F1 Power Rankings: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Well, the season isn’t over but it may as well be. Sebastian Vettel is the World Drivers’ Champion for the fourth consecutive season. Red Bull is the World Constructors’ Champion for the fourth time. The only thing not settled is who’s going to finish 2nd. So who do I have making a late run? Find out in this week’s Power Rankings.

#1 Sebastian Vettel (Last Race #1)
One lap of the Yas Marina Circuit with the new World Champion: “The circuit is impressive: 5.5km, 55 laps counter clockwise with large run-off areas and a pit lane that leads through a tunnel to the other side of the straight. A few key points of the track for me are; Turn 1 because it is very difficult to see and is very fast.The last corners, (turns 20 and 21) must be regarded as one, because you have to exit perfectly from the first to catch the last corner correctly. The trick here is to get on the throttle as early as possible in order to build up enough speed for the subsequent straight.”

#2 Fernando Alonso (LR #2)

#3 Romain Grosjean (LR #4)
Could Grosjean in with a chance to win. He likes his sleep, after all: “I quite like it as it means you can get more sleep and I like to sleep! The logistics of the race are pretty good as you stay right next to the circuit and the facilities are amazing. On the Friday you don’t start the first practice until the afternoon, then qualifying and the race itself start pretty late in the afternoon too so it’s different from a lot of races we do.”

#4 Kimi Raikkonen (LR #3)
The Iceman doesn’t think much of Hermann Tilke’s attempts to create a passing happy track went that well: “The track layout makes it really challenging for overtaking as there are not too many places to pass. You really have to qualify well to be at the front and get a strong result from there.”

#5 Mark Webber (LR #5)
@AussieGrit talks about his race day preparation for the day-to-night race: “Well the track temperature is dropping during the race which is an interesting point for us, performance-wise, with the tyres. Also we’ll have a different visor tear-off for the first part of the race, for the first 10 or 15 laps we’ll have a dark tear-off because of the low sun in the last sector, and then when the sun has gone behind the grandstand we can get rid of that tear off and run a clear one for the rest of the race.”

#6 Nico Rosberg (LR #8)
Keke’s kid is looking forward to the change in weekend timetable: “The Abu Dhabi weekend is a real favourite of mine and it’s a great event for the fans, our partners and the team. It’s also very unique as a twilight race and working on a different timetable makes a nice change from the usual race weekend.”

#7 Lewis Hamilton (LR #6)
Lewis is looking to snag 2nd in the World Constructors’ Championship from Ferrari in the final three races: “With three races left of the season, we are still pushing and there is a lot that our team can achieve in that period. It’s all about consistency now and making sure that both Nico and I score good points so that we can keep the other teams behind us. We’re up for the challenge!”

#8 Felipe Massa (LR #9)

#9 Nico Hulkenberg (LR #7)
The Hulk hates this track because I can always count on The Hulk and I to share the same opinion: “The paddock is really nice and probably has the best atmosphere of the year with very modern facilities…  It’s not one of my most favourite circuits. I think it’s too much stop-and-go and it’s missing a flow.”

#10 Jenson Button (LR #10)
Jenson is basically saying that he’s due for an early vacation: “Now that the drivers’ world championship has been conclusively settled, I think the Formula 1 community will enjoy these last three races. While we’ll be competing with one another as fiercely as ever, we’ll also be treating our last three outings as opportunities to develop and understand the package we’ll take into the 2014 season.”

#11 Sergio Perez (LR #11)
Someone likes this track. Really, Checo? “The Yas Marina circuit is one of the most impressive and sophisticated racetracks in the world – the first two sectors, which are a series of high-speed sweeps and hard stops, are great fun to drive, while the final sector is a little trickier, because although it’s much slower it requires great precision. Getting the set-up right around here is always a compromise, also.”

#12 Adrian Sutil (LR #12)
Sutil talks about how bizarre the Yas Marina Circuit is: “It’s one of the most perfect tracks on the calendar because there’s not a stone out of place! It almost feels like a futuristic venue and with the harbour location it’s like a second Monaco. The track layout is not my favourite because it’s mostly low-speed, but as an event it’s certainly a highlight of the year.”

#13 Daniel Ricciardo (LR #14)

#14 Paul di Resta (LR #15)
Dario’s cousin talks about the spectacle of the race in Abu Dhabi: “I enjoy driving there because it’s a twilight race and one of the more spectacular events of the year – a bit like Singapore. As a track you don’t have to rely too much on aero performance because it’s mostly low-speed and that should suit our car quite well.”

#15 Esteban Gutierrez (LR #13)
Contrary to his teammate, Steve seems like this track. I guess there’s no accounting for taste: “The Yas Marina Circuit is a great place to have a Formula One race… The track is pretty straightforward and I have quite a bit of mileage there. Sector one has two high-speed corners that are fun. Sectors two and three have a few tight corners, which require a lot of traction.”

#16 Jean-Eric Vergne (LR #16)

#17 Pastor Maldonado (LR #18)
So, Pastor, what are your plans for next season? “Abu Dhabi also has great weather, nice people and is generally impressive all around so it is a nice place to visit. I like the track’s first sector in particular as it is very quick, particularly Turns 2, 3 and 4, and the final sector is very picturesque.”

#18 Valtteri Bottas (LR #17)
Val talks about Yas Marina from the setup side of things: “Abu Dhabi is very different to recent tracks; the corners are quite short with lots of chicanes and big braking zones, so we will need to set the car up differently. You need good traction when exiting the corners to minimise wheel spin and your car needs to be good at taking kerbs.”

#19 Charles Pic (LR #19)
Chuckie talks about the effect of changing track temperature on the car: “The track itself is a good technical challenge for both drivers and engineers and grip levels evolve a lot as the weekend continues but one thing we have to watch closely is how the tyre behaviour changes as the track temperatures go up and down – they can differ by up to 10°c between FP3 and qualifying so understanding how to get the best out of the tyres in the different conditions is very important.”

#20 Giedo van der Garde (LR #20)
The garages in Abu Dhabi are air conditioned. The more you know: “For me Abu Dhabi’s a great place to race, for the teams and fans. People used to have a go at the circuit layout but I think it’s pretty cool. The garages are air conditioned, the only ones like that anywhere we race, and that makes life a bit easier for the boys in the garage.”

#21 Jules Bianchi (LR #21)
Don’t tell Jules how NASCAR does its night races: “Abu Dhabi is a fantastic venue to race at and I enjoyed the track a lot when I drove in FP1 last year. It’s quite exciting to be able to start a race in full daylight and finish it at night with the track artificially lit – another new and interesting experience for me.”

#22 Max Chilton (LR #22)
Max the Axe says something I’ve not heard about Yas Marina before: “It’s a great circuit, in a part of the world I love… Yas Marina Circuit is a tough track technically and physically, but I’m feeling confident and aiming for a repeat performance from India.”

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