This season the boring tracks are proving to be producing great races than the tracks where better racing is expected. So much action, drama from the start of the race to the end. And for the first time this season Kimi & Lotus won a race while Alonso ended P2 & Vettel starting from pitlane finished P3. SFI had a tough race as Nico suffered a DNF while Di Resta ended P9. Karthikeyan fell victim to Rosberg’s huge shunt suffering a DNF.
Practice Sessions, FP1:
Back to back weekends is tough for everyone and even more when both places are tough with heat. One more factor here is that it is twilight race and so the FP1 & FP3 is of little use as the temperatures then and in the evening is very different. The programme was usual for the teams though and Hamilton took the session’s honours ending P1 with Button making it 1-2 and Vettel at P3. Di Resta sat out for Bianchi, perhaps for one last time this season. Hulkenberg ended P12 while Bianchi at P15 who said he felt a lot better in the car from all his previous running. Karthikeyan sat out as well for Ma, continuing his sitting out trend.
The setting sun was providing picturesque scene at Abu Dhabi and the cooling temperature was showing some other picture as few team started to struggle a bit or what it seemed like. Vettel got ahead this time ending P1 with Hamilton at P2 & Button at P3. Di Resta & Karthikeyan both were back running in the session. Hulkenberg ended P13 while Di Resta ended P15, both seemed to struggle a bit in cooling track temperature and said they need some work overnight to find some pace. Karthikeyan was not having a great time either, ending P24 and him driving for first time, he felt the track was difficult to learn.
Another sunny afternoon welcomed the team as team focussed more on qualifying runs and finalize the set up for raceday. Hamilton stamped his authority once again ending P1 with Button making another 1-2. Vettel with limited running clocked P3 time on his final lap. SFI looked much better in this session as Hulkenberg ended P5 & Di Resta P10. Though I felt, the hot temperature had something to do with it. Karthikeyan once again had an OK session as he ended P24, he sure was having a tough time.
The three sessions only showed two teams fighting out in front with RBR & McLaren taking centerstage. Ferrari were off pace as expected, not the best sign as Alonso fights with Vette; for championship. SFI had a mixed running and weren’t looked that great but same was happening with their nearest rivals. The cooling temperatures were troubling the team a bit. Karthikeyan underestimated the technicality of the track as he struggled a bit to learn the track.
It was twilight time and the scene was stunning, always find cars under lights awesome. Teams started with their qualifying runs and results was somewhat known. Don’t tell me one gets surprised by the results. Hamilton ended P1, Rosberg P2 & Webber P3 as both SFI made it to Q2 with ease. Caterham , Marussia & HRT along with Vergne were out as Pic beat one Caterham to have his best quali run. Karthikeyan was having a tough time as he ended P24.
A tough session for the mid field teams with only Maldonado from the mid field batch making it to the top 10. Hamilton ended P1 with a stonker of a lap, Webber at P2 & Vettel at P3. SFI looked good but they didn’t have that enough pace to make it to Q3 as Hulkenberg ended P11 & Di Resta P13, they looked far better than what it was looking on Friday.
It was one man to beat situation as Hamilton was like cruising to pole position as Vettel seemed to have less pace from yesterday. It might be something to do with limited running in FP3. It was Hamilton in the end as he got on pole with Webber at P2 & Vettel at P3. Surprisingly Maldonado ended P4 ahead of Kimi & Alonso which was significant.
The championship battle got to another twist when after qualifying Vettel was DSQ due to not enough fuel in his car, he was to start from pitlane. With Alonso at P6 and Vettel effectively from way behind, thing doesn’t get better. For SFI, it was one thing only score points and more than what Sauber will. Hulkenberg moved to P10 while Di Resta P11 and Karthikeyan to P23 who would want to finish the race.
After Singapore, this is one race which looks super on TV. It is unique from Singapore with it being twilight rather than whole night race. Abu Dhabi being a slow track and low on overtaking front provides less dramatic races but everything changed in 2012. Even before the start of GP, the interesting build up had started with Vettel starting from pitlane after being DSQ from qualifying. Coming to the race, the start was fine for Hamilton but it was a super start for Kimi who moved ahead of slow starter Webber & got past Maldonado easily. Behind them the Sauber’s made a good progress but two SFI’s had a terrible start with Hulkenberg suffering a DNF & Di Resta a puncture sending him right at the back of the field. Karthikeyan made a stedy start moving ahead of the Marussia’s.
Vettel was making some good progress from behind but it wasn’t easy. In the process he damaged his front wing but carried on. Up ahead, Hamilton took some lead over Kimi as Webber fought with Maldonado & Alonso but losing out in the end. He lower half had interesting battles with Schumacher, Sauber’s, Toro Rosso’s fighting for championship points. Even the Caterham’s & Marussia’s were in a big fight. Karthikeyan’s hydraulic problem slowed him and caught Rosberg unaware as he crashed heavily with him calling out the first SC. It was a huge shunt but both drivers were safe in the end. Vettel after making ground had to get back after he hit the DRS board further damaging his front wing.
It was actually both SFI coming together which resulted in Hulk’s DNF & Di Resta’s puncture. It is only second DNF for Hulk while third for the team. Di Resta was dead last and was making ground alongside Grosjean and Vettel for a brief moment. He did well to get back into points after two early stops. The SC helped him quite a lot there but he had some good pace to hang in there. He had a great fight with Grosjean, Perez but he overtook Grosjean and kept Perez at bay to move to P5. The second SC compromised a bit as he had to pit and go back to P11 and somewhat start again.
Towards the end of the race, the 4 world champions were giving us some great action. Kimi was just driving a faultless race and clearly he didn’t any help. Alonso started pushing as he started lapping faster than Kimi. Vettel finally managed to overtake Button to reach to P3, that was some drive. In the end Kimi took his first comeback win and the 8th different winner this season with Lotus becoming 6th different winner. Alonso ended P2 salvaging 3 points from Vettel as he finished P3 after starting from pitlane and twice coming from behind, keeping 10 points lead over Alonso. Di Resta ended P9 after overtaking the Toro Rosso’s and came close to overtake Senna. He too had to comeback from behind and to score points in this way, even 2 means like 20.
The championship battle heats up as Vettel still maintain a good lead, the next two races will be fantastic, any mistake from either team/driver, it’s over for them. There’s team battling in CC as 29 points gap to Sauber while 22 with Williams, it is safe to say that there P7 position is somewhat safe but anything and everything can happen. Also, they need 5 points to score 100 points in a season which will be first time for them. Next up after two weeks gap is Austin GP (or US GP), a new track for all which makes it difficult and interesting. It has been hectic weekends for teams, drivers and even me. Till US GP, everyone stay safe.