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Vettel keeps cool to fulfil destiny

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Andrew Benson | 16:47 UK time, Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sebastian Vettel was choking back tears as he tried to respond to his team's congratulations after he won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to clinch an unlikely first world drivers' title. They were tears of disbelief as much as joy.

The German and his Red Bull car have been the fastest combination on the Formula 1 grid all year but a mixture of driver errors, mechanical failures and pure bad luck had meant that Vettel - who replaces Lewis Hamilton as the youngest world champion in history - had never led the title chase heading into the final race of the season.

Starting from pole position but 15 points adrift of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who was directly behind him on the grid in third place, the title looked a long way away for the 23-year-old.

But Vettel did everything he needed to do by driving a race of cool maturity as things began to unravel for Alonso and Ferrari almost from the start.

A lost place to Jenson Button off the line was a minor inconvenience for the Spaniard, but the title was lost with a catastrophic strategic call to mirror the decision of another championship protagonist, Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber, to stop early for fresh tyres.

It put Alonso back in the pack of midfield runners, breaking the cardinal rule of all F1 strategy moves - keep track position and if you don't make sure you have clear air in which to run at your maximum pace. Stuck behind Renault's Vitaly Petrov, Alonso had neither, and the Ferrari driver was at the mercy of Vettel's result.

Vettel did what he has proved more than capable of all year - made no mistakes when running in the lead, reeling off the laps to the chequered flag.

It was an incredible final twist to end an astonishing season, one that will go down as one of the greatest in F1 history.

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It was the first time four drivers had ever gone into the final race all with a chance of the title - and a fifth, Button, was only knocked out of the reckoning seven days ago in Brazil.

What has made 2010 so compelling was to have so many superb drivers competing in cars that were relatively evenly matched.

For Alonso, Hamilton and Button, though, the season was always a rear-guard battle fighting a faster car in the Red Bull, and they were able to compete only because of the mistakes made by that team and both their drivers.

For all Vettel's stunning qualifying pace and coolness when leading, he is less convincing when not in first place.

He crashed into Webber while trying to pass him for the lead in Turkey, got a puncture at the start in Silverstone after making an ill-advised decision to sit it out around the outside of Webber at the first corner, and inexplicably rammed into Button after losing control behind him in Belgium.

His talent may still have some rough edges, but it is of the highest quality, and he has made a convincing case this season that he can now be considered in the same breath as F1's two benchmarks - Alonso and Hamilton.

Vettel shot to prominence in F1 with his performances for Red Bull feeder team Toro Rosso in 2008, culminating with a brilliant victory in the wet at the Italian Grand Prix.

Back then, his image was all positive. He was young, fast, approachable and had a sense of humour - he was that most unlikely thing, an Anglophile German who liked The Beatles and Fawlty Towers.

Since then, he has displayed a darker side to his character, and the steeliness and ruthlessness all great F1 champions need has been fully in evidence this season as he and Webber have gone toe-to-toe at Red Bull and sparks flew.

It was obvious Vettel was going to be the man to beat this season from the moment he took pole for the first race of the season in Bahrain and led until a spark plug failure handed victory to Alonso.

Vettel lost another victory two weeks later in Australia thanks to a wheel-nut failure and had he won those two races perhaps the pressure would have been off and he would have led comfortably throughout the season.

Thankfully, for the sake of the championship battle, that is not what happened.

Two superb wet-weather wins for Button in the space of three races put him in the lead; Webber took over after dominating in Spain and Monaco; Hamilton took his place at the top after back-to-back wins in Turkey and Canada; Webber took it back; and then it was Alonso's turn after a quite superb late-season run of form.

As Vettel put it on Sunday: "All of us could write a book about races we should have finished in higher positions. We have all had so many ups and downs. It has been a tough season mentally to ignore what people were saying and always get your own thing done."

It has been an intensely competitive year and the pressure on everyone was huge throughout, but Vettel and Red Bull always had the consoling thought that they were the fastest thing on the grid.

Still, though, it had looked as if the drivers' title was going to slip through their fingers. And what appeared as if it was going to be the decisive turning point of the season occurred at the Korean Grand Prix two races ago, when Vettel - under intense pressure from Alonso - suffered an engine failure.

That put Alonso 11 points clear of Webber, and the manic cackle he gave over the radio at the end of the race - a mixture of joy, surprise and disbelief - summed up everything about the Spaniard's unlikely fightback from being 47 points off the championship lead after the British Grand Prix.

In Abu Dhabi, though, Ferrari again found themselves at the mercy of a faster car. Caught between deciding whether to cover Webber's early stop and Vettel disappearing up the road, Alonso's engineers chose what in hindsight was the wrong option. As Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey said after the race, had Alonso stayed out, he would probably have finished fourth. Which would have made him world champion.

Alonso had been adamant before the race that this would have been a great season for him no matter what happened in the championship, and although clearly gutted he stuck to that line after the race.

"If we didn't stop, Webber would probably overtake us; if we stop, we let (Nico) Rosberg and Petrov overtake us," he said. "Very difficult call.

"Next year we try again. But it was [a] very good [season] for me, especially after two years of some difficulties, coming back to winning races, fighting for the championship in the last races.

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"I won five races, I overtook in victories Niki Lauda, Juan Manuel Fangio, some great names, and I'm sure with this team it is very possible to fight for championships in the future, so I am happy."

Forget all the nonsense about team orders at the German Grand Prix, Alonso would have been a fully deserving world champion. In fact, no matter who won it there wasn't going to be a bad one in 2010 and in Vettel there can be no doubt that the sport has a good one.

This is a man who is going to be at the heart of F1 for years to come. There will be many more victories, probably many more titles. And at 23, who knows, even his friend Michael Schumacher's record of seven titles and 91 victories might be vulnerable.

To get there, though, he will have to beat the likes of Alonso and Hamilton, who are not going anywhere in a hurry, as well as Renault's Robert Kubica, a man who this year convinced even his doubters that he will be a major force once he gets his hands on a competitive car.

In 2011, the same top drivers will be with the same teams, and there is every reason to believe it could be just as good as 2010, perhaps even better.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Boring race, satisfactory overall result. Highlight: Alonso throwing his toys at Petrov after the race.

    Thanks for all the articles this season, see you next year.

  • Comment number 2.

