F1 is ready for four-way battle in Abu Dhabi

F1 is ready for four-way battle in Abu Dhabi

2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Preview For the final round of the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) Formula One World Championship teams have arrived in Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina circuit. Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab ...

2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Preview

For the final round of the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) Formula One World Championship teams have arrived in Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina circuit. Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, the name means 'father of the gazelle'. The 5.5 km long Yas Marina Grand Prix circuit can be split in two separate circuits of 3.1 km and 2.4 km each. Last year's inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix won the award for Best Promoted Race at the 2009 FIA Gala in Monaco, and the circuit is now been nicknamed 'the Monaco circuit of the Middle East'. FOM boss Bernie Ecclestone is also happy with the venue, "If only all the venues were as superb as Abu Dhabi I would be one happy man."

Abu Dhabi and the colorful Yas Marina Hotel at night.
Photo by xpb.cc.

The race starts late in the afternoon and ends in the evening, the circuit has a sophisticated light system which provides a smooth and natural transition from daylight to darkness.

The circuit is located around the marina, where many ships of the rich and famous are moored, just like in Monaco. The circuit is popular with drivers and teams as it has excellent facilities, it has also become famous by its extraordinary architecture. The luxury Yas Marina Hotel with its colorful lightning at night, is a prime example of the beauty and perfection the architects have brought to Abu Dhabi, they have really done everything to make this a very exclusive circuit. Like last year, the race is completely sold out, apart from the Grand Prix the Yas Marina circuit will also host the 'Formula One Rocks' live music event, this year with performers Prince, Kanye West and Linkin Park.

FIA stewards

The FIA has appointed four stewards who will make up the F1 Stewards Panel for the race in Abu Dhabi: Frenchman Nicolas Deschaux and Swede Lars Osterlind will represent the FIA, it is unknown who will represent the hosting country Abu Dhabi, but ex-Formula One driver Italian Emanuele Pirro will represent the drivers.

The 48-year old Pirro was born in Rome and started his career in karts before he moved on to the Italian Formula Fiat Abarth series, Formula 3 and Formula 2. In 1985 he raced in the Formula 3000 series for Onyx Racing, and became third in the championship in 1985, and second in 1986. He was active in Formula One from 1989 until 1991, and drove for Benetton and Scuderia Italia (BMS-Dallara). He participated in 40 races, but due to his many retirements, especially in the unreliable BMS-Dallara, he only scored 3 championship points. He scored his best result in 1989 when he finished in fifth position during the Australian Grand Prix in a Benetton B189, powered by a Cosworth V8 engine. His career in sportscar endurance racing was one that saw him earn chamionships and five 24 Hours of Le Mans wins.

Ferrari can take second place from McLaren

The Constructors' Championship has already been decided in Brazil, Red Bull took the title with another one-two finish. But Ferrari could still beat McLaren for second place, they are currently32 points behind McLaren, and Ferrari can still score the maximum amount of 43 points for first and second place, or 40 points for first and third place, or 33 points for second and third place. There is still a battle going on for sixth place between Williams, currently sixth with 69 points, and Force India, currently seventh with 68 points. It is not just about who finishes sixth, but the team who takes sixth place is also entitled to more money from FOM, and the difference between sixth and seventh place is believed to be worth many million Euros, something both Williams and Force India would very much welcome.

The race between Lotus and Virgin is still on.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Only the first ten teams in the Constructors' Championship are entitled to a share of the Formula One revenues, and that is why Lotus Racing's current tenth place is very important. The team owners of Lotus and Virgin Racing, Tony Fernandes and Richard Branson, who both also own an airline, have accepted a bet about who will be the highest classified team at the end of the season. The losing team boss should work on the winners airline for a day dressed as a stewardess. Currently Branson will have to dress up as stewardess, as Lotus is tenth in the championship, thanks to Heikki Kovalainen's 12th place in Japan. If HRT or Virgin want to take the tenth place from Lotus they will at least have to finish in 11th position during the race in Abu Dhabi.

