Don’t be bored: Abu Dhabi preview quotes

I know, I know. We’re not headed to our favorite track. But a weekend with a Formula 1 race is better than one without, right?

Everyone seems to be getting ready to call this season for Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull. (Yeah, yeah, Seb’s won four in a row.) But Fernando Alonso is still hanging around. And maybe Fernando can keep his incredibly, 120% driving going.

Mark Webber, Red Bull
2011 Qualifying – 4th, 2011 Race – 4th

“I like the twilight element to the race – starting in the day and finishing at night. The facilities are world class. For the track itself, you need good traction – there are slow and twisty corners, as well as a good top speed. The race has a great atmosphere and it looks good on TV for the fans at home. It’s a phenomenal spectacle and I’m looking forward to racing there.”

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull
2011 Qualifying – 1st, 2011 Race – DNF

“In just three years, the race has grown to be one of the highlights of the season. Starting at dusk and finishing in the dark makes it something unique and impressive. I have special memories of the circuit; in 2009 I won there and then repeated the victory in 2010 to win my first world championship, so it’s an event I will never forget. The circuit itself is impressive: 5.5km long, with large run-off areas and a pit lane exit that goes through a tunnel to the other side of the track.”

Jenson Button, McLaren
2011 Qualifying – 3rd 2011 Race – 3rd

“I’m really looking forward to this race weekend. I’ve always gone well around this track – I had a great battle with Mark Webber in 2009, and finished third, and Lewis and I have been on the podium together at the last two races. I think this will be another closely matched race: India showed us that the gap between the top three teams is extremely close at the moment, so I wouldn’t like to predict the exact pecking order. As in the last few races, I think Red Bull will go into the weekend with a slight advantage, but I’m confident that, with a clear run through practice, we can be right up there too. One of the most satisfying aspects of the Indian Grand Prix was that we could battle cleanly at the front – that was fantastic. While it’ll be quite tough to overtake around here – even with DRS – I’m hopeful that we can have another great battle, which would be fantastic for the fans.”

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2011 Qualifying – 2nd, 2011 Race – 1st

“The facilities in Abu Dhabi are absolutely fantastic – probably the best of any circuit in the world. I’ve always enjoyed the Yas Marina circuit – I took pole here in 2009 and led until my retirement, finished second in 2010 and won it last year – that’s a pretty good record. It’s a track where you can really push the car, which is what I most enjoy. There are a wide variety of corners – I love the fast sweeps in the first sector – and it’s incredibly satisfying to hook together a good sector through the tricky marina section of the lap. Good mechanical balance makes all the difference here because you’re always changing direction. This has also been a place where Red Bull have traditionally gone well, but our race pace was very strong throughout the race in New Delhi. I really enjoyed that race India – fourth place may have been little reward for 60 laps of flat-out effort, but I couldn’t have gone any faster. I feel confident that we can pull together a strong race weekend in Abu Dhabi.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“Another race just a week after the last gives us the perfect opportunity to maintain the positive momentum we gathered during Sunday’s Grand Prix in India. Both Jenson and Lewis drove their hearts out, and, although we weren’t able to match the Red Bulls in qualifying, their pace on Sunday afternoon, particularly during the second half of the race, was impressively strong. The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team has always gone well in Abu Dhabi – Lewis set a stunning pole at the first-ever grand prix in 2009 and led until his retirement; the last time, in fact, that we failed to get two cars home in the points. Additionally, in 2010, both Jenson and Lewis finished on the podium, while Lewis finally delivered on two years’ promise by winning spectacularly last year. It’s a circuit that both drivers enjoy, and which plays to our cars’ strengths, so I feel confident that we’ll have a strong race weekend.”

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes
2011 Qualifying – 8th, 2011 Race – 7th

“Abu Dhabi is one of the races I look forward to travelling to. The facilities there are state of the art, very modern and very attractive. The timing of the race makes it even more appealing: it’s something quite special and uniquely fun to race from day into night. Admittedly, ‘fun’ is not exactly the right word to describe the race I had on Sunday in India. However, I hope that what we learned about our car across the weekend can be translated into something positive in Abu Dhabi.”

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
2011 Qualifying – 7th, 2011 Race – 6th

“The Abu Dhabi race is one of the highlights on the calendar and every year it seems to become better and better. I really enjoy driving the track, particularly with the unusual twilight conditions, and the setting around Yas Marina is very special. On the track, tyre work will again be crucial this weekend. We are working hard on it and our goals this weekend will be to score some points and to learn for next year.”

