UAE F1 Grand Prix 2012: Preview (VMM)
The 5.6 km track weaves its way around a man-made marina and has three distinct sectors, each putting different demands on the car. Two high-speed corners start the lap; there are then two very long straights in the middle section and the last sector is tight and twisty. Such variety makes car set-up a compromise between high-speed balance, straight-line speed, good traction and braking stability.
The track surface is made from granite imported from the United Kingdom, and it’s relatively high-grip and hard wearing. Pirelli will take their Soft and Medium tyre compounds to the race and they expect to see a mix of one and two-stop strategies.
Lewis won last year’s race, while Jenson has finished on the podium in every grand prix staged at Yas Marina. After their fourth and fifth places in India last weekend, they’re hoping for a return to the podium on Sunday.
Race distance - 55 laps (189.747 miles/305.355km)
Start time - 17:00 (local)/1300 GMT
Circuit length - 3.451 miles/5.554km
2011 winner - Lewis Hamilton (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) 55 laps in 1hr37m11.886s (188.494km/h)
2011 pole - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing) 1m38.481s (203.027km/h)
Lap record - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB5) 1m40.279s (199.387km/h)
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
- Wins: 1 (2011)
- Poles: 1 (2009)
- Fastest Laps: 1 (2010)
Car 3: Jenson Button
- Age: 32 (January 19 1980)
- GPs: 225
- Wins: 14
- Poles: 8
- FLs: 8
- 2012 points: 141 (6th)
- Abu Dhabi record: 2011 Q3 R3; 2010 Q4 R3; 2009 Q5 R3
“I’m really looking forward to this race weekend. I’ve always gone well around this track – I had a great battle with Mark Webber in 2009, and finished third, and Lewis and I have been on the podium together at the last two races.
“I think this will be another closely matched race: India showed us that the gap between the top three teams is extremely close at the moment, so I wouldn’t like to predict the exact pecking order. As in the last few races, I think Red Bull will go into the weekend with a slight advantage, but I’m confident that, with a clear run through practice, we can be right up there too.
“One of the most satisfying aspects of the Indian Grand Prix was that we could battle cleanly at the front – that was fantastic. While it’ll be quite tough to overtake around here – even with DRS – I’m hopeful that we can have another great battle, which would be fantastic for the fans.”
Car 4: Lewis Hamilton
- Age: 27 (January 7 1985)
- GPs: 107
- Wins: 20
- Poles: 24
- FLs: 11
- 2012 points: 165 (5th)
- Abu Dhabi record: 2011 Q2 R1; 2010 Q2 R2; 2009 Q1 R-
“The facilities in Abu Dhabi are absolutely fantastic – probably the best of any circuit in the world. I’ve always enjoyed the Yas Marina circuit – I took pole here in 2009 and led until my retirement, finished second in 2010 and won it last year – that’s a pretty good record.
“It’s a track where you can really push the car, which is what I most enjoy. There are a wide variety of corners – I love the fast sweeps in the first sector – and it’s incredibly satisfying to hook together a good sector through the tricky marina section of the lap. Good mechanical balance makes all the difference here because you’re always changing direction.
“This has also been a place where Red Bull have traditionally gone well, but our race pace was very strong throughout the race in New Delhi. I really enjoyed that race India – fourth place may have been little reward for 60 laps of flat-out effort, but I couldn’t have gone any faster.
“I feel confident that we can pull together a strong race weekend in Abu Dhabi.”
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“Another race just a week after the last gives us the perfect opportunity to maintain the positive momentum we gathered during Sunday’s grand prix in India. Both Jenson and Lewis drove their hearts out, and, although we weren’t able to match the Red Bulls in qualifying, their pace on Sunday afternoon, particularly during the second half of the race, was impressively strong.
“The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team has always gone well in Abu Dhabi – Lewis set a stunning pole at the first-ever grand prix in 2009 and led until his retirement; the last time, in fact, that we failed to get two cars home in the points. Additionally, in 2010, both Jenson and Lewis finished on the podium, while Lewis finally delivered on two years’ promise by winning spectacularly last year.
“It’s a circuit that both drivers enjoy, and which plays to our cars’ strengths, so I feel confident that we’ll have a strong race weekend.”
The Yas Marina circuit is an interesting challenge for the teams and drivers. Here’s how Vodafone McLaren Mercedes defined three days in the short history of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
1. November 01 2009
Lewis is in brilliant form. He takes pole position by a massive 0.6s and beats Sebastian Vettel into Turn 1 at the start of the race. But his progress soon begins to falter, due to a rear brake problem on his MP4-24. He keeps Vettel at bay until his first pitstop on lap 17 but retires soon afterwards.
2. November 14 2010
To win the four-way world title showdown, Lewis needs to win and his rivals have to falter. He drags the maximum out of his MP4-25 all weekend: he qualifies second, just 0.031s behind pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel, and he finishes the race second. Vettel is champion. Jenson’s third place secures McLaren’s second position in the Constructors’ Championship.
3. November 13 2011
Lewis lines up second on the grid, but there’s no stopping him in the race. Pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel retires with a puncture on the opening lap and Lewis disappears into the distance. He comes home eight seconds ahead of Fernando Alonso. Jenson is third in the second MP4-26.
~ Official photo and details courtesy of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes ~
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