Abu Dhabi Grand Prix | Sunday 3 November | Yas Marina Circuit | 15:00
Formula One is in the Monaco of the Middle East this weekend, where it’s all sun and sand dunes as the drivers contest for second place after Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull ended the fight for the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles in India. The race in Abu Dhabi is definitely one of the biggest spectacles in Formula One and as the only day to night race, there is more than enough action both on and off the track. Whether it’s the Ferrari themed amusement park, the after-race parties, the large yachts docked next to the track or high-speed racing, there’s always something to grab your attention in Abu Dhabi.
Sebastian Vettel claimed his fourth World Championship title in India, having spent the afternoon swiftly carving his way through the field after pitting early from pole to take the checkered flag. He was clearly ecstatic with the win, and took to doing donuts in his Red Bull on the starting grid, enthusing fans and enraging the FIA, who slapped him with a €25,000 fine for his celebratory antics. Alonso’s last championship hopes were extinguished when he was forced to pit after tangling with Webber and Button at the start. Massa fared rather better than his teammate, taking the lead from Vettel after the latter pitted and nearly made it onto the podium, falling just one spot short. Mark Webber was another new face at the front of the Indian Grand Prix, but yet again the Red Bull number two was left bitterly disappointed as his car decided to quit on him, robbing him of a podium finish. The Lotus team felt the wrath of Kimi fans after a message came through telling Raikkonen to “get out of the f*cking way” of teammate Grosjean, who went on to beat out Massa for the podium. Kimi lost the fight against his tyres and was forced to shoot into the pits, returning out in seventh. His only response to the team’s angry message? “Don’t shout.”
Yas Marina is one of the five anti-clockwise circuits on the calendar and boasts the second longest straight in Formula One. But the most interesting attributes are the thousands of lights that aid the seamless transition from day to night, and that the island they are racing on, is in fact, man-made. Money is clearly no problem in Abu Dhabi, with the race worth watching even just for the breathtaking views of the track surroundings, which include the super-yacht filled Marina, the Yas Hotel (which is peppered with colour-changing LEDs), or the monstrous Ferrari emblem emblazoned on Ferrari World, which is home to the fastest roller coaster in the world. There are 55 laps for you to take in all the sights, with each lap 5.554km long. Expect high temperatures, dry weather and sweaty drivers. Despite the heat, it’s not particularly harsh on the tyres and Pirelli’s choice of the soft and mediums will see teams trying a one-stop race. The track consists of 21 corners in total, with a couple 90 degree turns, some fast, tricky corners as well as a hairpin at turn seven. There are two DRS zones so we should see some decent overtaking and possibly a couple of collisions.
To Win Outright
Sebastian Vettel 7/20
Mark Webber 7/2
Romain Grosjean 14/1
Lewis Hamilton 18/1
Fernando Alonso 25/1
Kimi Raikkonen 25/1
Nico Rosberg 28/1
Felipe Massa 125/1
Nico Rosberg (28/1 a win, 9/2 a place)
2013 has definitely been Nico Rosberg’s best season to date, numerous podiums as well as a win in his home town of Monaco have cemented him as one of the top drivers this year. The Mercedes team are looking to beat out Ferrari for second in the constructors, so there will be big pressure on the drivers to perform this weekend. Rosberg hasn’t had notable success in Abu Dhabi but his recent form suggests that if there is ever a time for a podium at the Yas Marina Circuit, it would be now.
Kimi Raikonnen (25/1 a win, 4/1 a place)
His radio message of “leave me alone, I know what I’m doing” in Abu Dhabi last year proved true, as Raikkonen won his first race after his return to Formula One here in 2012. He was unlucky with his tyres in India but he’s been a pretty consistent podium sitter this year, so I’d expect him to make it into the top three on Sunday. He very well could challenge for another win and with 25/1 odds it’s worth a shot, but I’d rather back him for a podium at 4/1.
POLE POSITION: Lewis Hamilton 11/1
The past few races haven’t been kind to Hamilton, but Abu Dhabi might bring a welcome change for the Mercedes driver. He won the race in 2011 and has started on pole twice, last year and at the inaugural race in 2009. Hamilton has been a threat in qualifying throughout the season so he’ll be in with a good chance of preventing Vettel from claiming another pole start. Although there is a strong possibility that one of the Red Bulls will beat him to the front row, a bet on Hamilton is better value, so my money is on the Brit to take the top spot on Saturday.
TO WIN: Fernando Alonso 25/1
His title hopes have been dashed but the season is not yet over. Although it will be too little too late in terms of the Championship, there is still a fierce battle between Ferrari and Mercedes for second place in the Constructors. Yas Marina, with Ferrari World looming in the background, is a fitting venue for the team to get a man back on the podium. Alonso has historically performed well in Abu Dhabi, with two second place finishes under his belt at the sandy track. Vettel has had a choke hold on the checkered flag for the past six races but now that he has won his fourth title, perhaps he might be willing to relinquish his grip ever so slightly. My money is on Alonso to bring it home for Ferrari on Sunday at a huge price. Get on.
Think we’ve got it wrong? Well leave your comments below and tell us how you think this one is going to play out.