2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Formula 1 ventures back to the Gulf and this weekend sees the action resume once again with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. one of just three race left to decide the fate of the 2012 F1 season.

On the back of four straight wins, Sebastian Vettel has plenty of momentum to claim a third successive title. But as Fernando Alonso showed, his Ferrari still has plenty of race pace to challenge the Adrian Newey-designed machine that is so artfully exploited by Vettel.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the RichardsF1.com Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Preview…

The Circuit

Yas Marina Circuit
Date: 02-04 November 2012
Venue: Yas Marina International Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Lap Length: 5.554km
Race Lap Record: 1:40.279, Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull Racing 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
Qualifying Sat 17:00-18:00
Race (55 laps, 305.355km) Sun 17:00-19:00
Past Winners: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes MP4-26) 2011
Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing Renault RB6) 2010
  Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing Renault RB5) 2009

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.

Abu Dhabi produces some seriously processional Grands PrixAnd much of that is true. It has amazing facilities and architecture – its multicoloured Yas Hotel is truly something – a novel 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.

The three races held here to-date – all won in convincing lights-to-flag demonstrations – have been absolute snooze-fests, and the addition of new rules and technology have done nothing to improve the show.

Let’s take a look at our Yas Marina International Circuit Guide:


Yas Marina Talking Points

So what do the RichardsF1.com readers and contributors think will happen this weekend?

Yassmin Abdel-Magied, RichardsF1.com Journalist

“Aren’t the closing weeks of the season simply delicious? These past couple of weeks have given us plenty to talk about and contemplate — is Vettel seriously going to secure another Championship? Will Alonso find it in the Ferrari to challenge the youngster?  This will definitely be a make or break race for Alonso and Ferrari… Speaking of, given Vettel’s very adamant denial of being involved in talks with Ferrari, you have to wonder if in fact he will move to Ferrari at some point – ‘he doth protest too much’ perhaps?

“Will finally we see Lotus’s long deserved first win?  Kimi’s sticking on for another year at least, so he is clearly confident in the Enstone Team’s capacity to deliver, but will it deliver this year? 

“Either way, I would like to see a bit of action this race — we can only live in hope that the rest of the grid )c’mon McLaren, Lotus, Ferrari… hell, even c’mon Williams!) can challenge the young golden boy and give us a little bit of excitement for these last few races!

  Josh Kruse
Josh Kruse, RichardsF1.com Writer

“Last week in India, Fernando Alonso reminded us just how relentless he can be by throwing his Ferrari around the Buddh International Circuit, fighting with the McLarens in an epic first-lap battle, eventually disposing of them along with the struggling Webber later on in the race. Surely if Alonso had have qualified in a better position or passed Webber earlier on in the race, Vettel’s win wouldn’t have been a certainty and we would have had a more interesting race.

“Going to Abu Dhabi, it’s hard to see Red Bull falter this late in the season, although it will be interesting to see how Adrian Newey goes about his set-up in preparation for the two long, high speed straights that the Yas Marina circuit holds.”

Matt Lennon, RichardsF1.com IndyCar Correspondent

“Sebastian Vettel appears to be ending the 2012 season the same way he started the 2011 season, with a string of wins. And for a season that saw seven different winners in the first seven races, this run that now stretches to four on the trot for Vettel makes his latest form all the more difficult to believe.

“But now with only three races left, should he claim another win and extend the streak to five, it should set him up for a progressively easier run to the title by the time the final lap in Brazil comes to a close. The rest of the field must be wondering what they have to do to stop him, no less than Fernando Alonso.

