F1 : The Best of the Rest

11/11/2011 06:18

The World Championship may have been decided in Sebastian Vettel’s favour but, for that very reason, the top drivers at Yas Marina Circuit feel they have a point to prove.

Take Lewis Hamilton, for example. You could argue that the 2008 World Champion is the fastest F1 driver over a single lap. But, as the McLaren driver’s erratic progress has shown, the race lasts for an hour and 40 minutes and consists of more than just one lap.

Hamilton has had a nightmare year so far, highlighted by several collisions rather than his two excellent wins in China and Germany. Hamilton desperately needs to get his season and his reputation back on track; the best way to do it would be to drive the race of his life at Yas Marina Circuit on 13 November. There is no reason why he shouldn’t.

Part of Hamilton’s problem has been the exceptional form shown by Jenson Button in the other McLaren-Mercedes. Button seems to have become more relaxed and happy in direct proportion to Hamilton’s increasing state of unease and self-inflicted tension. As a result, Button has driven better than ever, the 2009 World Champion taking three wins, among them a superb victory in Canada as he snatched the lead from Vettel on the last lap of one of the most dramatic races of the season.

When it comes to never giving up, Fernando Alonso heads that category and can never be overlooked on any race weekend if his Ferrari proves to be even remotely competitive. More than anything else, Alonso comes to the Yas Marina Circuit wishing to expunge the memory of last year when the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was the last race of the season and Alonso lost the World Championship to Vettel.

Mark Webber will have similar feelings when he takes to a track on which he, too, could have been crowned champion.  Webber has had a disappointing year, not because he has done anything particularly wrong or driven badly but simply because Vettel in the other Red Bull has raised his game to even greater heights. Webber has beaten Vettel in the past. He desperately wants to do it again this weekend and take a much needed first win of 2011.

The same argument applies to Felipe Massa, the Ferrari driver overshadowed by Alonso even though the Brazilian has qualified ahead of the double world champion on a number of occasions. With Massa’s future with Ferrari on the line, he must, at the very least, get onto the podium for the first time this season.

Massa is not alone in wanting to sign off on a high note. With the season heading towards its final race in Brazil on 27 November, many of the 24 drivers want to place their names in the reckoning for contracts for 2012. There is a lot to play for, particularly in the midfield where Sauber, Toro Rosso and Force India are locked in a fierce struggle over sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship. That gives us another six drivers who will be fighting just as hard as the six at the front.

It’s a race not to be missed, no matter where you look.

( Source : yasmarinacircuit.com/ymccommblog/?p=1482 )