Tuesday, October 15, 2019
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F1: fight for second keeps focus on Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi: A fight for second place in the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championships will keep the adrenalin flowing at this week’s Etihad Airways F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit, which steps into its fifth year.

There was no stopping the all-conquering Infiniti Red Bull Racing team at the Indian Grand Prix last weekend as Sebastian Vettel became the youngest world champion for the fourth time while helping his team reach an unassailable total of 470 points.

However, all is not lost as the fight for second position sees a three-way battle between Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus over the next three races starting in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

After tallying 26 points at the Budh Circuit, Mercedes nudged ahead to stay clear of Ferrari in the standings while Lotus also gained ground after adding 21 points and move their total to 285 making it a three-way fight for the spoils.

Riding the crest of a wave, champion Vettel is not taking things for granted though. “Sitting inside the car does not guarantee you anything. It does not mean that the race is won. There is still a lot of work to be done,” Vettel said upon his return home for a couple of days with his girlfriend.

“It’s been a quite few days after winning the title for the fourth time and this weekend is going to pose its own load of challenges,” he added.

“We need to be realistic to the fact that we do not have a competitive car even though we started the season well. There is a fight for the second place, but that is definitely not going to be a main priority,” Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso said.

There’s something to look forward too at the lower end of the standings as arch-rivals Marussia and Caterham continue in their involvement in a race-by-race battle to finish in 10th position and the valuable share of prize money that comes with it.

At the moment, the scales look tipped in favour of the more reliable Marussia but with Austin and Sao Paulo still to go, anything can happen.

The pole position form at Yas Marina has never been a true indicator as only Vettel has managed to win the race (in 2010) after starting from pole. On the remaining three occasions, it has been Hamilton who has been the unlucky one. In the inaugural race, Hamilton retired with a brake problem, and again in 2011, the British driver led away from pole only to suffer a first corner puncture and then in 2012, he went out after losing fuel pressure.

Friday will see the teams heading out for their two practice sessions, followed by a third practice session between 2 and 3pm on Saturday and the qualifying from 5 to 6pm.

Fact Box

Drivers’ Championship Standings: 1. Sebastian Vettel (322pts); 2. Fernando Alonso (207); 3. Kimi Raikkonen (183); 4. Lewis Hamilton (169); 5. Mark Webber (148); 6. Nico Rosberg (144); 7. Romain Grosjean (102); 8. Felipe Massa (102); 9. Jenson Button (60); 10. Paul Di Resta 40).

Constructors’ Championship Standings: 1. Infiniti Red Bull Racing (470pts); 2. Mercedes AMG Petronas (313); 3. Scuderia Ferrari (309); 4. Lotus (285); 5. Vodafone McLaren (93); 6. Sahara Force India (68); Sauber F1 (45); 7. Toro Rosso (32); 8. Williams F1 (1); QNET Marussia (0); Caterham (0).