    First of all congratulations to Sebastian Vettel on a fully deserved championship. It was only when I heard him squealing over the team radio that I remembered how young he is. He would have won this title a couple of race back had it not been for appaling luck.

    Secondly Alonso and Webber both had shockers, and Alonso actions towards Petrov at the end were despicable. Petrov did nothing wrong and was fighting for his F1 career. I for one am glad that Alonso did not win. The question is though, where does Mark Webber go from here? Surely he has blown his one and only chance of capturing glory.

  • Comment number 3.

    like him or not, you have to say Vettel won the title the right way.Alonso seems to think that Petrov and everyone else ,also should let him by .If you were his PR man you,d weep.Shame the billiard smooth circuit killed passing. a factor in JB doing 39 laps on a 20 lap soft tyre.Alonso,s momentum shifted to the RB man .Pleased to see the 2 Brits on the podium and am counting those 119 days down till battle recommences.


  • Comment number 4.

    Congratulations Vettel. As a passing note this was probably rather a letdown as a race. I can’t help but feel that it would be better to have a Canada/Spa style track as the last race where there are opportunities to overtake and maybe Alonso and Webber could have made more of a race of it.

    Still a great season and can’t wait for next year

  • Comment number 5.

    Fully deserved world champion!

    Can’t fault the man can we, he won it in style?

    Well done Vettel, you silenced your critics!

  • Comment number 6.

    As an Alonso fan, I feel quite devastated this evening, but I must say congratulations to Vettel and RB. They have made the best car and that has won them both championships.
    Ferrari made a mistake today: they covered the wrong man and that cost them the title, but would like to add I feel proud of Fernado. He didn´t have the winning car and yet he was there, fighting until the end.

    It will be a long wait these months ´till we see the cars racing again. Fenomenal season. Great BBC coverage. Ang fab blog. Thank you all.

  • Comment number 7.

    Brilliant season all round and superb coverage by the BBC. Here is looking forward to next season, hopefully in HD...

  • Comment number 8.

    Yet again, Alonso showed what a petulant child he is with his gesticulations at Petrov after the flag. He complained about Petrov defending too aggressively... Drivers aren't supposed to show deference to someone just because they're in a red car, Fernando. Petrov had every right to defend, and hedid so brilliantly.

    Just shows to me exactly why Alonso would NOT be a worthy world champion.

  • Comment number 9.

    Andrew says: "Forget all the nonsense about team orders at the German Grand Prix, Alonso would have been a fully deserving world champion."

    Why is it "nonsense"? None of the other contenders ever had their teammate move aside for them and effectively hand over a win, not least in the middle of the season with plenty still to play for for everyone. Alonso was the only one who had this perverse advantage.

    If Alonso had won by less than 7 pts it would have been a tainted title.

    Eddie Jordan was darn right when he said Red Bull did it the right way. No team orders. Had they asked Vettel to let Webber win in Brazil as some suggested might be wise, it would have cost both of them the title, and rightly so.

  • Comment number 10.

    Where there any stewards watching this Grand Prix? Can't believe Kubia for cutting the white line and Vettel for being wayyyy more than ten car lenghs behind the safety car where never even 'under investigation'

    Not really sure if anyone deserves the title as they all made rookie mistakes (both the drivers and teams) at some point. An exciting season but it just came down to luck in the end.

  • Comment number 11.

    You're right to assert that the only reason Alonso, Button and Hamilton even had a sniff was because of Red Bull's reliability issues and mistakes.

    People say that Vettel deserves it the most because of his reliability issues, but it's these issues that have made the Championship exciting.

    Good season yes; great season no.

    I also think that a lot of the races were made artificially good and the championship artificially close due to a lot of wet races.

    My fear next season is that Red Bull will be reliable as well as fast, and with Vettel as the de facto number 1, they'll just disappear into the distance and without refuelling, there's less opportunity for the other teams to use strategy to beat them.

    If you think about the dry races, Bahrain, Malaysia Spain, Monaco, Singapore, Japan and Abu Dhabi were all fairly boring. Sure they look great on TV, but the action is limited. The season should finish in Interlagos, it produces better racing.

    The BBC coverage is great though, from the TV shows to the classic F1 on the website. Plus no one does montages like the BBC, they really are something special.

  • Comment number 12.

    First of all, congrats to Vettel, he's a most deserving WDC! Personally, I like neither his personality nor his tendency to play dodgems on occasion, but he's still young, and he'll learn. He's done remarkably well to persevere through the technical failures and his own mistakes this season.

    The race itself was rather boring, though - the fact that the Renaults stole the show says it all. I'm surprised you didn't mention McLaren's strategy, Andrew - had Lewis been on the same strategy as Jenson (i.e. pit late rather than early on), he would've come out in front of Kubica and put Vettel under some serious pressure in the second half of the race.

    Feel sorry for Webber. I would have loved for him to snatch it, but his poor performance over the whole weekend shows that the pressure was too much for him. Hopefully, he'll still be around next year, "to have another go," as he himself put it. Top bloke and solid driver.

    Alonso seemed to display his petulance yet again when raising his fist at Petrov after they crossed the finish but, to his credit, admitted the Russian had every right to defend his position. Let's not forget points mean money for the teams.

    Next year has the potential to be even more exciting. Hopefully, McLaren can get their act together and allow Lewis (and Jenson) to mount a stronger title challenge!

  • Comment number 13.

    Excellent F1 season this year!
    Vettel deserves to win the world championship

    Top marks for BBC for giving us excellent coverage of this F1 season and I cannot wait for next year's F1 coverage to be in HD!

  • Comment number 14.

    It had to be Vettel or Alonso, because those two drivers have deserved it since Spa. They have been brilliant. The others have waned since then. Vettel drove the perfect weekend and he edged it. So he deserved it.

    Alonso, well, he is a machine. He won't take this loss too hard as he knows next year he will be a one man team again.

    Webber, well, I think he will take this hard. He knows he is already 2nd in the team, and with their young boy hero taking the crown and him finishing miserably, it's only going to enforce their position. He must be feeling so alone right now.

    Hamilton, well, Mclaren let him down this year.

  • Comment number 15.

    All in all, a great season and I'm so pleased for Vettel and the Red Bull team that they managed to pull off the double.

    Vettel's radio at the end of the grand prix really vindicated the title win for me - it was amazing to hear the emotion in that cockpit, definitely a special moment and quite a contrast to the way Button reacted last year.

