Drivers given longer DRS zone for race

2011 Abu Dhabi GP pre-race analysis

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Abu Dhabi, 2011

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Abu Dhabi, 2011

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?

The start

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.

Strategy

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.

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36 comments on Drivers given longer DRS zone for race

  1. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 12th November 2011, 18:04

    I don’t know how much difference it’ll make, but it’ll hopefully increase the likelihood that we’ll see some moves tomorrow.

  2. STSCM (@stscm) said on 12th November 2011, 18:14

    Fascinating start tomorrow, the first 3 minutes will be telling. Hamilton knows if Vettel gets ahead, he’ll disappear into the distance. Vettel knows if he doesn’t get around Hamilton quickly he’ll be stuck on his diffuser for a while, something he doesn’t like. Both drivers will see turn 1 filling up their visors rapidly. Either outstanding wheel to wheel racing or clouds of carbon fiber. Then the question is what happens to Button and Alonso, 5cm’s behind the front two?
    After the start, all bets are off.

  3. KaIIe (@kaiie) said on 12th November 2011, 18:39

    As the run into T1 is so short, I don’t expect a huge shuffle at the front, maybe just one or two position changes. If Vettel keeps his lead, I think we’re in for another dominating performance, with him staying a few seconds clear of Hamilton.

    Midfield battle might be the most interesting stuff: can Force India mix it up with Mercedes? They both have a pretty powerful DRS and good straight line speed. What are Sauber and Toro Rosso going to do? Can either of the Williams drivers move up the field?

  4. Even if both DRS activation points were at the exit of their preceding corners, I still don’t expect an exciting race. Button even said it during the qualifying programme that the corners before the straights are first gear corners and the car front will always pull away on acceleration.

  5. George (@george) said on 12th November 2011, 19:06

    Given how anal they are about cleaning the track I doubt the side of the grid will matter too much. If Hamilton gets down the inside of Vettel he can run him out of road without worry as there’s plenty of run-off.

  6. badger (@badger) said on 12th November 2011, 21:02

    If this year has taught us anything, vettel will get a 2 second lead and slowly build on it throughout the race, webber will lose places at the start, button will perform better in the race and hamilton and massa will hit each other. Dont fight the inevitable :-)

  7. Rob Wilson (@rob-wilson) said on 12th November 2011, 21:30

    In the interview with the BBC after quali Hamilton says he backed out of a move on Seb into turn 1 last year, but he isn’t going to back out this year, so it’s up to Sebastian what he wants to do. So much for wanting to stay out of trouble!

    I can see a similar collision to that of the one in India, but Hammy hitting Seb instead of Felipe, at turn 1. I so hope that doesn’t happen though, Ive predicted a McLaren 1-2 for the first time this season.

  8. Harinarayanan (@) said on 12th November 2011, 21:56

    The start is crucial for Lewis. I hope he doesn’t get tardy at the line otherwise he will be eating Sebastian’s dust. I am tipping Lewis for the victory given his strong practice and qualifying performance.

  9. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 12th November 2011, 22:18

    At least we will have à nice first few Laps. Well, it can only exceed my expectations

  10. Mr.Zing Zang said on 12th November 2011, 22:56

    Red Bull will not get their best pace until twilight. For the first ten laps Vettel will drop back to third. I see a Mclaren winner.

  11. I’m a bit worried about the start for Hamilton tomorrow. Vettel hasn’t been that considerate when it comes to getting off at the start and he might try the same move on Hamilton just like last year. Hamilton backed off and Vettel took the lead. Chances are that Vettel will try and squeeze hamilton again at turn 1 and if Hamilton does’t back off, we might see the cars flying.

  12. Can’t see anyone beating Vettell TBH, but if anyone can it’ll be Hamilton(with something to prove) or Button.

    It’s a shame that circuits like this don’t depend on driving ability but team strategy and a race to the first corner, but there you go!

  13. UKFan (@) said on 13th November 2011, 1:05

    My bet for tomorrows race, matches exactly todays qualifying session, anyway Im hoping for a better race this year, despite my will I dont think thats going to happen even with lengthened DRS zones, the main issue after the layout is that tyres are holding up for too long.

  14. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 13th November 2011, 2:51

    What ever happens we are set for a exciting race,may be the DRS spice things up a bit,but with it’s length increasing we may have a situation when the racing becomes too much artificial.

  15. Dev (@dev) said on 13th November 2011, 4:14

    Hamilton has nothing to loose all or nothing, let Vettel decide what he wants to do. Button will most likely benefit when they both race hard destroy their tires.

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