Saturday, 13 November 2010

What each contender faces for the race

It was a drama filled and tense qualifying session in Abu Dhabi but Sebastian Vettel had the speed at the end to notch up his 10th pole position of the season. Lewis Hamilton was just edged out by the German into 2nd. Championship leader Fernando Alonso took a vital 3rd on the grid alongside Jenson Button but it was disappointment for Mark Webber who could only manage 5th and shares row 3 with Felipe Massa. So what could possibly unfold tomorrow...

Sebastian Vettel: In terms of getting the win, Vettel is in a good position. The start and subsequent tyre wear will be key and he may have to be wary early on of Hamilton who needs the win to have any chance. Vettel done a couple more laps on his starting tyres in Q3 than most other drivers and the opening stint will be when he track is at its hottest so some early graining could see Hamilton on his tail. I feel he should have enough race pace to cover the McLaren though and should be in the hunt for the race victory. He needs Alonso to finish 5th or lower to take the title and that is out of his hands really. He may yet have to yield a victory to Webber in certain circumstances.

Lewis Hamilton: Simple really for Hamilton, he has to win, hope Vettel is 3rd or lower, Webber 6th or lower and that Alonso doesn't score any points. I think to get the win he'll need to get ahead early on and hope his slightly fresher tyres will help him put pressure on Vettel. Team mate Jenson Button could be a help to his title aspirations if he can get involved in the fight and at least push Vettel behind but he'll still need issues for Webber and Alonso. McLaren have finally got the 'double' F-duct working and are running quite a bit of downforce to keep up in the corners whilst the improved stalling of the rear wing maintains good speed on the straights. Good progress but perhaps too late to save Hamilton's championship ambitions.

Fernando Alonso: Overall things worked out ok for the Spaniard. Ferrari look like the 3rd fastest team this weekend, albeit it is extremely close for such a long track. With Webber struggling it eases the pressure on Alonso. If the Australian doesn't win tomorrow then a top 4 finish will seal a third title for the Ferrari driver. Dropping to 5th could allow Vettel to snatch the title on countback. Realistically for that to happen it will take either a major issue or being passed by Webber and Button so Alonso will hope to maintain his position early on and keep Webber behind and then settle for a minimum of 4th. A pressure for him to handle is the old engine which after powering him around Yas Island today has now done approximately 1250km and still needs to keep going for another 310km to ensure Alonso can see the chequered flag under the lights tomorrow.

Mark Webber: There are still 55 laps for things to change tomorrow but this was not a good Saturday for Mark Webber. The Australian really needed to be on the front row so that he could be challenging for the win or at least be in a position to inherit one if the situation dictated it. Instead he finds himself behind his title rivals and he needs to take risks to get back in contention. So where can the Red Bull driver make up positions. Obviously the start is one opportunity but it'll be difficult to make multiple places up as it is a short run to turn 1 and not a big braking zone. He certainly won't want Felipe Massa nipping ahead early on and interfering with his race. His car is not particularly quick in the speed trap so that could also make his task difficult. A safety car is not likely at this circuit but an early deployment would allow him to try a similar strategy to Singapore where he gained a couple of positions by pitting early for the hard tyre. However the pitlane loss in bAu Dhabi is quite a bit less than it was at Marina Bay. His task is difficult but he will just have to try and attack as much as possible. A victory for his team mate means Webber won't take the title so he will either need issues for others or hope he can get up behind him and hope Alonso is 3rd or 4th, forcing Vettel to yield for him.

So a lot of scenario's and permutations there but the world awaits to see what will unfold tomorrow. I feel Alonso is in prime position, he is very capable of dealing with the pressures involved and with Webber behind, a top 4 finish may well be enough. A 5pm start means a long wait for the drivers and plenty of time for the tension to build. Can Mark Webber show his fighting spirit one more time? Will Sebastian Vettel make it 2 wins out of 2 races in Abu Dhabi or could the outsider Lewis Hamilton pull off an incredible turnaround? In 24 hours we will know...

1 comment:

  1. This proved that Vettel won the world title