Doing the maths for the Drivers' Championship

Fernando Alonso is without a doubt in the best position to win the title, he has an eight-point lead over Mark Webber, while Sebastian Vettel is 15 points, and Lewis Hamilton 24 points behind him. There are many possible scenarios in which he could win the title, but according to Alonso the maths are relatively simple, "I just need to finish second. It doesn't matter who wins in Abu Dhabi if I finish second. With that, the problem [of the maths] is finished."

For Webber the maths are simple too, "I've got to overtake him [Alonso] in Abu Dhabi. It's a massive weekend because the difference between winning the title and finishing second is huge; no one remembers the guy who finishes second." And the Australian added, "The bottom line is this: if I win the race and Alonso finishes lower than second, I'll be champion. That's what I'll be aiming for. The Fat Lady's getting into position." His team colleague Vettel also knows what he has to do, "My first goal is pole position, my second is winning the race. And if necessary, I can analyze the situation [during the race] and decide very quickly."

Hamilton knows this will be a tough weekend for him and his McLaren team and admitted his chances to win the title are very slim, "I'm fully aware that, being 24 points behind, I'll not only need to win the race on Sunday but see the championship leader finish outside the points. And, even then, that might not be enough."

Many scenarios are possible in Abu Dhabi, but it is almost impossible to sum up all the possibilities, but the table below can be used as a guide:

2010 Championship points table for Abu Dhabi
Position:Fernando Alonso:Mark Webber:Sebastian Vettel:Lewis Hamilton:
1 (25)271263256247
2 (18)264256249240
3 (15)261253246237
4 (12)258250243234
5 (10)256248241232
6 (8)254246239230
7 (6)252244237228
8 (4)250242235226
9 (2)248240233224
10 (1)247238232223

A few examples: for Alonso it is relatively easy, he takes the title if he wins (271 points) or becomes second (264), regardless of the position of the three other contenders. If he becomes third, he has 261 points, then Webber has to finish second (256) or lower, and as according to the table Vettel can score a maximum of 256 points, and Hamilton a maximum of 247 points, Alonso would still be crowned champion if one of those two would win the race. If Alonso becomes fourth he has 258 points, and Webber again has to finish second (256) or lower. Alonso has to start worrying when he finishes in fifth position or lower.

If Webber wins the race he has 263 points, according to the table Alonso has to finish third (261) or lower for Webber to take the title, regardless of the points Vettel or Hamilton will score. If he finishes second (256), Alonso has to finish sixth (254), and Vettel second (249), and Hamilton can still win the race without taking the title from Webber.

Vettel could be the youngest driver to take the title, if he wins the race, according to the table he then has 256 points, and then Alonso has to finish sixth (254) or lower, Webber third (253) or lower, and Hamilton can still win the race (247). Hamilton indeed needs a miracle, he will have to win the race, he then has 247 points, and Alonso should score no points at all (246), while Webber has to finish sixth (246) or lower, and Vettel third (246) or lower for Hamilton to become the 2010 champion.

If the number of points is a tie, the number of race wins will decide the championship, so far Alonso has won 5 races, Webber and Vettel 4, and Hamilton 3.

Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Circuit length:5.554 km
Corners:21 turns, 12 left, 9 right
Longest straight:1170 meter
Total number of race laps:55
Total race distance:305,355 km
Top speed:318 km/h
Average speed:200 km/h
Tyre wear:Medium
Tyre compounds:Super Soft/Medium
Brake wear:Medium to high
Down force level:Medium to high
Lap record:1.40.279 S.Vettel, Red Bull 2009
Speed limits in the pit lane:60 km/h during practice sessions;
100 km/h during qualifying and race

Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, 3-day weather forecast
Friday:Clouded, light rain showers, warm, min 21C, max 30C
Saturday:Clouded, light rain showers, warm, min 26C, max 30C
Sunday:Sunny, no rain expected, warm, min 24C, max 31C

Pit stops and tyres

Expected pit stop schedule for Abu Dhabi:
For 1 Stop - between laps 27-33
For 2 Stops - between laps 16-27 and 35-41
For 3 Stops - between laps 14-19, 25-30 and 38-43

Bridgestone tyre report

A special weekend for Bridgestone, as it is the last time they will supply tyres for a Formula One race. It will be Bridgestone's 242nd race after the Japanese company entered the sport in 1997. The Potenza tyres have since then won ten Drivers' and Constructors' Championships, 174 races and scored 167 pole positions. Bridgestone brings the Super Soft and Medium tyre compounds to Abu Dhabi.

