Jenson Button and Brawn GP may have wrapped up the Championship at Interlagos but there is still more important battle to be fought on track apart from the grand debut of the 1st ever Abu Dhabi GP at the Yes Marina Circuit which is not only the 2nd grand prix in the Middle East but this race is the first twilight race in F1’s history and this race would want to be the Monaco of the East.
Though Button can relax his teammate Barrichello is locked into a fierce battle for the 2nd place in the driver’s championship with Red Bull’s Vettel. Though Vettel leads only by 2 points, this seesaw battle has seen both drivers swapping places nearly at the end of each race so anything can happen and both cars are evenly matched at this circuit which has one the longest straight lines in F1. Brawn though may have won the Championships is yet to secure Button’s signature for the next season and if things do get hostile after yet another contract talk deadlock, McLaren may once again have the #1 car on the gird.
Though both Brawn and McLaren looks strong in practice Red Bull is not too far off and both Webber and Vettel will be looking for a strong showing during the race but McLaren with KERS will have a slight edge over rest of the field. Hamilton for the first time in his career is going into the last race without having the pressure of having to win the championship. He will be the favourite going into the race and he would want to finish 2009 on a high. His only condolence could be finishing ahead of Kimi who can actually race with Hamilton at McLaren for the next season. Heikki Kovalainen did not make the most of his chances at McLaren and it is certain that he would not race for them for 2010 but he would want to leave the team at a high.
Ferrari may have given up on the season but both its drivers will be pumped up for what could be both men’s last race. Kimi though may still end up with a race seat but teammate Fisi has signed on as a tester for the team and though he may still drive for one of the teams but unless Sauber gets an entry, the Ferrari powered team may have Fisi behind the wheels for them. It is highly important in terms of ego for Ferrari as they are behind McLaren by just a point and Ferrari would want to finish ahead of their arch rivals while Kimi too would want to finish ahead of Hamilton who also happens to lead Kimi by a point. Fisi will be hoping for some good luck as though he may be living a dream, but his departure from Force India was just when the team went through a surge and at times were on par with the likes of even McLaren and Brawn.
BMW Sauber will have mixed feelings going into this race as this is the last race for the BMW team. Though the team has supplied engines to the likes of Brabham in the 80’s and Williams during the early part of this decade, but apart from this season, ever since BMW took over Sauber, the team has been a force to reckon with and till last season, it overtook Williams and joined the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and Renault as the new big 4 of F1. Though Kubica has secured a drive, his teammate Nick Heidfeld is yet to secure a drive and he has been linked to every other team with a vacant spot and he definitely would like to end his Sauber career a team with which he has driven for most of his career in both the BMW and the Petronas avatars.
Toyota has had a last minute revival and though Trulli had an intense battle with Force India’s Sutil outside the track, the team will be hoping for a good show on a track which is fast paced and which could help them but everyone will be looking at Kamui Kobayashi who has the speed and the driving skills to become the next Sato a highly entertaining gutsy driver though may not be consistent always but would not mind banging wheels with anyone on the track. Another good show here may seal a seat with Toyota for the next season.
Williams will have a wholesome change for 2010 as not only have they announced a new engine partnership with Cosworth but also will have a total new driver line-up for the next year. They are most likely to filed veteran Brazilian Barrichello and rookie German protégé Hülkenberg who is managed by Weber the same guy who did manager Schumacher during his glory days. Frank Williams has already given hints that Rosberg would drive for a Mercedes powered team and that could be only one of the 2 between Brawn and McLaren.
Alonso is very emotional about having his last race for Renault and this time it could actually be his last race for the French team as he would want to retire from the sport with Ferrari but then Kimi said the same thing and he could infact be making a dramatic comeback for 2010 with McLaren but Alonso doing once again with Renault may not happen. Teammate Romain Grosjean needs to drive his best ever he has drive so far if he has to retain his Renault seat for 2010.
Both STR and Force India are strong but Force India with more experienced drivers seem to be in a better position to score points while STR thought maybe in reckoning but the drivers at times make errors to just throw a race from point scoring positions and on a new technically challenging track, they need to be at their best.
Abu Dhabi GP has made tall claims on wanting to be the Monaco of the East but with a twilight race and a brilliantly designed track, they may end up having that distinction if they race turned out to be “Any One Can Win” race. Yes Marina circuit is a great addition to the F1 calendar and this track will definitely separate the talented drivers from the rest.
Abu Dhabi GP Top 8 Predictions:
1. Sebastien Vettel
2. Lewis Hamilton
3. Jenson Button
4. Mark Webber
5. Rubens Barrichello
6. Kimi Räikkönen
7. Heikki Kovalainen
8. Sebastien Buemi