Sportsdesk | November 3, 2013
We’re about three and a half hours from race time, so now’s as good a time as any to offer up Graham Caygill’s five things to keep an eye on at Yas Marina Circuit ahead of today’s Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
1. Pole pressure: Mark Webber has a poor record at converting pole positions into leads at the start of races. In his previous 12 attempts the Red Bull Racing driver has only succeeded four times, and only once in the past seven. The Australian’s hopes of a first win this year will be boosted if he can hold the lead coming out of Turn 1.
2. One-stop showdown: There has been little degradation on the Pirelli tyres, so a one-stop strategy appears most likely for the majority. Following Kimi Raikkonen’s disqualification from qualifying, the top nine will start on softs and they will look to build enough of a gap in the first 15 laps to have time to pit and avoid being held up by traffic.
3. Alonso’s recovery: As a rule, Fernando Alonso and Ferrari usually run better on a Sunday than a Saturday, so expect better from the Spaniard today after yesterday’s below-par qualifying. Starting 10th, and with the option to start on either soft or hard tyres, do not be surprised to see the double world champion make a strong move up the order and challenge for a top-six finish.
4. Hulkenberg’s challenge: Nico Hulkenberg’s drives to fifth in Italy and fourth in Korea were two of the best of the season in the under-funded Sauber. The German is well poised for another strong result starting from fifth. With his future still undecided for next year, Hulkenberg will be keen to showcase his talent and challenge for a top-five spot.
5. Button’s challenge: Jenson Button has always gone well at Yas. He finished in third place the first three years and then was fourth in 2012. Matching those results today will be a tall order, however, as a disappointing qualifying session will see him start 12th. The McLaren-Mercedes driver will need his rivals to suffer misfortune if he is to finish in the top six.