Samuel McCrossen, 
‘The Qualifying Lap’ radio show host on Edge 99.3FM

“So the incredible Hulkenberg is off to Sauber. Not a bad move I must say. Some are saying it is a sideways move rather than a progressive move; however I think it is the risk he needs to take in order to kick start his F1 career. After a stellar junior career, for some reason the Hulk has become somewhat of an invisible man in F1, with some commentators almost dismissive of his talents. The man who shaped up nicely against Rubens Barrichello in their year together at Williams in 2010 (including a brilliant pole position in Brazil), fell behind his Force India team mate Paul di Resta at the start of the year; but since the halfway point of the season he has come back like last night’s pizza. It’s neck and neck between the two with Hulkenberg having scored 49 point this season to di Resta’s 44. The winner in the points battle will take a psychological advantage over the other for the rest of their careers. Abu Dhabi is the first race of a mini championship between the two, with Hulkenberg having a 5-point head start. My moneys on the Hulk. Look out for him in the top-six in Abu Dhabi; and look out for him in next year’s Sauber too, when he will show everyone what he’s made of – green stuff!”

Ben Waterworth, RichardsF1.com Feature Writer & ‘The Qualifying Lap’ radio show host on Edge 99.3FM

“I’m officially dubbing season 2012 as the ‘bi-polar F1 season’. Such an amazing start with seven different winners from the first seven races to a pretty stock standard affair towards the end, those glorious races of the start of this season seem a distant memory as we have seemingly been transported back 12 months to the Vettel/Red Bull domination of 2011. And it’s impossible to really see anything changing in the remaining rounds as we enter three tracks that should prove how dominant the cars from Milton Keynes really are. Abu Dhabi is a glamorous track that is fun to race on (with my vast racing experience being limited to video games of course!) but generally a snooze to watch on TV. I can only hope that it will at least provide a bit of excitement coming off the back of one of the most boring races of the season in India.


The Form Guide

We have an enthralling championship battle on our hands, and – barring disaster for both – it’s a two-horse race between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso for the title.

One is armed with arguably the most complete technical package on the grid; the other is reliant on his almighty talent to haul back into contention on race day.

In what was an otherwise dull Indian Grand Prix last weekend, Alonso drove superbly to recovery from his third-row qualifying position. He swept by the two McLarens in the early laps, and then took advantage of a KERS problem for Mark Webber to limit the damage to Vettel with a second-placed finish.

But Fernando knows that it won’t be enough if he wants to claim the championship glory for himself. Simply put, the Ferrari isn’t nearly as complete a package as the Red Bull. It’s behind on crucial one-lap pace, and that puts it behind the eight-ball while Vettel can skip off into an early, and usually untroubled, lead.

Unless Ferrari can pull a rabbit out of the hat with a major technical upgrade in the coming races – and that’s assuming Red Bull is incapable of doing the same – then the red cars will have to rely on bad luck hitting the blue cars in order to come back into the picture.

As we saw last weekend, Red Bull isn’t averse to its own technical dramas. Webber had his KERS problem, and Vettel was fractionally slowed by a loose front floor splitter. It takes a minor slip-up, and Ferrari could be back in the game.

As Vettel suffered the indignity of a first-lap retirement here last year, Fernando knows only too well the disappointment that Abu Dhabi can bring. Recall the 2010 race, where Ferrari made the poor tactical decision to shadow Webber’s tyre stop strategy, and instead they dropped their gaze from Vettel, who came through to win the race and claim the most unlikely of championship crowns.

Both teams need absolutely perfect weekends in order to avoid championship failure. The tiniest of slip-ups will be all that it takes to completely change the status quo coming out of this weekend.

Don’t forget to enter your F1 Predictions!

The eighteenth round round of the 2012 RichardsF1.com F1 Predictions Competition is now open, and you can enter your predictions for the race right here to be in the running for some great prizes throughout the season and at the end of the year!

The cut-off to submit your predictions is no later than five minutes before qualifying starts, so make sure you’re in it to win it!

You can view the latest Predictions Competition ranking right here.

There were more changes in the points table following the Indian Grand Prix round, and the overall winner’s title still remains open to many people to claim. Again, we’ll be awarding a prize to this weekend’s highest points-scorer (before ‘double up). Will it be you?

To enter your predictions, click here.


As always, RichardsF1.com will be bringing you the best of the on- and off-track action this weekend, so make sure we’re your first port of call for your Abu Dhabi Grand Prix fix!

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.