamilton after a great performance in the early stages of the race. Once again his Abu Dhabi curse struck when he was looking comfortable in front.

This was the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on AUTOSPORT Live. Thanks for joining us over the last three days of action. We will be back for the sport's long-awaited return to the United States at Austin's Circuit of the Americas in two weeks time.

  OVERVIEW ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX  
Race length: 55 laps
  CURRENT WEATHER
Clear skies High Temp: 30°C / 86°F
Track: Dry
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Friday 02 Nov Start GMT
 Friday practice one 08:55
 Friday practice two 12:55
Saturday 03 Nov
 Saturday practice 09:55
 Qualifying 12:50
Sunday 04 Nov
 The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 12:45
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