Nov 13 2010

F1: Yas Marina Qualifying

Well this is it, last race of the season.  I won’t kid you, my guy Lew needs to finish first and everyone else has to park.  To add insult Hamilton was under investigation for an incident with Senna during practice and could suffer a 5 grid penalty.

The Constructors’ Championship is already done- Red Bull, McLaren, Scuderia Marlboro.  Fair enough I suppose, the others were playing catchup to Red Bull all year.  It’s a big triumph for the former Jaguar/Ford team which knew nothing but futility in it’s previous incarnation.  They’re now the biggest in Formula One too, with 2 separate groups (Toro Rosso, running the Ferrari engine) and 4 cars on track.

Speaking of engines, the Top contenders are all on used engines and are using different ones today than they used yesterday in practice.  Both the Red Bull drivers have relatively low milage, ultra reliable Renaults, everyone else is running the best they have left.  Barrichello’s stopped during the first practice.

Yas Marina is about 3.4 miles and because of it’s long straight and a couple of other fast bits can put a lot of strain on brakes.  It’s a relatively new track and while it’s designed to resemble Monaco it’s really nothing like it at all.  Yeah, sure, there are high walls and stuff, but they’re mostly not as close as they look on TV.  Instead there are acres of smooth asphalt run off areas, no gravel traps at all.  This has the unintended(?) side effect of making drivers more aggressive since there is rarely a parking penalty for an off.

Now you’d naturally think that being in Abu Dhabi and all you wouldn’t have to worry about rain, but it did in fact, quite heavily, just before yesterday’s practice and at practice time it was 80 degrees with 60% humidity.  The drivers won’t have to worry about ‘rubbering in’ the track though since after almost 2 months of down time the support races in GP 3 and GP 2 will stage their season finales before the main event (Speed’s coverage of GP 2 starts at 6 am).

About that rubber, next year Pirelli is taking over from Bridgestone as the sole source supplier to Formula One and they’re already talking about deliberately putting out ‘risky’ tires to encourage ‘tire management strategies’.

Well, for one thing they’re tactics not strategies and were I a driver that would certainly give me a warm fuzzy feeling inside, especially after parking.

Branson’s toy Virgin team has sold off the Lloyd’s Bank stake to Russian Sports Car manufacturer Marussia who would dearly love to have Petrov on the team next year, but it would be a big step down from Renault for him.

After this racing starts again on March 12th, 2011 with Qualifying in Bahrain and they’ll be adding a 20th race in India.  If you want to see some of the other changes click the link.

I think I’ll spare you my comparison of Auto World and Ferrari World until tomorrow.  Pre-race coverage starts at 7:30 am.  Qualifying will repeat at 4:30 pm.  Surprising developments (if any) below.

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