Sebastian Vettel won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and in doing so, the 23-year-old became Formula 1's youngest-ever world champion. This win was also momentous as he had beaten main rivals Fernando Alonso (who finished seventh) and Mark Webber (who ended up in eighth place). Vettel had led the entire afternoon, except for a few laps before Jenson Button made his late pitstop.
The course of the championship was decided by an incident behind Vettel. Alonso had been the race favorite and he actually only had to land on the top four to secure the title, even if Vettel had ended up as the winner.
However, Alonso failed to achieve his goal as he had been stuck behind Vitaly Petrov's car in the lower end of the top 10, due to an early shuffling of the race order.
What happened instead is that Nico Rosberg and Renault’s Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov took advantage of alternative strategies offered by an early-race safety car period to finish fourth, fifth and sixth.
It forced Alonso and Webber down the order. This succession of events was set off by Webber's early pitstop to get rid of the first set of tires, on which he was slipping backwards from Alonso's rear wing.
The Australian resumed on lap 13 in 16th place, at the back of Jaime Alguersuari's Toro Rosso. Massa was close behind Webber. In response, Ferrari responded by pitting him to see if he could come out to the front of the Red Bull. When he emerged behind, and Webber lapped 0.8 seconds quicker than Alonso in the next time, Ferrari decided to bring the Spaniard in to guarantee that he stayed in front of Webber.