    Roll on 2011, I'm already getting excited looking forward to what the designers and engineers are going to come up with for us at the car launches!

  • Comment number 16.

    #10 I think you are mistaken. The safety car lights were off at the time Vettel dropped back.

  • Comment number 17.

    Oh and team orders? Do you not think Webber's stop was a team order? Get him out of the way completely. Plus also hope that Ferrari take the bait?

    Just an idea.

    And shut up about Hockenheim. You can all moan and groan, but look, Alonso didn't win anyway so it doesn't matter.

  • Comment number 18.

    Fab ending to what was a superb F1 season.

    So pleased to see Alonso NOT take the title especially after Germany.

    Also why was he moaning at Petrov - the guy drove one of the best races of his career and he had ever right not to let Alonso pass.

    Feel sorry for Webber as I feel he won't be in the sport next year or indeed racing for Red Bull again.

    Great result for Vettel.

    Shame to see the season end but hey, only 16 weeks or 115 days until the start of the 2011 season.

    Bring on Bahrain!

  • Comment number 19.

    Quote from Twitter:

    Stewards Enquiry: Alonso's car found to be underweight following toys from pram throwing incident after race.

    Best comment ever.

  • Comment number 20.

    well done to vettel,a truly deserving champ and man.alonso and ferrai got what they asked for,but had they shown massa some support they would have been in the hunt for the constructors,they got what they deserved

    mclaren today were disapointing,all year there has been a strange dicisions for hamilton with pitstops and other things,they need to quickly improve their pitstops nearly a second longer for hamilton than vettel thats not good enough
    but a well done to vitali petrov steller race my son,brundle underestimating him form the start when he ended up in front of alonso saying he will buckle under pressure

    and my final note,what a terrible race,the bbc team bleet on about what ecclestone has done and what the middle east and all other countries who have money have done for f1,what boring tracks,boring atomsphere,boring people(no champagne muslim or not) south korea was the best thing to happen this year,a brilliant track ,monaco,valencia,barcalona,hungary,singpore,bahrain,abu dhabi.get them out

    cheers mr benson for your great thoughts and opinions,the bbc team for another year of excellant service(thank you licence fee)except DC get someone not bias ,davidson i think,cant wait for next year

  • Comment number 21.

    Still not conviced by Vettel's driving thruogh traffic, another Damon Hill, good in a fast car, and not always that good.

  • Comment number 22.

    Very pleased for Vettel, he's really matured over the last few races. At least it wasn't Alonso. Brundle's 'get real, son' summed it up when Alonso was gesticulating at Petrov.

    Sad for Webber, he might have blown his one and only chance.

    Hamilton and Button did the best they could, in my opinion. How about that, the two most recent world champions and the brand new world champion on the podium.

    Pleased for Petrov too, I hope that drive cements his position in the Renault team.

    Overall, I think that was a pretty good season. Some of the races weren't amazing (*coughBahraincough*) but I enjoyed it.

    @20, harsh about the tracks and DC.

  • Comment number 23.

    Forgot to mention Rosberg, he's just as good as Kubica in my opinion.

  • Comment number 24.

    I agree with #20, the tracks he/she mentioned never produce good races.

  • Comment number 25.

    Unsatisfactory end to an exciting season. Only consolation, I made a killing at the bookies by predicting Vettel victory in the Championship last week when Webber's engine 'overheated' as he worried the top RB brass by challenging for the lead mid-race (remember all those phone calls in the pit-lane?). That said, congratulations to RB for a great car but I don't think team orders were ever in the equation. Call it sour grapes, but I think that car was evolved to meet Vettel's driving needs as the season progressed (and there are some very interesting articles around to show how that was achieved) and I think Webber was sacrificed today. Nice to see the McLarens up there at the end. Roll on 2011.

  • Comment number 26.

    3rd in the championship - not bad for a number two driver

  • Comment number 27.

    Funny how good old cliches still work. Ever been to Germany Andrew? This place is full of anglophile Fawlty Towers fans and not only Beatles but all kinds of British pop fans. And please keep on not mentioning the war, most unlikely.

  • Comment number 28.

    It was a long hard road and for fans, more ups and downs than the waves of a tornado whipped sea. But in the end: Vettel is World Champion!! That was the most deserved WDC since Raikkonen as I see it. What an awesome young talent and together with both established and up and coming great F1 talents, we are in for years and years of great racing! Congrats to Sebi! His greatest gift: when he smiles, ya just can't help but smile back... CHEERS!!!!

  • Comment number 29.

    Very dissapointing. The wrong person won the championship. Personally I can't stand Vettel and his "finger" and I agree with #25 that Webber was effectively sacrificed today. Not the best way to end the season.

  • Comment number 30.

    Another thing, did anyone see that Kobayashi went off the circuit when Vettel came out of the pits? I know sometimes that gives you time, but if he didn't make that mistake could he have got ahead of Vettel?

    Finally, Legard needs to go. Give Crofty or Davidson a go.

  • Comment number 31.

    the excitment about the world championship seems to distract people from the following facts:-
    - the race itself was shockingly poor and boring; and
    - all future races at the abu dhabi circuit will be equally poor and boring

    this circuit is a shame which should never have been included in the F1 championship.if all circuits were like this one, people would stop watching F1.

    Last year there were 4 (four!) overtaklings in the whole race, this year even less than that, Drivers simply cannot pass one another. Why not save some time and money, get rid of the race completely and let the mechanics compete in a wheels changing competition? simply awful

  • Comment number 32.

    I have watched every gp since 1978. I have read all the books and periodicals too. My enjoyment came from seeing drivers wheel to wheel racing, passing and repassing for position. I never enjoyed pit lane overtaking, and I don't enjoy watching tyre stop strategy.

    Some people enjoy trying to predict the championship every five minutes and equate this unpredictability to excitement, like 'deal or no deal', tv likes to promote false jeapardy as a valid form of entertainment. Some people find crashes exciting, they are mistaken.
    There was zero excitement this afternoon. If you don't believe me, try watching the highlights with the sound down. There is nothing, absolutely nothing. Then watch the classic highlights from 70's or 80's in silence. It is like night and day.

    This is the least exciting conclusion to a WDC I can remember. Unpredictable WDC result yes, but not exciting.