Ross Brawn, Mercedes team principal
“The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has very quickly established itself as one of the most spectacular races on the calendar, and the Yas Marina Circuit is certainly one of the most impressive of the new Formula One venues. The weekend will also be the final home race of the season for our team with our shareholder and partner aabar based in Abu Dhabi. Our team has had a challenging time during the season-ending flyaway races so far. However, we are continuing to work hard on improving our performance, while also taking the opportunity to look at developments which will be relevant next season. We would like to end the season on a positive note, and hope to have a stronger result this weekend.”

Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“The final leg of the 2012 season set every team the challenge of racing six times in six countries over eight weekends, split between Asia, the USA and Brazil. The race in Abu Dhabi begins the second half of this cycle. Every team member has been working with total focus during this demanding period and deserves to be rewarded with better results before the season reaches its conclusion. This will be the fourth visit to Abu Dhabi which is, along with Great Britain, Germany and Malaysia, one of our home races and certainly a season highlight. The facilities in Abu Dhabi are exceptional and the spectacle of the day-night race is unique in the Formula One calendar. The Yas Marina Circuit itself is a real contrast to last weekend’s venue in New Delhi: the brakes are worked very hard, with eleven braking events around the lap; 14 of the circuit’s 21 corners are taken at 150 km/h or below; and the cars exceed 290 km/h on four separate occasions around the lap. Overtaking is difficult in spite of the long straights and many braking zones but the DRS zones significantly improved the situation last year. Overall, the level of competition behind the quickest teams has got ever closer throughout the season and a few tenths of a second in lap time can make a difference of many positions in both qualifying and the race.”

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus
2011 Qualifying – n/a, 2011 Race – n/a

“The facilities are second to none at Abu Dhabi. The track layout makes it really challenging for overtaking, while there are not too many places to pass. You really have to qualify well to be on the top, and to get a strong result from there. There are many corners and you need good overall downforce and grip. The car has to ride the kerbs very well, too. Having an evening race with a mixture of day and night makes a different challenge from circuits that we see anywhere else. We start with the sun and finish with the lights. It’s different, interesting and spectacular too. Hopefully we can be a bit smarter and use our race speed to take some more championship points. The car is good, and if we manage to qualify higher, then I think we would be in a good position to be able to take the most from the next few races.”

Romain Grosjean, Lotus
2011 Qualifying – n/a, 2011 Race – n/a

“Abu Dhabi is another exotic destination. The track is not used very much during the year which means we know we’re going to get low grip there at the start of the weekend. The track looks very nice on TV and there are many second gear corners which should suit the E20; I’m looking forward to it! I have a lot of good memories from Abu Dhabi and know it quite well. Last year I took pole position and finished second in the GP2 Asia Series race and I have also won a GT1 World Championship race there. Most recently, my return to Formula One came at this circuit in a free practice session with the team last year so I’m looking forward to returning. It’s normally sunny and a nice place to be. Let’s see what we can do.”

Eric Boullier, Lotus team principal
“I think we have some interesting developments coming for Abu Dhabi which should allow us to have more speed and even better performance from the car. Ideally this should put us in a position to have a more successful qualifying and definitely also help us in the race itself. Therefore, we look ahead to Abu Dhabi as being an interesting race for us. We will try to be in the top six for qualifying, and maintain or improve that for the race to bring some important points home.”

James Allison, Lotus technical director
“Yas Marina doesn’t have a very wide range of corners, and in fact they are all rather slow speed. This hasn’t been our favourite type of track over the season as a whole, but it is not dissimilar to Valencia and we went pretty well there.”

Pedro de la Rosa, HRT
2011 Qualifying – n/a, 2011 Race – n/a

“The Yas Marina is a circuit where braking, maximum speed and grip are essential and it’s very smooth so you can be aggressive with the height and bring out a very low car. I know the track from when I tested with Pirelli, although I’ve never taken part in the Grand Prix, and it’s a very nice circuit and even more so at night time. Our car should adapt quite well, especially in the first sector which is made up of straights and braking areas. It will be another tough challenge for our brakes so it’s very important to understand what happened in India, fix it and try to finish the race.”

Narain Karthikeyan, HRT
2011 Qualifying – n/a, 2011 Race – n/a

“I’ve never been to Abu Dhabi; it will be my first time racing there and I hope to adapt well to do the best job possible. The circuit looks fantastic and there will also be a lot of Indian fans spurring me on which is always helpful. After finishing the Indian Grand Prix in front of my home crowd I’m determined to complete another good weekend in Abu Dhabi.”

Ma Qing Hua, HRT test driver
“I’m delighted to have another chance to drive again during a Grand Prix weekend with HRT F1 Team. After my two Friday outings in Monza and Singapore, I’ve continued to work hard both physically and mentally to be well prepared for opportunities like this one. Apart from the gym and the simulator, I’ve spent a lot of time going karting as its one of the best ways to train, keep fit and stay focused. To be able to continue gaining experience in a Formula 1 car and adding more miles to my tally is essential for me right now and I want to thank the team for making it happen. I’m getting to know the car and the engineers more each time and this makes me more confident every time I step in the car. My target now is to keep on progressing and learning from the team. I’m really looking forward to getting back out on track and it will be interesting to drive at a circuit like Abu Dhabi where I have never been before.”

