Battle for Second Continues in Abu Dhabi

Battle for Second Continues in Abu Dhabi image

Text: Alex Yoong / Photos: | posted November 10, 2011 20:37

2011 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Abu Dhabi will witness the penultimate round of the 2011 Formula 1 World Championship this weekend, and what a difference a year makes!

Last year, four drivers went into the last round of the championship all with a shot of winning it. Fernando Alonso was a heavy favorite, but his failure to pass Vitaly Petrov in the race meant that Sebastian Vettel won the championship with a faultless drive. This year, we have seen Vettel add consistency to his armory and the result has been one of the most dominated championship wins we have ever seen.

Red Bull have had the quickest car this year, especially in qualifying. Although we have had some weekends when they had not the quickest car, Vettel still strove with great maturity to still go on and win those races. McLaren and Ferrari looks to have caught up to Red Bull as the year progressed, especially McLaren, who seems to have closed the gap properly with a pole positon in Japan and another front row in the last race in India.

But that being said, Vettel has driven magnificently to win the Championship, and if anyone is to going to wrestle the crown from Vettel in 2012, they definitely need to raise their game and show that form now, in these last two races of the year.

Despite Abu Dhabi having the longest straight on the calendar, overtaking was not so prevalent last year. With two DRS zones, we can surely expect a lot of overtaking this weekend.

What I hope not to see however, is too much tires degradation. Conventional wisdom is that high tire degradation leads to more overtaking, which is true, but it also makes for poor racing in my opinion. Good racing, in my opinion, is when two drivers battle it out on the roads, lap after lap with a chance of re-overtaking.

On a track like Abu Dhabi, there should be lots of overtaking with two long straights and two DRS zones. High tire degradation will take away from the spectacle because it will disadvantage overtaken drivers as they won't have the ability to fight back because his tires would have worn out.

I expect some of the teams to be trimming their wings out to maximize the speed for the long straights in the first and second sector in Abu Dhabi, but if you really want to be quick here, the secret lies in sector three. Last season, this was the point where Vettel was strong.

There is an old Chinese saying, "Failure is the mother of all successes". For the sake of Vettel's fellow Red Bull racer Mark Webber, I certainly hope this is true. He will be concentrating on this section surely, as there is no doubt that he is hoping to break his winless streak, especially as he is keen to overtake Button for second in the championship.

Below the big three, the mid field battle is also heating up. Torro Rosso have certainly brought the goods in the last few races and now, they are truly in the battle for the 6th place in the championships along with Force India and Sauber. In these final two Grand Prixs of the year, I expect fireworks to erupt from these three teams.