F.1 – GP Abu Dhabi: THE POINT…by Gian Carlo Minardi

We saw an exciting GP, with the 4 World Champions occupying the first four places. Fernando Alonso ran a good race; once again the Spaniard was able to make the best use of his car’ s potential; Raikkonen finally made it onto the highest step of the podium with his Lotus.
As we pointed out last weeks, Kimi and Hamilton can play the role of killjoys in the Championship, even if, once again, the McLaren Englishman was deceived by the reliability of his car. On the contrary, reliability still supports the “Scuderia” and helped the Italian team to recover from a difficult weekend. Fernando couldn’t do more than he did. He had a very good start and the strategy was characterized by a lower down-force. The Spaniard was very good in managing the car since the beginning, with the car filled up with petrol. He didn’t make any mistake and the laps he ran looked like “qualifying laps”. He made three points up, which is so important with the racing season coming to an end. He finished second, behind a very performing Raikkonen who scored the 18th good result to preserve the third place in the standing. A good performance also for Sebastian Vettel who, after a big mistake made by his team ( or made by the engine supplier), was able to recover, supported by a very performing Red Bull, but also by luck. Thanks to the safety car two re-starts, the German driver was able to recover from his pit-lane start and managed to finish third. If he had pitted one lap later, everything would have changed. What is more, some cars which were just ahead of him and could have hindered him, got off the race. Therefore, we don’t have to forget the alliance with the “Scuderia Toro Rosso” who made overtaking easier for him.
The closing stages will be exciting, with two drivers technically in the world championship battle. For sure, Fernando will have to make no mistakes and will rely on other drivers’ mistakes. The two Red Bull were weak under pressure. The English-Austrian team has a better car, but, as far as reliability and team management are concerned, it is second to the Ferrari cars. The Ferrari had many problems in bringing tyres to the right temperature. In re-start and qualifying, the Ferrari gives something to rivals, but later it was able to set some fastest laps In the last lap the Italian car was overreached by Vettel on soft tyres.
We missed the two second leaders, Webber and Massa. The Australian had a messy start and wasn’t able to recover. The Brazilian made a mistake after a clash with the Red Bull driver. He didn’t have enough sangfroid to manage the situation. Webber should have left that position to the Brazilian to avoid penalty. He could have given Vettel a rough ride , as well.
One more disappointing race for Mercedes, out of the score zone, while Williams, Sauber and Force India ran a very good race. Despite a KERS problem, Maldonado ran a very good race. Senna was involved in an accident during the first laps, so he dropped to the bottom of the standing. Unfortunately Perez made some mistakes because of which the team didn’t score important points.
The next two races will be hard to foresee. Drivers will play it hard until the end and those out of the championship battle will act as the balance of power.
Gian Carlo Minardi