    This gp was boring, again. The current formula has eliminated its fundamental core i.e. passing and repassing, and would benefit from change. Petrov did not stay in front of Alonso because he is a better driver, he stayed in front because it was physically impossible for Alonso to pass. This is a fundamental problem with this sport, can anyone think of any parallels in other sports? It absolutely needs to be changed because the general public will eventually tire of superficiality.

    I am happy that Maaaaaahhhhhhk Webbbbbbbbah didn't win because I feel that an additional WDC for one of the exceptional drivers is better than another 'deserved' also ran like Hill, Villenueve, Raikonnen, Button etc.

    I will not be tuning in next year, or ever.

  • Comment number 33.

    As for the season - exciting moments abounded. I can't help but miss the in race excitment that was more often present when refueling was allowed - so I am for the ban being lifted. Vettel was fantastic of course, but Hamilton also did a stellar job this year as did Alonso in their moments. Everyone made mistakes, so I don't think you can count that against them. Webber I feel went overboard in his off track side show and got very lucky in races at times, but he did show that he is able to handle a top notch car in top qually times and garnering race wins (even when luck was involved, he still had to drive and finish himself). Button also did well, as did rosberg, kubica, hulk, and here at the end, Petrov was showing some very impressive driving (his tendency to lose control being his greatest nemesis - but perhaps with time he can temper that). Schumi got better and better and so look out for him next year. Finally, in the lower cars I was very impressed with Jaime - keep an eye on that one. All in all, great fun, great excitement and a fantastic ending I couldn't have dreamed of!!

  • Comment number 34.

    "What has made 2010 so compelling was to have so many superb drivers competing in cars that were relatively evenly matched."

    Hmm I think its fair to say Red Bull have had a car that has easily been the fastest this year, only a handful of times have Mclaren and Ferrari genuinely had a car capable of competing with them (Canada for Ferrari, Abu Dhabi for both etc). Great blog though, Enjoyed reading them this season, looking forward to 2011!

  • Comment number 35.

    Abu Dhabi for McLaren etc*

  • Comment number 36.

    I am not a Button fan but one has to admire the fact that despite the kamakasi driving of Lewis, Button always manage a Lone Ranger and Tonto act.
    He is nearly always just one step behind.

    They should be congratulated for the way they complement each other.
    Possibly a pairing made in Heaven.

    Goodbye to all contributers, same time next year and have a Merry Christma.

  • Comment number 37.

    Well done Vettel and Red Bull, at least the young German won it fair and square without having Mark move over to give him free victories.

    McLaren were kind of a let-down but 2-3 is a solid result given that the Red Bull has been the best car all year.

    Alonso sulking and throwing his toys at Petrov was a good sight, too bad team orders didn't work on Petrov. Got what he deserved, though Ferrari will be up there next year I guess.

    Congratulations again to Vettel, youngest Weltmeister, well done sone, you've had your hairy moments but at least you delivered when it mattered.

  • Comment number 38.

    Very dull race in truth. Poor end to a great season. I hope they don't finish here again, it's a horrible track where overtaking is nearly impossible. They should move the last race back to Brazil.

  • Comment number 39.

    Well done Vettel, I would have preferred Hamilton as Champion, but anything is better than Alonso!

  • Comment number 40.

    i was laughing at alonso's gestures to petrov after the race. he must have been seeing felipe massa in that renault. but what did he expect him to do? move over? sorry mate, this is formula1. petrov couldnt care less what was going on with the world championship because he was racing for himself and for his career.
    vettel winning... well congrats to him although i'm not a big fan, but i must say that red bull should have clinched both titles a while ago but they didnt thanks to many reliability issues etc.
    people keep on banging on about how vettel should have been miles ahead had it not been for his many different issues this year- well the same can be said about alonso, hamilton, button and webber.
    as for next season i dont think the red bull will be dominant- remember the blown diffuser is being taken away among many other rule changes. so its any one's season for now.
    i hope that mclaren will get their issues together tho- i am a hamilton fan and i would like to see him outclass his competitors like he did to his teammate this season.

  • Comment number 41.

    Congratulations to Vettel - he had by far the best car this season and just did enough to maximize its potential by winning the WDC.
    As the youngest ever World Champion he thoroughly deserves it.
    A pity that Alonso didn't win it, although it has to be said that throughout the season to manage a car that was inferior to the Red Bulls in most aspects was a magnificent achievement.
    Had tactics favoured the Ferraris a little more in the race then it would have been a different story...but this should take nothing away from Vettel.
    I will say this however - whether it was the bump to his head last season or a loss of confidence etc. Massa has been totally inept as a team player throughout. Forget Germany - Massa's contribution towards the Ferrari cause has been nothing short of counter-productive.
    Alonso has managed to haul an inferior car into a position to fight for the title all on his own. Massa's contribution in taking points away from the other competitors throughout has been zero. Even in Abu Dhabi Massa failed to get ahead of Webber when he shadowed his pitstop thus forcing Alonso's hand to pit early and do the job himself. Had Massa managed to control Webber then I'm sure it would have been left for Alonso to concentrate on the 3 frontrunners...
    Hindsight's a beautiful thing, but in the end I don my cap to Vettel - young, humble with a great personality - I look forward to next year.

  • Comment number 42.

    "It was an incredible final twist to end an astonishing season, one that will go down as one of the greatest in F1 history."

    I don't think i've been so disappointed by such a supposedly nail-biting climax to a sporting event. I'm a massive F1 fan, but you can see why people believe it's one of the most overrated sports on the planet.

    Two world title contenders sat behind Petrov for 40-odd laps and why ? BECAUSE F1 CARS CAN'T OVERTAKE !! Take your motor sport tintd glasses off and consider what we saw today.

    Not a gladotorial clash between the top 4 or 5 drivers in the world. Instead we saw the best car win and the rest was about tyre compounds and pit stop timings because of an accident down the field.

    It was all a bit "South Africa World Cup finals" to me.(already forgotten it hadn't you?) Take away the glitz, the big venues, the big sponsors and the hype, and what have you got. Very little i'm afraid.

  • Comment number 43.

    I agree with the rant of number 32. To continually talk about permutations in the 24 hour news coverage style does not mean the racing is exciting.

    The cars close yes; the racing exciting no. Only when there is a sprinkling of rain do the races get exciting.

    Fair enough costs need to be reduced, by this continual homogenising of equipment and stifling of development such as f-ducts means that the cars are clones with little performance difference.

    Today is a case in point. Fair play to Vettel for winning the title, but it has totally overshadowed (perhaps fortunately) what a dire race it was.

    There has got to be something wrong when a better driver in a faster car is incapable of overtaking inferior drivers and cars because of the nature of the track and rules.

    There are too many tracks that are aesthetically pleasing but actually do not produce racing.

  • Comment number 44.

    * but this continual homogenising...

  • Comment number 45.

    I agree with comment #38. Any track where overtaking is next to impossible should NOT host the last race of the season.

  • Comment number 46.

    Superb achievement for Vettel, looking at the season as a whole he was the only one who really deserved to win it.

    His general attitude towards the media and fans has been excellent, a very likeable world champion who I'm sure has a growing British fan base.

    I hope to see a much better showing from Mclaren next year, they haven't really delivered this season.

    Thanks to the BBC, coverage has been top notch once again, especially the 5 Live team who have made practice sessions very watchable.

  • Comment number 47.

    #46, Well said, 5 Live team are superb! Also hoping McLaren can up their game next year.

  • Comment number 48.

    #32 How on earth can you call Raikkonen an also-ran are you insane. Raikkonen should have 3 world titles in his back pocket. 2003, 2005 and 2007. Save your bad comments and keep them to yourself. Unbelievably bad comment.

  • Comment number 49.

    I agree that F1 needs an increase in overtaking. Brazil does need to be moved back to the last race of the season. Very surprised that someone that has been watching since 1978 will not watch next year, that's a dedicated fan for you.

    Please, can't someone organise an event where every driver is in the same car? That would really sort the men out from the boys.

  • Comment number 50.

    Congratulations Vettel, I had hoped Webber would clinch it, but Seb has been the better, and therefore I suppose more deserving, driver over the season (whether or not this is due to the car being developed to suit his style I don't know). Vettel's certainly very quick but I think it's bit early to put him up with Hamilton and Alonso, as he clearly had the fastest car all season. Certainly got a lot of potential though.

    It's bad enough that Alonso thinks any team mate he races with should move over and let him passed, but expecting the rest of the field to do so is just too much. He needed to make a kamikaze move at in the last few laps, but just wasn't prepared to do it. Yes, without the poor (in hindsight) strategy he probably would have won, but all the front runners have suffered bad luck (and strategy) through the season, this is just highlighted because it was in the last race.

    Well done to Hamilton, he made a couple of errors through the season (as did everyone else), but he's now raced with two World Champions at McLaren and beaten both. A slightly improved car will see more titles in the near future I'm sure.

  • Comment number 51.

    Has nobody even smiled at comment 19? :P

  • Comment number 52.

    As a huge Seb fan.. this race was really exciting for me... I was at the edge of my seat during qually and the race, I was sweating, I have no finger nails left.. I was screaming at Kubica to keep going and get that gap to Alonso up to 22 seconds... I was praying that Petrov didn't make errors. I cried when I heard Vettel on the radio to his team and on the podium... This just brought back to me all the emotion I had when I saw Schumacher win his first WC...

    Well done Sebastian Vettel, you keep it your cool when those around you was losing theirs.. Bring on the Bull next year

    Yeah Baby Yeah!!!

  • Comment number 53.

    @36 - Yeah I think they make a good team, they can both score big points (good for constructors), but I don't think there will be too much conflict as Hamilton is generally faster.

    Kubica should move to Ferrari, and then if Mercedes up their game a bit, we could have even more drivers vying for the title next season!

  • Comment number 54.

    Just think, if Renault make a better car and Mercedes improve, we could have 5 teams fighting for it!

  • Comment number 55.

    For everyone who believes that Abu Dhabi isn't the best final race and Brazil would be a better choice (I have to agree with you), seems the FIA thinks the same way as the provisional calender for 2011 will see the season end at Interlagos not Abu Dhabi!

  • Comment number 56.

    " Please, can't someone organise an event where every driver is in the same car? That would really sort the men out from the boys."


    You're joking, right? There are several classes of racing where this is the case. Formula Ford, the Porsche Supercup, the Renault Clio Cup, and so on.

  • Comment number 57.

    @56 But the drivers in F1 aren't racing in those series.

    By 'an event' I meant just a one-off.

  • Comment number 58.

    good season I think. Long wait untill next year. RB and the vet did a good job but I feel sad for MW. I am very glad a certin Mr Alonso did not win. Why do team orders have to be a part of this sport? I have heard people since the swap talk about how its been a part of the sport since day one. So was death and young men being burned alive in cars. Doesnt make it acceptable now tho does it. I think the LH will win again he is what I want to watch on tv. and I agree with the comments above about the tracks. they can be a pain but if its over taking you want then there is plenty of other types of racing to watch that will provide. I think that they need to lighten up with the regs. far to tight. hope that the proposed changes next year have the desired effect. next year top 3 in no order(wait untill testing for that) the vet, hammy and a certin MR Alonso who we all love.

  • Comment number 59.

    Blimey… how many saw that one coming?

    It was always Red Bull's championship to lose and I thought they'd done precisely that at the start of the race. No way could Alonso finish lower than fourth at a track where it seems almost impossible to pass. With Webber behind him that was it… end of race and a third world championship!

    Deadly-dull as a spectacle, nevertheless, it turned into a riveting scenario as it became clear that Alonso was just not going to have it easy with Petrov.

    Vettel did precisely what he's best at, driving off into the distance from pole – not having to pass anyone, so no mistakes – and with Kubica's Renault also playing a significant role, unfortunately Hamilton wasn't going to get a look-in and make a race of it.

    Button nicely (though maybe not intentionally) backed-up Alonso while looking after his tyres. Webber? Not one of his most convincing performances and one has to say that, with the exception of Button, you rarely see the other top drivers' performances see-saw as much as his – Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton are 'on it' or they 'stuff it'.

    Ferrari made a major tactical error but it shows just how competitive F1 is when a safety car on lap one can allow mid-fielders in with a shout… just that the shout wasn't loud enough for Ferrari to hear.

    I'm still not 100% convinced about Vettel as champion – he's not the finished article and still hasn't proved that he can battle for the lead successfully – but then all the four drivers with a chance in this race have made major errors during the season.

