Red Bull driver Vettel suffered a puncture early in the first lap, forcing him to throw in the towel for the fist time in 20 races – and Hamilton produced a superb drive to make the most of a rare retirement from the German.
Hamilton’s triumph was his first since the German Grand Prix in July, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso taking second and McLaren’s Jenson Button finishing third. Mark Webber of Red Bull took fourth at the Yas Marina circuit.
“I feel fantastic,” said Hamilton, who held off the challenge of Ferrari’s Alonso. “It’s one of my best races. I said that to myself as I slowed down.
“Being able to hold one of best drivers in the world [Fernando Alonso] is something that is tough to do. I was looking after tyres and managing the gap. The team did a great job with the stops.
“It’s my mum’s birthday this weekend. It’s great to be able to win while she is here.”
Vettel admitted having to watch the race after retiring early on was “tough”. He said: “At the exit of the first corner everything seemed fine but when I turned in I tried to catch the car but I couldn’t do it any more and I spun off. On the way back I damaged the suspension so badly.
“I don’t know what happened. We lost pressure all of a sudden out of the exit of Turn One. I don’t why. There is nothing that I did differently to any of the others laps. We need to find out why, maybe I cut the kerb at a funny angle.
“It is tough, but I used the opportunity to learn a bit on the pit wall.”
1 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren 1hr 37mins 11.886secs
2 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 1:37:20.343
3 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 1:37:37.767
4 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:37:47.670
5 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 1:38:02.464
6 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:38:04.203
7 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP 1:38:27.850
8 Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India 1:38:29.008
9 Paul di Resta (Gbr) Force India 1:38:52.973
10 Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) Sauber-Ferrari at 1 Lap
11 Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari at 1 Lap
12 Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Williams at 1 Lap
13 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Renault at 1 Lap
14 Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams at 1 Lap
15 Jaime Alguersuari (Spa) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 1 Lap
16 Bruno Senna (Bra) Renault at 1 Lap
17 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus F1 at 1 Lap
18 Jarno Trulli (Ita) Lotus F1 at 2 Laps
19 Timo Glock (Ger) Virgin Racing at 2 Laps
20 Vitantonio Liuzzi (Ita) HRT-F1 at 2 Laps
21 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) HRT-F1 48 Laps completed
22 Sebastien Buemi (Swi) Scuderia Toro Rosso 19 Laps completed
23 Jerome d’Ambrosio (Bel) Virgin Racing 18 Laps completed
24 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1 Lap completed
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