2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Preview


Formula One is always quick to move on.  After the euphoria of seeing Vettel take his fourth consecutive title just last weekend, Red Bull Racing’s focus will already have switched to taking yet another victory.

Since the end of the summer break, the result of both championships never really looked in doubt. Team and driver have been in harmony, and have therefore looked (and so far been) unbeatable. Even starting on what many considered to be the worse race tyre couldn’t stop Vettel taking victory in India, so you’d be right to wonder – perhaps in despair – what the chances are that anyone will get close to him this weekend.

There is one statistic that may give Red Bull’s rivals a crumb of comfort. Since the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009, the race has only been won from pole position once. In 2009, Lewis Hamilton was forced out with brake failure. In 2011, Vettel’s hopes of victory were over in just a few seconds thanks to a puncture. 12 months ago, Hamilton’s chances were ended once more with another mechanical failure.

Only in 2010, when Vettel took victory and his first title, has the race been won from the front. Is that a statistic that will remain by the end of the weekend?

Just like Singapore, Abu Dhabi is one of the more glamorous newer venues the sport visits. The twilight-into-darkness aspect has given the race a unique selling point. But despite the spectacular backdrop, the race hasn’t always been that exciting.

That changed last year when we were treated to an absolute classic. The 2012 race had everything – Vettel starting from the pit lane after stopping on circuit after qualifying, numerous incidents and accidents, and a popular win for Kimi Raikkonen. It was his first since returning to the sport at the start of that year, and few will forget his now infamous radio message of “just leave me alone, I know what I’m doing.

Through all the chaos and carnage however, Vettel drove through the field to take an incredible podium finish. Given his current form, it is doubtful that he’ll have to drive that hard to get a similar result this weekend.

Both titles might be won, but there is still plenty to be decided. The continuing battle between Mercedes and Ferrari in the constructors’ championship will certainly be one to watch. The Silver Arrows moved back ahead of the Scuderia after India, following a disastrous race by Fernando Alonso in which the Spaniard finished outside the points.

Don’t believe the comments you’ll hear about them not caring about second. Given the extra money that comes with finishing in the runner up position, it will be something both will be putting all their attention on.

Lotus will be hoping to further gain on both as we enter the final three races of 2013. Given Grosjean’s excellent form of late, would it be too much of an ask for him to win at a track Lotus succeeded at last season?