With the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship crowns wrapped up last weekend in India, you might be forgiven for thinking that Sebastian Vettel would want to take it easy in the final three races of the year, kicking off with this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Think again: the German ace still has plenty of records in sight, and victory this weekend would mark his eleventh of the season and the seventh in a row.
Can anyone stop him in his quest? Let’s preview the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and find out!
2013 FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX
|Date:||1-3 November 2013|
|Venue:||Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates|
|Race Lap Record:||1:40.279, Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing Renault RB5) – 2009|
|Event Schedule:||Free Practice Session 1||Fri 13:00-14:30|
|Free Practice Session 2||Fri 17:00-18:30|
|Free Practice Session 3||Sat 14:00-15:00|
|Race (55 laps, 305.335km)||Sun 17:00-19:00|
|Past Ten Winners:||Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus Renault E20)||2012|
|Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes MP4-26)||2011|
|Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing Renault RB6)*||2010|
|Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing Renault RB5)||2009|
* Denotes victory from pole position
All event times are quoted in Gulf Standard Time (GMT +4).
One of a brace of new venues to hit the Formula 1 calendar in recent years, the Yas Marina circuit looked – on paper at least – to take Grand Prix racing to a glitzier and more glamorous level.
And much of that is true. It has amazing facilities and architecture – its multicoloured Yas Hotel is truly something – a novel underground pit exit, and a twilight setting to make the backdrop all the more stunning.
But in terms of wheel-to-wheel action, the Hermann Tilke designed circuit has been an abject failure. Two crucial areas have come under fire since it made its debut on the calendar in 2009: it poses no challenge to drivers, and it offers next to no overtaking opportunities.
Of the four races held here to-date, three have been absolute snooze-fests, and the addition of new rules and technology have done little to improve the show.
Let’s take a look at our Yas Marina Circuit Guide:
Abu Dhabi Stat Attack
Here are some fast facts about this year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix:
This year’s event will mark the fifth running of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since its debut on the Formula 1 calendar, and the third running with the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships already decided.
The 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has been a championship decider just once, in 2010, where a record four drivers – Fernando Alonso, Vettel, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton – went into the race mathematically capable of winning the championship. Sebastian Vettel nipped through to claim the first of his four consecutive World Championship titles.
Three different drivers and constructors – Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) and Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus) – have claimed victory in the four Grands Prix held here to-date. Vettel and Red Bull Racing are the only multiple winners, claiming victory in 2009 and 2010.
Sebastian Vettel (2010 and 2011) and Lewis Hamilton (2009 and 2012) have shared pole positions honours across the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix’s history. Given that the pair has won 12 of the 16 pole positions contested to-date in 2013, odds are looking strong that one of them will claim a third pole position at the circuit this weekend.
However, pole position is considered rather unlucky here. Despite the circuit’s poor reputation for overtaking, the pole-winner has only one once here (Vettel in 2010) – on the other three occasions, the pole-winner has retired from the race.
The front row is statistically the best place from which to start the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix if you want to win – three of the four races held here have been won from the front row. Kimi Räikkönen’s fourth-placed starting position (in 2012) is the furthest down the grid from which a driver has claimed victory here.
If Sebastian Vettel claims victory here, he will extend his run of consecutive victories to seven, equalling Michael Schumacher’s 2004 record of the most successive wins in a single season. It would also be Vettel’s eleventh win of the year, matching his 2011 tally.
Should either Ferrari finish in the points this weekend, they will break the record for the most consecutive points finishes by any team to 65 races. They currently tie with McLaren on 64 consecutive points finishes.
If Mark Webber achieves an eighth-placed finish or better, he will become the fifth driver in Formula 1 history to achieve more than 1,000 championship points.
If Max Chilton does not retire in this weekend’s race, he will break Tiago Monteiro’s 2005 record of the most consecutive race finishes (16) in a single season. McLaren’s Jenson Button and Sergio Pérez have also both been classified as having completed a minimum of 90% of the race distance of every Grand Prix, but each has had two late-race retirements in 2013.
The Form Guide
The odds favour another Red Bull Racing domination of the weekend, as the RB9 has continued to remain the class of the field since Pirelli updated its tyres ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Vettel has won every race since – with the exception of Hungary – and he’ll settle for nothing less than another win this weekend.
However, Vettel may have to contend with a challenge from the other side of the garage in the form of teammate Mark Webber, who will be desperate to close out his Formula 1 career with a visit to the top step of the podium. The Australian took a gamble of a different strategy in India and – while many believe he would still have been beaten – we were robbed of a tussle for victory when his alternator packed up at mid-distance.
For those not interested in the Red Bull intra-team battle, you should pay attention to the battle for runner-up honours in the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship title.
The latter is looking particularly interesting, with Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus covered by just 28 points with three races to go. Lotus’ resurgence is particularly being driven by the ever-impressive Romain Grosjean, who has bagged a hat-trick of podium finishes and looking well-placed to join the winner’s circle if circumstances allow.
McLaren seems pretty safe in fifth place, but they’re not completely out of the woods after a healthy double-points finish for Force India last weekend. Both Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta showed great skill in driving long stints on well-worn tyres, and they could try the same tactic this weekend, where Pirelli has predicted a two-stop race will be the norm.
Don’t forget to enter your F1 Predictions!
This weekend’s round of our 2013 RichardsF1.com F1 Predictions Competition is now open for business, and you can enter and edit your predictions for the 2013 Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix right up until five minutes before qualifying!
Entry is open to all of our readers, and it’s so easy to submit your predictions! All you’ll need to do is correctly guess:
- which driver will win pole position and the race
- which two teams will earn the best finishes in the race
- which eight drivers will finish in the top-eight positions
- who will post the fastest lap of the race
- who will gain the most positions relative to their starting position
You can also choose to ‘double up’ your points tally for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – but be careful, you can only do this twice per season!
To view the current points standings, click here.
Click here to enter your Abu Dhabi Grand Prix predictions.