Hirohide Hamashima said, "The track layout is certainly challenging with a long straight which presents a good overtaking opportunity heading into turn eight." Last year there was a lot of sand and dust on the track, which caused graining. "It will be interesting to see how the surface has evolved in the 12 months since we were last there. Track temperature was an interesting factor last year. In the heat of the sun it reached over 50 degrees Celsius, but after the sun set in the race the temperature dropped by seven degrees meaning it is important to monitor the tyre temperatures as this occurs," he added.

Red Bull Racing insist: No team orders

Red Bull team owner Austrian Dieter Mateschitz has ruled out team orders. "This is a sport and the best should win. Power, politics, manipulation and so on should be kept as far away as possible. The game is 'come and get me, if you can', and not 'let me through because I'm better'; racing must remain racing," Mateschitz insists. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has said several times he will let his drivers fight for the championship, rather than to issue a team order, or to favor one of his drivers. Red Bull consultant ex-Formula one driver Helmut Marko refused to comment on the current situation within the Red Bull team, "We will be considering how to approach Abu Dhabi, both technically and tactically."

No team orders at Red Bull racing.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Vettel has hinted he could help Webber if he is in a bad position to win the championship himself, and Horner reckons it is up to Vettel whether he chooses to support Webber or not, "The drivers race for the team. Our drivers are team players and know that at stake is the biggest title in motor sports. I don't think it is a decision I will have to make. Ultimately, if he was in that position, it would be down to Vettel."

Although the media were outraged when Ferrari issued a team order during the German Grand Prix, Red Bull's decision not to issue team orders has now been criticized by many, apparently team orders from Ferrari are taboo, while a Red Bull team order would be justified. The Italian media have been stirring up the rivalry between Webber and Vettel and reported that 'the Austrian team would be happier to lose than to see Webber beat Vettel', and the Italian Gazetto dello Sport commented: "It is not easy for Webber to drive in a team that considers him a burden to be up against Vettel."

Epsilon-Euskadi President Joan Villadelprat commented: "Had Red Bull opted for Webber a few races ago, the Australian would probably now be champion." Rubens Barrichello also had his doubt about what Red Bull would have done if Vettel was leading the title chase, "I'm always in favor of leaving the fight on the track with equal chances for both sides. But I wonder if they [Red Bull] would do that if the situation was in reverse." Three-time World Champion Niki Lauda also thinks Red Bull's decision could prove to be disastrous, "It is a sporting choice, but in the end it is Alonso who will laugh."

Alonso and Ferrari hold the key

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali knows what his team has to do. "What is clear is that, because we are leading, the others have to do more than us," the Italian said. "If we end up in the middle of the two Red Bulls it's clear that we will achieve the result we need. But as always, the key is to concentrate on our own efforts throughout the weekend and not worry about what the others are doing."

Alsonso holds the key to the title.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Alonso seems to be at his personal best at the moment, give him one tiny opportunity and he will grab it with both hands -- and he will take the championship. Alonso doesn't have to worry about a team mate who is also in the running for the title, and he is more than happy to point out to the media that Webber could be beaten by Vettel, and vice versa. It seems Alonso holds the key to the 2010 title, the chances of Webber, Vettel and Hamilton depend on the fortune or misfortune of the Spaniard. If Alonso doesn't make any mistakes, it will be very difficult for Webber and Vettel to beat him, while Hamilton's mission will become next to impossible.

All four remaining title contenders are aiming for a perfect race weekend -- mistakes are not allowed -- with perfect weather, a perfect qualifying session, a perfect car, a perfect engine, a perfect pit crew, a perfect strategy and a perfect race. Yet only one of these four contenders will really have his perfect weekend when he steps onto the podium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday night, with an ear-to-ear smile on his face, and the 2010 Formula One Drivers' Championship trophy in his hands.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Rubens Barrichello , Mark Webber , Fernando Alonso , Lewis Hamilton , Niki Lauda , Sebastian Vettel , Bernie Ecclestone , Emanuele Pirro
Teams Ferrari , Red Bull Racing , McLaren , Force India , Williams , Virgin Racing , Benetton