2011 Abu Dhabi GP pre-race analysis
The FIA has increased the length of one of Yas Marina’s two DRS zones in a bid to increase overtaking.
But will it allow drivers to pass at a circuit where it has previously been difficult?
For the sixth time this year Hamilton starts behind Vettel on the front row of the grid, knowing that his best chance of beating the Red Bull lies in beating him to turn one.
The pair were in the same situation last year, and although Hamilton got away well, Vettel stayed ahead at the first corner.
“Last year I started second but braked early into turn one and let Sebastian have the corner,” said Hamilton. “I’ve just told him that’s not going to happen tomorrow, though.”
Hamilton may fancy his chances of getting away well from the dirty side of the grid, but Fernando Alonso is happy to be on the other side of the grid:
“I will start from the clean side of the track and hope to make up some places: the first lap is a good window of opportunity.”
Perhaps Alonso is thinking more about Mark Webber who starts in front of him, who has tended to lose at least one place at the start of every race this year.
A conventional strategy at Abu Dhabi is likely to see the drivers start on soft tyres, do two stints on them and then switch to the medium tyres. Some teams may have to do three stops depending on tyre life.
“The tyres should not be a big issue here,” said Michael Schumacher. “We tested their behaviour in second practice yesterday which took place at the same time as the race. The fact that the track temperatures will drop during the race might be good for us as we struggle a bit with the tyre temperatures here.”
McLaren’s long stint pace looked decent on Friday but Vettel’s long run was interrupted by his spin at turn one. Given Red Bull’s recent form it’s hard to imagine him being particularly vulnerable in this respect.
At first the drivers did not think much of the prospects for overtaking at Yas Marina, which has seen two processional races in the past. Webber said: “I don’t know how exciting the race is going to be in terms of overtaking.
“I think this track is traditionally pretty hard to pass on. We’ll see how the DRS [zones] go but it’s been tricky in the past so it’s going to be more down to the DRS and of course during the stops.”
However since then the FIA has announced it will increase the length of the first DRS zone by 75 metres in a bid to promote more passing at the track.
Do you expect to see a more exciting race at Abu Dhabi? And can anyone keep Vettel from winning again? Have your say in the comments.
2011 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
- Hamilton voted Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Driver of the Weekend
- Rate the race result: 2011 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
- Pirelli say tyre failure did not cause Vettel retirement
- Vote for your Abu Dhabi GP driver of the weekend
- McLaren: Relief for Hamilton after return to winning ways
- Ferrari: Slow pit stop costs Alonso shot at victory
- Red Bull: Mystery puncture halts the Vettel steamroller
- Mercedes: Rosberg comes out ahead after first-lap scrap
- Force India: Team tightens grasp on sixth in championship
- Sauber: Kobayashi ends seven-race drought
Image © Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo