Abu Dhabi Grand Prixview

By on Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Indian Grand Prix promised much yet delivered little and after the third processional race in a row, the sport heads to Abu Dhabi and a circuit that is more famous for having a hotel than decent Formula One action. There’s a real possibility that a year that begun with seven different winners in seven races will end with the same man winning the final seven events as Sebastian Vettel bids to extend his winning streak to five and maintain his grip on the 2012 championship.

History

Abu Dhabi debuted on the calendar in 2009, with two men having so far dominated proceedings at the Yas Marina Circuit. Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have shared the pole positions and victories in the three visits F1 has made to the circuit, with Vettel’s win in 2010 securing him his maiden world championship. None of the three races have been particularly thrilling, with just one Safety Car period when Michael Schumacher spun and was collected by Tonio Liuzzi in 2010. Last season, Vettel spun off on the opening lap courtesy of a puncture, allowing Hamilton to cruise to the win.

 

The Circuit

It isn’t a circuit that is much loved by racing fans. The first few sweeping corners are interesting, but paying the price for getting them wrong is a trip across the run-off area. Two long straights should provide ample overtaking opportunities but they don’t, with the off camber nature of some of the corners proving an irritation rather than an assistance. The final sector of the circuit has a street nature feel to it, as the driver pass underneath the Yas hotel and avoid the barrier on the exit of Turn 19. Aside from the illuminated hotel, the most intriguing part of the circuit is the underground pit exit, although no-one has come to grief there just yet.

What might happen?

Sebastian Vettel has won the previous four races and his record at Yas Marina is strong: he won in 2009 and 2010 and was on pole in 2011 when his tyre failed. He could be joined at the front by Lewis Hamilton, but overall grid position will be vital to the outcome of the race, especially if everyone gets through the first lap without the need for a safety car. The two DRS zones should help overtaking, but if the 2011 race is a barometer, the faster driver will just end up re-passed by the slower driver through the second of the allocated zones. The race begins at sunset and races through the twilight into the dark and this will affect how drivers use their tyres. However, there shouldn’t be any major issues as both the teams and Pirelli have a lot of data from the track due to the amount of testing that occurs at Yas Marina; a one or two stop strategy appears likely.


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