    From a personal point of view, the season has been more fascinating for its twists than for actual race excitement. It's good to see a new champion and good for Formula 1 that a two-car team has won the championship… in the world's most competitive sport, I dislike intensely seeing anything handed on a plate.

  • Comment number 60.

    Also, I know about those series. I was only suggesting it for the F1 competitors as a one-off event.

  • Comment number 61.

    Tell me what's the use in spending billions on a fancy looking race track, that is nigh-on impossible to overtake!?

    It was a shame that the climax of the season, was actually a pretty poor race.

    Well done Vettle though fastest driver in the fastest car wins out!

    Brazil needs to be the final race in coming seasons, or similar.

  • Comment number 62.

    Great Race, Great Champion! Well deserved win, Vettel always had the hallmarks of a Champion. Well done to all the drivers, it was a great year!

    Does anyone know the music that was played in the credits at the end?


  • Comment number 63.

    I would have loved to see the qualifying and the race with Vettel driving Webbers car and viceversa. But this is what happens when you are driver number two.

  • Comment number 64.

    does no one else think that Red Bull cleverly (cynically) put Webber on a strategy that wrecked both his and Alonsos title hopes. Who says all drivers are treated equally (well) at Red Bull......

  • Comment number 65.

    Great drive and season by Vettel, I'm stunned to see people saying he didn't deserve it, I can't see why not. Webber had his chance to close it out in Korea and blew it. Vettel drastically improved as the season went on, his ability to follow cars still has room for improvement but there's no denying that he may well be the fastest on the grid. I'm happy to have seen him take the title, people always talk about Hamilton breaking Schumacher's records but the British media frequently forget about the other young guys like Vettel, that's one towards his challenge and he's younger, the top 2 most successful drivers in F1 may well turn out to be Germany's only world champions. As for the comment about Vettel's "number 1 finger", you say he needs to grow up, I'd bet my house you don't complain when Hamilton does it.

    Alonso was out of order with his gestures to Petrov, no question, but to be fair I think I'd be as frustrated as he was being stuck behind someone and effectively losing the championship because of it. He's been mighty this second half of the season and deserved that title as much as Webber despite what the "anyone but Alonso or Vettel" brigade want to believe while trying to balance on their Hockenheim high horse. You don't want teams to give out orders, I suggest you watch something else like the javelin, no team orders there so I think it suits you perfectly. As for Alonso there is no more complete driver out there, he's fast, can overtake, consistent, builds up a team and handles pressure. He'll be up there again next season whether the car's the fastest or not.

    A few mentions for other drivers:
    Kubica needs no mention, he just needs a car now.
    Rosberg was exceptional, best of the rest. Like Kubica, he just needs a car to match his talent.

  • Comment number 66.

    "Final race of the year, 4 possible winners... Alonso needs to pass Petrov, Hamilton needs to pass Kubica, Webber needs to pass Alonso... Oh, wait... They can't, coz they lose grip every time they try to get near...Anyway fans, what an exciting season!!" ???

    Where do these commentators and experts get the fun from? The politics? The rivalries? The mistakes? The accidents? The expectation built before the race? I know what many would say: Didn't you see the countless overtakes this year? Yeah, sure I saw... Now tell me how many of them happened among the main contenders when not due to mistakes... mmmmm... nearly none.

    Special thanks Hamilton for trying harder than anybody else and even getting it right. I couldn't care less bout who won the Championship. If it was a popularity contest, Hamilton would have my vote (and for the record, I think Alonso is better, though not as fun to watch).

    Anyway, hats off to Vettel. Happy for him and for Red Bull. I guess the movie version will add all the excitement I missed in this grand finale.

  • Comment number 67.

    What has been made abundantly clear this season is that Hamilton will never win any championship with Whitmarsh as team principal, how many times have we said this season Hamilton has been given a doggy strategy!

  • Comment number 68.

    @64. i think they called mark in because he wrecked his tyres when he touched the wall!!

  • Comment number 69.

    I'm genuinely pleased for Vettel, and the sponsors who need to buy or sell TV advertising in Germany. It's also good news for F1. Even the Spanish and UK interests had their hopes fluffed until the end.

    But that's another potential source of disbelief, isn't it?

  • Comment number 70.

    Tense race, but little overtaking, again...

    THE FASTEST MAN ALL SEASON IN THE FASTEST CAR WON. Took his time, but Vettel got there in the end. Well done! (though still peeved off he took Button off in Spa...)

    Webber wilted. Such a shame. Extremely disappointed in his last race performance, but good on him for almost getting there. Hope he survives...

    Hamilton tried, as always, but couldn't pass Kubica...

    Alonso's poor strategy stuffed it, and he couldn't pass Petrov... And Alonso showed once again what an egotistical wee little boy he is at the end. After Alonso's fist waving it looked like Petrov was going to side-swipe Alonso, as if to say, 'Sod off'. I think a lot of us globally would have clapped. Also, did you catch Ferrari's whussy, sphincter-kissing radio messages to Alonso, always soothing and placating his huge ego...? Shameful, really shameful. Enzo Ferrari would have been embarrassed. The driver works for the team, not the team for the driver, if you know what I mean.

    Button... sometimes I've been really disappointed in him, as well as for him, but he wasn't always miles behind Hamilton, and drove some great racing. Hopefully they'll rub off on each other more. Hamilton will learn patience, strategy and smooth tyre-saving racing. Button must learn how to put his foot down, even if he doesn't have 100% consensus with his car.

    Rosberg, Kubica and Kobayashi were the other drivers to watch out for next year. Till then, thanks to the teams behind the drivers (esp. the true 'gods' such as Adrian Newey and Ross Brawn), and the teams behind the BBC presentation and website - yes, even Jake, who does a brill job as anchor man. Cheers fellow fans, and your many insights on this blog, which have helped pass the interminable time between races. Have a lovely xmas, see you next year.

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 72.

    Bluff 70, Hamilton has to learn nothing from Button, do you want him to be as slow as Button? Why oddly can't anyone else see that Hamilton's pitstops are always slower than Buttons, today Hamilton's was 4.4 sec and button 3.9 I haven't seen one pitstop in which Hamilton's was quicker than buttons all season long!

  • Comment number 73.

    @49: They did, it was called A1. And from my limited recollection, it was very dull.

