From India the F1 circus barely has time to draw breath in preparation for this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina.
One of the great visual circuits on the calendar, no expense was spared on this incredible venue with it’s hotels, huge grandstands and even an underground pit-lane. Few races have the backdrop of Abu Dhabi yet more have produced exciting races.
That is where this $1bn circuit let’s itself down, for all the money that was spent, Hermann Tilke did a poor job in actually designing it, whether the track was designed around the landmarks or the landmarks designed around the track it is hard to say, however there is not much positive that can be said.
Much of the track resembles a wide open street circuit with a mix of chicanes and 90 degree turns and the flow of the layout is poor as well with the final sector around the hotel not matching the rest of the circuit.
With it’s long straights into tight chicanes the track should be a haven for overtaking, but again despite best efforts and even DRS, getting past another driver on this track is difficult.
Yas Marina has been responsible for some defining moments however from Sebastian Vettel’s first championship back in 2010 to Kimi Raikkonen’s first win since his return for Lotus last year, however Vettel is very much a master of this circuit and could have won all four races here if not for a puncture on lap 1 in 2011 and starting at the back of the grid last year.
This race shares a lot with Singapore’s Marina Bay, not only is the Abu Dhabi round the only twilight race starting just before sunset and finishing at night, but the circuit with it’s slow turns demands excellent traction.
That is why I think Vettel could easily storm to another easy win this year - we all remember how dominant he and his Red Bull was in Singapore and so certainly it will be hard to bet against him.
Lotus will also challenge, after winning here last year the team certainly like the circuit and with Romain Grosjean in the form of his life and Kimi the winner from 2012 they will look to take advantage in their battle for second in the Constructor’s Championship.
Most fans are pointing at Lewis Hamilton as a potential winner this weekend however I’m not convinced. Traction is where the Mercedes falls back compared to it’s rivals as was particularly evident in Singapore so I think they will be in a battle with Ferrari and McLaren this weekend in the middle to lower half of the top ten.
Force India, Toro Rosso and Sauber will continue their battle for sixth in the standings. The double points finish for Force India in Delhi boosted their advantage to 23 points over Sauber which with just three races to go, which could be enough to have that place secure.
Toro Rosso are thirteen points behind the Swiss team and will be needing to beat Nico Hulkenberg if they want to catch them.
Williams’ struggles continue while Caterham and Marussia also have a very close battle going on, while it means little in terms of the championship, the four cars have been separated by less than a second for much of the season, and while Abu Dhabi doesn’t give much hope for them beating the 13th place Marussia managed early in the season it’s a battle to enjoy.
Back at the front however and with the championships now done the gloves can come off, some of the most entertaining races come when the race win is the most important thing up for grabs and as a result we can look forward to an exciting weekend in the desert at Abu Dhabi.
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