Monday, December 24, 2012

F1-Geeks Armchair Team Principal - Round 18 - The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - The Yas Marina Circuit

Abu Dhabi
The largest artificially lit sporting venue on the planet.  If the Singapore and Monaco circuits had a baby, it would be Yas Marina.  This circuit always reminds me of The Covenant's Carbine rifle and gives the drivers some interesting challenges. 

After the turmoil and uncertainty earlier this year, I'm glad the race stayed on the calendar. 

This year they've lengthened the DRS zones a bit and it looks like it's going to be a great race. 

Vettel is on cruise control with four race wins in a row.  He's on track to be the youngest three-time world champion and the first person to ever win their first three in a row. 

Let's see how it goes shall we?

I always forget I like this track until I watch it.  The sky blue track accents, the tunnel pit exit, and the sun. 

I love when the environment is a factor in a race.  There is an intangible element of challenge that not only provides some unpredictability but provides some proof of skill.   If you want to be world champion you better know how to drive in the world. 

The sun obscures part of the track at first and then to show it harbors no true malice, sinks quickly beneath the horizon and the lights come up.  The cars look even better than they do in Singapore.  The shallow sun angle really gives amazing specular highlights and the artificial lights mixed with natural sunlight looks great.

Favorite Track Feature
The double DRS zones.  This isn't the first track of the year with two DRS sections but I really like how they are right next to each other.  Separated only by a chicane, this gives the passed car a chance to get the position back.  This makes Yas Marina the only place where DRS is properly implemented

Favorite Easter Egg
Everyone has glitter on their helmets.  It looks good in the setting sun..  I'm sure they call it "gold flake" or some other non-girly term but it's very My Little Pony.

For those of you keeping track, this was the helmet Vettel wore for qualifying and the race.  I like this one.  Particularly the off-axis Vettel logo.  This does have the same My Little Pony effect though.

Q1  Redbulls stay in until everyone else is out and then Vettel hits the wall on the exit of turn 19.  Drama?  Excitement?  Nope.  A normal Q1 and we get to watch the back-markers do their thing.

Q2  Senna disappoints.  I always want to see him in Q3 but this time, with Maldonado sitting on the edge, he could have kept him from moving on.

Q3 Raikkonen out first again.  Maldonado out last and then jumps up to 3rd like a pool-boy crashing the country club dinner party.  Luckily Webber, and Vettel remind him of his social status.

Hamilton on pole, Vettel 3rd, and then, Vettel's car stops on the track (as ordered by the team) and he has to catch a ride to the press conference.  Surprise surprise, Vettel goes from 3rd spot to no spot.  Being penalized for not having enough fuel to return to the pits he is excluded from qualifying altogether.  In order to remind Vettel where he was supposed to be after qualifying, he is forced to start from the pits.  Even worse, he doesn't get to roll until everyone is past turn 1.

The Race
Everyone is ready to go and they roll off for the formation lap.
Well, not quite.  An HRT gets a tire blanket stuck in the spokes and the mechanics run back to work it free.  On the plus side they manage to get the playing card and clothes-pin rig set up properly so they make a really cool noise when they start to get some speed.

Lights out...
Raikkonen gets a great start and moves to 2nd.
A really nice set of moves from Alonso.  Grosjean tries to play it safe and loses a tire.

Raikkonen puts a ton of pressure on Hamilton and Vettel tries too hard, gets some wing damage, but  keeps passing until things start to happen.

Lap 20 Hamilton slows and he has to pull out of the race.  Suddenly Raikkonen, (coincidentally the name of the longest running sitcom in Finland) is in first place and Maldonado starts to dedicate this podium to Hugo Chavez and gets the chicane all wrong.  Alonso doesn't need any more than that and passes Maldonado.

Vettel, who pitted at the second safety car, tries to make the soft tires last 40+ laps and as the rest of the field pits, he moves up to 2nd.  Past everyone except Raikkonen.

Some crazy coolness ensues.  Vettel's tires don't last, they bring him in and this sets up the drama for the end.  Raikkonen hangs on and takes first, Alonso second, and Vettel third.  We really liked seeing Raikkonen win a race.  Good times.

Favorite Quotes
Alonso when asked about how it felt to be behind his championship rival and then miles ahead of him.  "Well it was a strange Saturday for sure...

Raikkonen upon being told how far ahead he is of Alonso, "Leave me alone, I know what I'm doing."

Honorable mention goes to both Raikkonen and Vettel for their profanity on the podium.  It was perfect for it's placement but Raikkonen's was best as he mocked the press for hassling him for being expressionless.

Favorite Moment
Vettel passing Button toward the end.  Not for the position gained but more for how clean both of them drove.  F1-Geeks admits we really like Jenson.

Next up.  Austin, TX.  Yee Haa people.  I'm telling you.  Texas kicks ass.

Raikkonen attempts a David Blaine trick to fool the "stupid poopy heads" in the press.
Image totally stolen without permission from the UK Daily Mail

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