    I actually enjoyed this race. There wasn't a massive amount of overtaking on display, but I've slowly accepted that overtaking in F1 is simply nigh-on impossible. It is admittedly odd that the way the cars are set up effectively discourages overtaking, and I don't think that KERS is the answer, but hey, everyone involved makes too much money to care what fans on a BBC blog think. Does that sound defeatist? Not really. I expect there to be bad refereeing decisions in football that mess with the result, but it doesn't stop me watching it. This was intruiging for other reasons; was nobody else just sitting there waiting for Vettel's engine to go, ala Korea?

    Vettel is a worthy champion. Had things turned out slightly differently, he would have been clear of the rest of the field ages ago anyway, and overall this season he's most certainly performed the best (albeit in the best car). It's not his fault that he's the darling of his team, and what's he going to do? Say "Don't favour me, let's favour Mark for a bit to get the media and public off our backs?" No way. His overtaking skills are a little suspect and he does have a tendency to make questionable decisions when in the pack and under pressure, but he's very quick and didn't put a foot wrong today. I feel for Mark, but when it came down to it he stuck it in the wall at Korea and didn't deliver this weekend. Only himself to blame, really. Alonso had a great second half of the season but just wasn't to be, Lewis did well in a car that was never really consistently the fastest and will get plenty more chances.

    Looking forward to next season already! Hopefully Red Bull's advantage will have been wiped out by the other teams, and I also hope Mercedes are in the mix too. Would love to see Schumi get a win. Oh, and surely Kubica should replace Massa at Ferrari? Don't get me wrong, Massa's a nice guy, but he's never going to be WC. Desperately unlucky in 2008, but I don't think he'll get that close again. Then again, maybe it helps the balance of the team to have a clear 'leader'.

    One final point: I'd just like to thank everybody involved in the BBC's coverage this year. A combination of ITV's amateurish approach and Schumacher dominance meant I'd really gone off this sport in the mid-00s; this year I've tried to follow as much of the season as possible and I've found it fantastic viewing. The coverage felt far much more intimate and, well, fun, than ITV ever managed, and everyone involved should be massively proud of themselves. As that closing credits montage came to a close I'm not ashamed to say I had a tear in my eye. Roll on F1 2011!

  • Comment number 74.

    "I am still going to win the WC" (Alonso half way though the season). If he hadn't of made that foolishly arrogant boast he may well have won it today. Karma, fate, whatever you want to call it was against him from the moment he said that. Yes, he came so close but it was taken from him at the very last. Should have kept his gob shut, and not angered the F1 fate gods!

  • Comment number 75.


    There already is a one-off event where the best drivers in the world compete against each in equal machinery, it's called the Race of Champions!

    I went to see it in 2007 at Wembley Stadium and saw Schumi, Vettel, Loeb, Button, Priaulx, Coulthard, Kovalainen, Grönholm, Solberg, Kristensen, Ekström amongst others racing against each other in equal machinery.

    BTW This years event is on 27th-28th November and you can usually watch it online for free!

    @73 A1GP actually had very good racing, it was just badly run.

  • Comment number 76.

    Have to agree with the comments on Alonso's sportsmanship or lack of. The Alonso apologists will defend him for certain, but had Hamilton done that to Petrov or Kubica, he would have been crucified by them.

    It was a boring race, with the only excitement down to the fact it was deciding the driver championship. We need circuits and cars that can overtake, lets hope next year we get that with KERS and moveable rear wings.

  • Comment number 77.

    Jake, or somebody, please rein in Mr Jordan. Martin Brundle's grid walks used to be great but ever since he's been accompanied they have failed and today was the worst yet. Why Bernie Ecc didn't thump Mr Jordan for upsetting the host I don't know. Martin, go it alone, please. Good result tho.

  • Comment number 78.

    Alonso's gestures weren't to my liking.

    And yes, I had heard of the Race of Champions. It's just that Hamilton/Rosberg/Kubica/Alonso don't compete in it. :P

  • Comment number 79.

    Alonso's reaction to Petrov at the end of the race was wrong and I suppose it just showed his frustration at being stuck behind Petrov for most of the race. Luckily, he redeemed himself slightly when he admitted that Petrov had every right to defend his position. Anyway, plenty here have highlighted this, so I have nothing to add.

    Curiously, nobody has mentioned that, in spite of the fact that the team made the wrong decision when he was brough to pit early, and this most definitely cost him the championship, he had no word of complaint against them. On the contrary, he defended their decision. That to me shows what class he is.
    I hope Ferrari will be able to give him the car he deserves next year.

  • Comment number 80.

    Totally agree with regard EJ the man is a buffoon, he managed to get Red Bulls owner for an interview, and never asked him a question, the man just bloody waffles, rant over!

  • Comment number 81.

    I remain convinced that Massa took out Hamilton at Monza.
    He employed the same manoeuvre here at Abu.
    This time Lewis had room to escape, albeit he had to demolish a bollard.

    The mentality could be analysed in a number of ways.
    The conclusion would be the same.

  • Comment number 82.

    anemonae -

    "I remain convinced that Massa took out Hamilton at Monza.
    He employed the same manoeuvre here at Abu.
    This time Lewis had room to escape, albeit he had to demolish a bollard.

    The mentality could be analysed in a number of ways.
    The conclusion would be the same."

    Maybe I'm dumb but I do hope you are a wind-up merchant!?

    Hamilton admitted Monza was his fault and he ran into Massa.

  • Comment number 83.

    I think DC and EJ might have had some disagreeing behind the scenes, in the forum he totally slated EJ and was like 'explain yourself for the first time this season for god's sake!'

    EJ didn't look happy.

    They must have been alright afterwards though.

  • Comment number 84.

    "In the beginning, there was racing. And the drivers did pass and re-pass each other on the same lap, and the disciples did verily moisten their loin-cloths, and the news was shed abroad of the mighty battles of the Villeneuve-arnoux and the Senna-mansell.
    And it came to pass that no longer did the drivers pass and re-pass each other on the same lap, instead they placed their faith in the false gods, the gods of the pit lane strategy. And the first disciples wept, while the new disciples danced their tiny dances.
    And in the last, dark days the lords of the sacred laws did brake the false, fallen gods of the pit lane strategy leaving them powerless before the new gods; the prophets. And the prophets forsook the racing, and the passing and re-passing on the same lap, and they prophesied ceaselessly and unendingly about the drivers' mathematical probabilities.