Luis Perez-Sala, HRT team principal
“The Yas Marina is a circuit I like with fantastic facilities and the race and everything surrounding it is spectacular. The target will be to finish with both cars after having not done in the last few races. I hope we have a good performance and that the problem we suffered with the brakes in India doesn’t reoccur in Abu Dhabi. Ma has been training and I’m happy to be giving him another opportunity to step into the car at a circuit he’ll enjoy and that will help him to continue progressing and accumulating experience.”

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director

“We will always have very fond memories of the Abu Dhabi circuit because it is where our adventure in Formula One really started: back in 2010, the teams sampled our tyres there for the very first time at the official end of season test following the grand prix. That was a very special test, as we were brand new and the teams needed to understand our tyres. We’ve returned to test in Abu Dhabi a few times since, and we actually launched our 2012 programme to the international media there as well at the beginning of this year. The reason why we’ve often chosen Abu Dhabi for our testing and for other functions is because it has a bit of everything, which enables each aspect of a tyre’s performance to be thoroughly assessed, and because the track itself features some very modern, state-of-the-art facilities. We know that the combination of the medium and the soft tyre works extremely well here, and with the teams also having plenty of data about the circuit characteristics, they should be in a strong position to construct some race strategies that will make a real difference to the outcome of the weekend. With the championship so closely balanced now, having the right strategy could quite literally decide the title. Qualifying is also really important in Abu Dhabi, so we are expecting to see some strong efforts throughout the three qualifying sessions on Saturday.”

Lucas di Grassi, Pirelli test driver
“Abu Dhabi is one of those races that is as much of a challenge for the engineers as it is for the drivers. It’s all about car balance and getting that right: the driver doesn’t make as much of a difference as he can do in places like Spa and Suzuka, for instance. In terms of infrastructure, Abu Dhabi for me is the best circuit in the world: it’s a great place for people to watch Formula One cars, with a little bit of everything and a spectacular setting. Tyre wear is not such a big issue in Abu Dhabi – good traction is the most important consideration – but the work done in free practice will be even more important than usual, as it will be vital for the teams to find a good balance on both compounds. The difference in speed between them should be quite small if the car set-up is right. With the championship coming to a close, everyone will be trying to find the last tiny advantage, so from a technical and strategy point of view it will be very interesting. With reasonably high ambient temperatures tyre warm-up should not be a problem, even with the harder compound. I would expect most teams to go with two pit stops, but some drivers might try stopping just once.”

Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber
2011 Qualifying – 16th, 2011 Race – 10th

“I find the Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi very exciting because it’s a twilight race, and the only one of the season. It’s very special to start in daylight and then race in the dark. This creates a really unique atmosphere, which I like. For me Abu Dhabi is a special race anyway because it was only my second Grand Prix back in 2009, and actually a very good one as I was able to score points. So I will go there with positive feelings. Something we need to bear in mind is that there are no GP2 cars running this year between our sessions, which means the track can be quite dusty again each time our sessions start. Anyway that’s an issue for everybody and doesn’t affect our goal to score points.”

Sergio Perez, Sauber
2011 Qualifying – 11th, 2011 Race – 11th

“Abu Dhabi is a very special place for me. It was there where I jumped into a Formula One car for the very first time. This was only two years ago, but it feels as if this test took place ages ago. Time goes by very quickly in Formula One. I had worked so hard to get into this cockpit and I remember very well all the special emotions attached to that moment. It had been a great race weekend back in 2010 anyway, because I had won the GP2 race on Saturday by a good margin of over 20 seconds. In 2012 the Grand Prix will be one of my last races for the team which gave me the chance to get into F1. I will give my utmost to get a very good result. I want to help the team to increase its championship position and for me personally I want to make sure I finish the season on a high.”

Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Sauber head of track engineering
“Abu Dhabi is a modern type track, featuring all the characteristics you can ask for – high speed, low speed, long straights and changes of direction. Compared to the tracks in Korea and India maybe it is a bit less biased towards high-speed corners. Braking stability and good traction are crucial for a good lap time because the low-speed performance is quite relevant. The tarmac is quite abrasive. Pirelli will allocate the soft and the medium compounds, which might be a little bit on the conservative side. As in India there are two DRS sections with two detection zones. One of these DRS sections has been extended which should help overtaking. But the most special thing about this event is the fact we race in the dusk. This requires us to adapt some of our work, especially in free practice one and three when it’s very hot. