Vettel aims for record-equalling seventh win in a row

2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix preview

Start, Abu Dhabi, 2011The championship trophies have been won, and some might have you believe that means there’s no reason to watch the rest of the season.

But as you’re reading F1 Fanatic, that’s probably not a point of view you share. There are drivers out to impress team bosses to secure their places for next year a three-way fight in the constructors’ championship for second place and another scrap for tenth between the smaller teams which is being waged with no less intensity.

And there’s the small matter of whether anyone can actually beat Sebastian Vettel in a straight fight. He is aiming for a record-equalling seven wins in a row this year.

No one has ever won more consecutive rounds of the championship than that, although Alberto Ascari did enter and win nine races in a row in the fifties, missing one race.

Until last year the Yas Marina circuit had a reputation for producing wearisome races. Vettel’s ‘pits-to-podium’ recovery drive, aided by a couple of smashes which brought out the Safety Car, went some way towards redressing that. But can it provide a memorable race without needing a title contender to line up last?

The paddock denizens love the track’s the proximity to Emirati wealth, the television director fixates on the glowing hotel and the mechanics enjoy the respite of air-conditioned garages. It’s just a pity the track was an afterthought. A common refrain among drivers is that Yas Marina’s many slow corners makes it an unexciting venue for racing.

Yas Marina circuit information

Lap length 5.554km (3.451 miles)
Distance 55 laps (305.4km/189.7 miles)
Lap record* 1’40.279 (Sebastian Vettel, 2009)
Fastest lap 1’38.434 (Lewis Hamilton, 2011)
Tyres Medium and Soft

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Yas Marina track data in full

The final sector in particular is an exercise in restraint as the drivers dodge around endless slow bends seemingly designed to show off the hotel rather than their skills. Nonetheless, as Nico Hulkenberg notes, “it?s easy to get it wrong and overdo it in qualifying”, particularly as the onset of nightfall brings with it a change in temperatures.

The same tyre compounds will be used here as appeared in India. However Yas Marina doesn’t have as many the long corners which build up stresses in the rubber, so drivers may find tyre life is better on the soft compound.

There are just three races left for the V8 engine generation and at this stage in the season engine life may become a factor. Ahead of this weekend all of the Mercedes-powered drivers have already used their eighth and final engines (Lewis Hamilton did so earlier than the other five), whereas the Ferrari and Renault users have one fresh engine remaining.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix team-by-team preview

Red Bull

That Vettel heads into this weekend’s race as favourite is obvious. But it can only take a momentary lapse – an ill-timed puncture or a shortage of petrol in the tank, for example – to wreck a winning streak. Just as happened to Vettel on his last two visits to this track.

Ferrari

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Yas Marina, 2012Ferrari are focussed on minimising their losses in qualifying so they can be in a stronger position in the race, to improve their chances of regaining second place in the constructors’ championship.

“I think Ferrari can fight for the podium here,” said test driver Marc Gene. “Qualifying is our weak point and if we can manage to get on the second row, that would feel like pole to us.”

“If we could do that then I feel we can get to the podium and therefore be in front of our main competitors Mercedes and Lotus which would be good for our chances to finish second in the constructors’.”

McLaren

Sergio Perez has been boosted by fifth place in India, which he says was: “my strongest performance of the season so far, and a good example of what I feel I?m capable of when I have a solid car beneath me”. It still remains to be seen whether he will remain a McLaren driver next year, so he needs to keep producing those results.

Lotus

Romain Grosjean is riding high at the moment having recovered from 17th in India to take a surprise third podium finish in a row.

“The E21 certainly seems to be liking every track at the moment,” he acknowledged. His team won at this track last year following Hamilton’s retirement, and while it might be a bit optimistic to think he can challenge Red Bull for victory, another podium finish has to be a possibility.

Mercedes

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2012Mercedes have regained second in the constructors’ championship but there’s not much in it: Ferrari are just four points behind and Lotus are within range too.

“It’s all about consistency now and making sure that both Nico [Rosberg] and I score good points so that we can keep the other teams behind us,” said Hamilton.

Sauber

Sauber’s charge up to the points table was halted in India as Esteban Gutierrez had a rough weekend and Nico Hulkenberg retired in the closing stages.

That promoted both Force India drivers allowing the team to edge clear in the championship. Sauber need to get their momentum back to have a chance of taking that sixth place.

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Yas Marina, 2012Mallya credited his team’s performance in their home race to telling them to “think outside of the box” when it came to strategy.

The result was Paul di Resta pitting on the first lap and Adrian Sutil being the only driver to make a ‘medium-soft’ tyre strategy work. These were the kind of aggressive strategies the team used to good effect earlier in the season.

Williams

Although Maldonado is reported to be on his way out of Williams at the end of the year, he has detected some improvements in the car of late: “We have made some progress in recent weeks and the car felt better in India, so we will be looking to continue moving forwards as we approach the final few races of the season.”

Toro Rosso

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, Abu Dhabi, 2010This is a particularly important race for Toro Rosso whose sponsors Cepsa, Nova Chemicals and Falcon Private Bank are all part of the Abu Dhabi government’s IPIC Group.

At IPIC’s behest, Toro Rosso’s cars will carry a logo bearing the message “Kullunna Khalifa” which means “we are all Khalifa”, which they describe as “a message designed to unite everyone in the UAE in being proud of the nation”.

Daniel Ricciardo had a taste of things to come at this track in 2010 when he tested for Red Bull (pictured) shortly after Vettel had won the championship for them.

But he had a run-in with his future team mate during a Safety Car period in last year’s race which left Vettel skidding off the track, damaging his front wing.

Nonetheless Ricciardo is looking forward to joining Vettel next year. “I can?t wait to have the best in the world as my team mate,” he said. “That?s the real challenge and an opportunity for me to see how good I am.”

Caterham

Giedo van der Garde is one of few defenders of the Yas Marina track. “People used to have a go at the circuit layout but I think it?s pretty cool,” he said.

Avoiding trouble on the first lap will be his priority this weekend after early retirements in Japan and India. Team mate Charles Pic was also sidelined last time out in a disastrous weekend for the team.

Marussia

Marussia are increasingly optimistic about keeping Caterham behind them following their last result. “We took a great deal of heart from our performance in New Delhi last weekend and we would hope to continue in much the same vein here this weekend,” said team principal John Booth.

“We will conduct a further evaluation of our new suspension developments on Friday morning and see how things go from there.”

2013 driver form

Driver G avg R avg R best R worst Classified Form guide
Sebastian Vettel 2.19 1.73 1 4 15/16 Form guide
Mark Webber 6.00 5.00 2 15 13/16 Form guide
Fernando Alonso 5.94 4.00 1 11 15/16 Form guide
Felipe Massa 7.63 6.79 3 15 14/16 Form guide
Jenson Button 9.88 9.19 5 17 16/16 Form guide
Sergio Perez 10.94 10.69 5 20 16/16 Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen 7.50 4.67 1 11 15/16 Form guide
Romain Grosjean 8.69 7.23 3 19 13/16 Form guide
Nico Rosberg 4.00 6.07 1 19 14/16 Form guide
Lewis Hamilton 3.25 4.87 1 12 15/16 Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg 10.25 10.21 4 19 14/15 Form guide
Esteban Gutierrez 16.06 13.36 7 20 14/16 Form guide
Paul di Resta 13.25 10.00 4 20 12/16 Form guide
Adrian Sutil 12.06 11.23 5 20 13/16 Form guide
Pastor Maldonado 16.13 13.38 10 17 13/16 Form guide
Valtteri Bottas 15.38 14.00 11 17 15/16 Form guide
Jean-Eric Vergne 13.69 11.73 6 18 11/16 Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo 10.88 12.15 7 19 13/16 Form guide
Charles Pic 19.88 16.38 14 19 13/16 Form guide
Giedo van der Garde 19.44 16.83 14 21 12/16 Form guide
Jules Bianchi 19.50 16.77 13 19 13/16 Form guide
Max Chilton 20.50 17.75 14 20 16/16 Form guide

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2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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49 comments on Vettel aims for record-equalling seventh win in a row

  1. KeeleyObsessed (@keeleyobsessed) said on 30th October 2013, 16:28

    Romain Grosjean is riding high at the moment having recovered from 17th in India to take a surprise third pole position in a row.

    I’ve always said Grosjean was good, but I’m not sure he’s had a pole position yet @keithcollantine :P

  2. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 30th October 2013, 16:28

    But can it provide a memorable race without needing a title contender to line up last?

    No, it can’t.

    This track is beyond awful and if anything happens, it’s a big miracle.

  3. Krichelle (@krichelle) said on 30th October 2013, 16:31

    I am skeptical about Vettel dominating in this race… Hamilton has been on the front row on every GP since its inauguration. I am sure Hamilton can challenge Vettel for pole, particularly with the speed he’s got in the final sector. Don’t rule Lewis out of victory here as he was leading last year and won last last year. If we exclude all reliability issues, he would have been on the podium every race since its inauguration, finishing 2nd, 2nd, 1st and 1st respectively. haha
    I hope Pirelli won’t put a limit on how many laps teams will run on their tyres cause that really sucked for the fans to hear.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 30th October 2013, 16:35

      @krichelle Not that it was obeyed by everybody!

      I do wonder if they’d just seen what happened in the Moto GP race at Phillip Island and tried to copy Bridgestone’s approach there?

    • ME4ME (@me4me) said on 30th October 2013, 16:48

      @Krichelle – Vettel has done as great, or better than Hamilton at this circuit. In 2010 he won the championship by winning the race, in 2011 he started from pole and would possibly have won the race if it wasnt for his puncture. Last year, he took pole, then run out of fuel, meaning he had to start last and still finished 3rd. He’d again probably won the race if he had started from pole.

      Personally i think Vettel is going to win this easily (remember the advantage in traction which RB had in Singapore..). Either that, or a DNF which seems about overdue if you compare to Webber (since the summerbreak).

      • Krichelle (@krichelle) said on 30th October 2013, 17:16

        (@me4me)
        POLE from Vettel last year? Hamilton smashed the field in qualifying last year. And they changed Vettel’s car after the fuel making it more on DRS based/straightline speed. If they decided to remain the car’s setup the same as in qualifying last year, I doubt that Vettel would have had the chance to be on the podium and most of his overtakes last year were “DRS-based” a.k.a as most fans say “artificial racing overtakes”. Plus, Hamilton retired last year so he wouldn’t have finished on the podium as well. Even more, he’s had like 2 safety cars to help him back into contention.

        • Strontium (@strontium) said on 30th October 2013, 21:47

          @me4me To add to Krichelle’s point, Hamilton has twice retired from almost definite wins, compared to Vettel’s one retirement.

          I agree that he may not dominate. I have a feeling that it is somebody else’s turn now!

    • Hyoko said on 30th October 2013, 18:15

      With the Vettel/RBR package out of reach of everybody else, he is going to win the three GPs effortlessly and set a new record. Only a mechanical failure or a major brain fade can prevent it*. There’s nothing that the rest of the drivers and teams can do. However the rest of the world are still fighting for the 2nd position in the WCC and WDC so the season is not dead yet.

      *this statement is NOT the expression of a wish (really I couldn’t care less)

  4. palmerstoneroad (@palmerstoneroad) said on 30th October 2013, 16:58

    Articles titles used on this sites looks more like they are from vettel-fanatic.co.uk :D

    No mention of today’s words from Adrian Newey about tyres and season 2013. Why?

  5. OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 30th October 2013, 17:02

    I still don’t get the Ascari irecord. Did he wn 9 but only 7 were for points? Or is it that he won 7 in F1 and other 2 in other categories (Rally?)

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 30th October 2013, 17:32

      @omarr-pepper he won 9 consecutive races he entered. He missed the Indy 500 in the middle, so he didn’t participate.

      It’s like Kimi’s record of consecutive finishes. He finished every race from Hungary 2009 to Hungary 2013, even if he missed 2 seasons in between.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 30th October 2013, 17:34

      It’s explained in the article linked to where Ascari’s record is mentioned.

    • SpadSXIII said on 30th October 2013, 17:58

      simple thing, Alberto Ascari won the last 6 races of 1952 in a row (there were only eight including Indy 500 which was the second, which he did not enter).
      then in 1953 he won the first, third and fourth races but did not enter the second (indy 500) and did not win the fifth race (he was fourth).

      so in the ten races between Belgium 52 and Belgium 53 he entered nine and won them all but did not enter one (indy 53). back in the 50’s Indy 500 did count for the F1 championship but usually the F1 pilots did not enter it, and the Indy 500 pilots didn’t enter the rest of the F1 races.

      so nobody has won more than 7 consecutive races, but Alberto Ascari entered 9 non-consecutives races (there was a one-race gap) in a row and won them all.

    • Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 30th October 2013, 22:24

      @omarr-pepper @fer-no65
      Also of note is that Ascari “only” had six consecutive race wins within a season; Schumacher had seven in one season in 2004.

      • SpadSXIII said on 31st October 2013, 8:44

        OK but they were 6 out of 8, counting Indy 500 which most F1 drivers didn’t enter. In 2004 there were 18 races, Schuey won 13, six of them in a row. You can say that Ascari was more dominant in proportion.

  6. sumedh said on 30th October 2013, 17:10

    Also, not to forget that in 3 of the 4 races here, the pole sitter has retired. That ought to increase interest.

  7. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 30th October 2013, 20:10

    I don’t think anyone can challenge Vettel on pace this weekend, he’s always shown good form here (although surprisingly he was outqualified by Webber last year), and the RB9 is too far ahead of its rivals. Something can always go wrong, and the Red Bulls do occasionally break, but I won’t be holding my breath.

    I’m personally hoping that Hamilton can finally have a good weekend again. Like Vettel, he has always shown excellent form here, and also like Vettel, he’s not had the best of luck around this track. I don’t know whether Mercedes will be any good around this track, though. It looks like they’ve been struggling for traction for the last couple of races, and in case they gone from being passed by Red Bull to falling into the clutches of Ferrari and Lotus, even in qualifying. And that’s not how I envisaged the second half of the season. Before the summer break, Mercedes and Hamilton looked like outsiders foe both titles, now scoring a podium is practically punching above their weight.

  8. Owen Conwell (@skitty4lb) said on 30th October 2013, 21:17

    It’s no doubt that the Yas Marina circuit is a major architectural achievement and a world class facility. But it should concern fans of Formula 1 that country’s with no racing history, no team and driver involvement, few fans and questionable politics and documented human rights abuses seem to get handed a GP no questions asked. Just so long as you fork over the Billions demanded by Bernie and the FIA and you get your own boring cookie cutter track with little personality that no driver likes.

    It should also concern fans that France, a country that founded Grand Prix racing, has a rich and varied history in the sport, has two drivers on the grid and supplies the most successful engine in F1 history to 4 teams somehow has been absent track wise for 5 years and counting. If Bernie and the FIA would give France the level of support it deserves, ticket sales for a French GP would be through the roof.

    Something is not right here.

    • andae23 (@andae23) said on 30th October 2013, 21:24

      @skitty4lb Agreed, it’s ridiculous.

      • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 30th October 2013, 21:32

        @skitty4lb

        But it should concern fans of Formula 1 that country’s with no racing history,

        History is something that is build, not given. Monaco had no history in 1950, Suzuka had no history in 1987. Does that mean that they too are unworthy of a Grand Prix?

        no team and driver involvement,

        Neither does Belgium, so the race in Spa should be cancelled?
        few fans
        That’s the only fair reason you have given.

        and questionable politics and documented human rights abuses

        United States still hands out death penalties, did you have a problem with all the races in the US throughout history?

        seem to get handed a GP no questions asked

        They weren’t “handed” it, they build the circuit and paid for the race. Therefore, they deserve to hold a Grand Prix.

        I am far from a fan of the Abu Dhabi circuit, but I am appealed the excuses some people will make to support their belief that a race at Yas Marina is somehow a disgrace.

        • Loetkoe said on 30th October 2013, 21:52

          Actually, Monaco had 22 years of Grand Prix racing history and almost 40 years of total racing history by 1955.

          • Loetkoe said on 30th October 2013, 21:52

            *1950, oops

          • andae23 (@andae23) said on 31st October 2013, 6:48

            Indeed, and Suzuka was Honda’s test circuit (for instance, Jack Brabham tested the very first Honda in the winter of 1964 at that circuit). When Suzuka joined the calendar in 1987, the country had already hosted numerous Japanese Grands Prix, 2 championship and a whole lot more non-championship at Fuji.

            When the Japanese Grand Prix rejoined the calendar in 87, there was Nakajima in the Lotus as the home town hero, which was powered by a Honda engine (no coincidence of course..). The country even had its own racing series: Formula 2000 (later F2) started in 1973 and ran non-stop since then.

            So… there is a big difference between Abu Dhabi / UAE and Japan.

        • Owen Conwell (@skitty4lb) said on 30th October 2013, 21:56

          There are many countries that have CURRENT strong history in racing deserve a GP before Abu Dhabi should have gotten one. The Death Penalty is a much longer debate that does not have a place in these comments. I listed driver and team involvement because that has been a deciding factor in handing a Country a GP. And in my opinion, having Billions to throw at a GP venue does not mean you ‘deserve’ GP. I don’t think the Yas Marina circuit is a disgrace. As I mention earlier it is an amazing facility with sensational architecture. I simply don’t believe that the circuit has the excitement that others do. Just read the drivers quotes.

          Thanks for taking the time to read on comment.

          • TheBass (@) said on 30th October 2013, 22:13

            @skitty4lb

            And in my opinion, having Billions to throw at a GP venue does not mean you ‘deserve’ GP.

            Talking about “deserving” a GP is an unnecessarily dramatical interpretation of the events.

            Abu Dhabi has the ressoruces, space and commitment to host a GP, so it gets a GP. That’s all there’s to it.

            I love F1 as much as the next guy, but hosting a race is not some epic honor handled only to those most deserving. It’s still just a sporting event.

            I do agree though that the track is boring as hell and that I miss Magny Cours very much.

        • matt90 (@matt90) said on 30th October 2013, 23:28

          Monaco had no history in 1950

          That’s quite wrong I’m afraid.

          • wsrgo (@wsrgo) said on 31st October 2013, 3:07

            @matt90 How about, Monaco had no history before 1928?

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 31st October 2013, 13:18

            @wsrgo Back then very there was very little of motorsport heritage anywhere, so the use of Monaco as an example becomes somewhat moot.

            I understand and accept that some countries intent on building their own heritage need to be welcomed to F1. I’m not sure UAE or Bahrain care for that- it’s only about promoting the country. It seems cynical somehow. If that has to be accepted, fair enough, but they should have to build good circuits to compensate rather than the carpark-looking dross we actually get, surrounded by nice buildings.

    • Strontium (@strontium) said on 30th October 2013, 21:59

      I agree with @kingshark‘s first two points, and I fully agree that the French GP should be on there. Britain, France, and Italy are what I consider to be ‘essential’ GPs.

      I have to disagree when Kingshark says

      United States still hands out death penalties, did you have a problem with all the races in the US throughout history?

      There is a lot more to it than death penalties. Tonnes of political stuff

      they build the circuit and paid for the race. Therefore, they deserve to hold a Grand Prix.

      It doesn’t mean they automatically deserve it…

  9. 91jb12 (@91jb12) said on 30th October 2013, 21:49

    Unless anything unusual happens, I can only see Hamilton putting up a fight in qualy… though Webber did actually beat Seb in qualy here in 2012 surprisingly.
    As for the race, I think the Lotus cars may be too far back on the grid to make it a real fight.
    If Seb has a clean weekend, I can’t see him not winning- him/RB are just on a roll

  10. I always consider Ascari’s record to be 9. Indy 500 wasn’t an F1 race so it doesn’t count to me, and the stats book can go fall down a well or something…

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