    And the first disciples rent their colthes, and the second disciples danced no longer - but wept with the first. And the new third young disciples sang a new song of love for the endless prohpecies, never knowing the passing and the re-passing on the same lap, or the pit lane strategies. And the third disciples despised in their hearts the return of the messiah in those days and worshipped the holy Ham of God and placed their faith in empty Vettels."

  • Comment number 85.

    You talk about petulance and yet half these comments are as always alonso bashing. You little kids are making these blogs almost unbearable to read, grow up you pathetic excuses for human beings and treat everyone as equals.  

    As for his gestures towards petrov, you try driving that car and not feeling any emotions. It's ok for any other driver to raise the hand, it doesn't even get on camera! Nando in the 3rd fastest car nearly nicked it and deserves more respect than you tabloid reading xenophobes are giving him

  • Comment number 86.

    Second best result to hope for - wanted Mark to win the championship but Seb deserves it as he's put in some superb performances this year. So glad that whinging cheat Alonso was nowhere near - I'm amazed he can get his helmet on his head is that big!
    Congrats Vettel, Red Bull & Webber, Hamilton & Button for a great season. Oh and I don't think Petrov held up Alonso - if he's good he would have got past. PETROV is faster than you FERNANDO :)

  • Comment number 87.

    "I remain convinced that Massa took out Hamilton at Monza.
    He employed the same manoeuvre here at Abu.
    This time Lewis had room to escape, albeit he had to demolish a bollard.

    The mentality could be analysed in a number of ways.
    The conclusion would be the same."

    Maybe I'm dumb but I do hope you are a wind-up merchant!?

    Hamilton admitted Monza was his fault and he ran into Massa.

    You should know by now that Hamilton has to avoid banana peels.
    He is well skilled in PR.

  • Comment number 88.

    I'm certainly no little kid or tabloid reading xenophobe, don't stereotype people who make valid observations. I fully understand emotions run high, but petulance can be subjective, as I said before Hmilton would have been crucified on this blog had he done the same.

  • Comment number 89.

    Totally agree that the AD track is very poor...layout offers zero challenge and interest, joint worst with Valencia. That said, the race wasn't that bad, and for me this season has been the best since 2003 for actual 'race' action...Bahrain was the only genuine procession, the rest all had action one way or another...really enjoyed it.
    As a final thought on track design, all Tilke tracks are designed with a hairpin-straight-hairpin (which is always smooth and flat) combination to create overtaking. Well year in year out the most overtaking for my money happens at Brazil...combination = a 3rd gear 90degree corner, uphill curving acceleration zone into pit straight, downhill braking into S bend, curving acceleration zone into straight into 3rd gear sweeping bend, again curved acceleration zone, hint hint!!. Maybe just maybe this should be considered as to why it works so well???!!! I mean, 1 week ago, Alonso couldn't have stayed behind Ham and Hulk if he needed too!! Today, no chance to pass whatsoever...there's alot of very smart people missing some insanely obvious things relating to circuit design.

    Great season and love F1 no matter what :-)

  • Comment number 90.

    1- Great entry here today by Andrew Benson. He has correctly and accurately encapsulated the drivers title fight that in the end went to a deserving Sebastian Vettel. So, job well done Mr. Benson.

    2- That race aside from the championship drama was unbearably boring. The fact that drivers in top cars could not managed to get around lesser cars is a very damming verdict of the problems facing F1.

    3- Fernando and Ferrari did a fantastic job coming so close in their first season together. I'm very proud of him and look forward to them chasing history together in the future.

  • Comment number 91.

    Well done Sebastian Vettel

  • Comment number 92.

    Mclaren do not deserve Lewis Hamilton, Whitmarsh will ensure that Hamilton does not win any WDC!

  • Comment number 93.

    I wanted one of the Red Bulls to win the WDC simply because that would mean we would have another champion on the grid.

    Ideally though I wished it could have been Mark Webber, but his weekend started to go wrong in qualifying and went downhill from there.

    Equally though I couldn't have begrudged Alonso winning either. He did fight back brilliantly in the second half of the year to show what F1 champions are made of. I know the spectre of Hockenheim looms large and although I didn't agree about the way Ferrari conducted themselves in Germany, the fact was that although Felipe was mathematically still in the championship he would have to have won several races and relied on the leading runners dropping out a few times.

    As for the race itself. The Safety Car in my opinion was deployed too early. It should have been deployed when the leader entered the final corner so it didn't have to wait. A second train of thought is why didn't they just use the shortcut for the rest of the race. Use the SC for a lap or two to clear Michael and Tonio's cars and then bring it back in the pits and the F1 cars use the shortcut

  • Comment number 94.

    Valid observations? Yes because one small thing after the race which nando even retracted in his interview is really the key thing to be talking about about the race? Half these comments are about it as well as how it apparently gives people the justification for hating him. Give it a rest, you no different. I have avoided 606 because I can image there are a million smug fools enjoying tonight very much, I was hoping this blog might attract people of a bit more class

  • Comment number 95.

    @92, really? Now that's just mad.

  • Comment number 96.

    Yes Lewis did slate the Mclaren strategies in the past and get a fair bit of stick, why the hell is it always Alonso
    v Lewis? Nando has had a good season and the past is the past

  • Comment number 97.

    Then again, most people on the forum are making mad comments.

  • Comment number 98.

    95 What evidence do you have on the contrary!

  • Comment number 99.

    • You talk about petulance and yet half these comments are as always alonso bashing. You little kids are making these blogs almost unbearable to read, grow up you pathetic excuses for human beings and treat everyone as equals.

    As for his gestures towards petrov, you try driving that car and not feeling any emotions. It's ok for any other driver to raise the hand, it doesn't even get on camera! Nando in the 3rd fastest car nearly nicked it and deserves more respect than you tabloid reading xenophobes are giving him
    Quite agree with you Vamos. All the Alonso haters out in force again. In reality all these people jumping on the Vettel bandwagon are the same people, who slated him and preferred MW to win the championship, if not their idol Lewis, me me me, everybody is against me, I am the best F1 driver Hamilton could win. Read @ 86 and you get the message.

  • Comment number 100.

    @98 Give me your evidence first.


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