Today saw the penultimate Grand Prix of the 2011 season, taking place at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. Sebastian Vettel started on pole – a place where, arguably, he’s rather been at home during 2011 and it looked as though it was going to be another Red Bull dominating win. Er, until a rogue tyre had other ideas and Sebastian’s right-rear tyre died on the second corner of the first lap. It was presumably a puncture, but no one knows for sure.
Sebastian’s misfortune (which doesn’t really matter because he’s already won the World Championship, he’s basically just looking at a) get a bigger points margin and b) trying to beat more fastest lap/most wins in a season/whatever records) meant a win for second-placed starter Lewis Hamilton who lead pretty much from start to finish, only losing the lead after pit stops. Fernando Alonso came second after starting fifth (yes, Fernando actually managed to pass people and keep his pesky hard-tyred Ferrari in second!!) and Jenson Button completed the podium.
The race wasn’t exactly brilliant. I mean, at the end of the day, everything is almost wrapped up. There’s been a real lack of battles at the front of the grid this season, with whoever is winning (usually Sebastian) usually romping off to victory, and today was no different. Fernando would close up by a couple of tenths, but then Lewis just increased his pace. It looked as if there might have been a big Button/Webber/Massa battle, but that faded as quickly as it started and any passes made in the first DRS zone were quickly nullified as the passee usually got back past during the second DRS zone. For all my complaints, though, I loved that Fernando got a second place. He seems to just take that Ferrari to another level and you’d think that if Ferrari could just get it right, get it fast, he might be able to actually do something with it.
A major issue during the race was the backmarkers not getting out of the way properly when blue flags were waved. While I can understand the frontrunners getting annoyed, where the heck do they expect the backmarkers to go? If you’re lapping the midfield cars then they’re invariably fighting their own battles and I do find it all rather silly that they’re expected to just disappear and perhaps lose places in the process all so Hamilton or whomever can get past with ease. Maldonando was penalised twice for it, Alguersuari once, and I think something needs to be done. Overtaking under blue flags during corners is just never going to work so either the frontrunners need to make it past themselves, or they should wait for a straight. Inevitably all the tracks have at least one straight. I just find it unfair how the midfield cars should just disappear when they’re running their own races. (Obviously I would probably change my mind if Fernando got held up – I’m fickle like that – but it just seems silly the backmarkers have to trip themselves up to keep the frontrunners happy.)
Overall, it was just OK. I’m not a big fan of Abu Dhabi – there’s a real lack of overtaking there and it’s just not a memorable track. The bright lights are cool, but the track itself seems soulless with far too much run-off area that the drivers take too much of an advantage of. I wish there was a way to make the racing a bit more exciting. I’m all for strategies and what not, but it’s a shame the cars just aren’t close enough to really battle. In my dream scenario, everyone just drives the same car. That would be AWESOME because they would all be THE SAME. In theory, anyway. But that’s never ever going to happen. We’re off to Brazil in two weeks (metaphorically speaking; I’m not going to Brazil, though that would be cool…). I LOVE Brazil. It’s a race that’s always exciting and it always seems to produce good racing. I’m hoping Fernando wins. It could happen…