Vettel beats a path from pit lane to podium

Sun Nov 4, 2012 1:48pm EST
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By Alan Baldwin

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel showed the mark of a true champion in charging from pit lane to podium at the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix on Sunday.

Starting last, the 25-year-old German never doubted he could be a contender after being sent from third place on the grid to the pit lane for a fuel infringement in qualifying.

By the end of a chaotic and crash-strewn evening, the double world champion stood on the podium in third place while title rival Fernando Alonso was second for Ferrari behind race winner Kimi Raikkonen.

Vettel's championship lead, which would have passed into the Spaniard's hands had he failed to score, was trimmed from 13 points to 10 with two races remaining and left the German in a position to seal his third title in Texas in two weeks' time.

"He's mentally incredibly strong," team principal Christian Horner told reporters as mechanics packed up around the paddock.

"Before the race I went to see him in his room to wish him good luck and he was in there playing a drum kit with his trainer and he said, 'I'll see you on the podium'.

"He was the one guy in the briefing room last night, while the rest of us were ready to slit our wrists, who was saying 'It's not an issue. We can still do this'.

"It's that mental strength that he has that is one of his biggest assets."   Continued...

Lotus F1 Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany llift their trophies after the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit on Yas Island November 4, 2012. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem