FORMULA 1 racer Lewis Hamilton leads the 2011 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after Sebastian Vettel was forced to retire with a puncture on the opening lap.

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Red Bull driver Vettel, starting from pole position, spun off the Yas Marina Circuit as he headed from Turn One towards Turn Two.

The German F1 world champion suffered a rear right puncture and was forced to limp around the remainder of the 5.5km circuit back to the pits.

That journey caused too much damage to the Red Bull’s floor, exhaust and wishbone and Vettel was forced to retire from the race.

Vettel’s first-lap misfortune handed Hamilton, who lined up second on the grid, the lead.

The Herts-born Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver had pulled 2.5 seconds clear of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari after 12 of the race’s 55 laps, with Jenson Button running third and Mark Webber fourth.

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