"Mega job, mega job guys -- as usual," whooped Hamilton over the team radio, dedicating the victory to his watching mother Carmen as a birthday present.
Vettel, who has already clinched this year's title, was pitched off by a puncture at turn two of the opening lap after making a clean start from his record-equalling 14th pole of the season.
The 24-year-old German managed to nurse his Red Bull back to the garage on three tyres and a rim but he was forced to retire once mechanics had surveyed the damage.
The retirement ended Vettel's hopes of matching Michael Schumacher's record of 13 wins in a single season as well as a hat-trick of Abu Dhabi wins. He currently has 11 wins from 2011 with only the Brazilian Grand Prix remaining before the F1 circus calls it a season until the start of winter testing.
It also ended a run of seven podiums and 19 successive points finishes stretching back to last season.
While Vettel was left as a spectator on an evening without a Red Bull driver on the podium for the first time this year, Hamilton drove a controlled and self-assured race that lap by lap lifted his spirits as day turned to night.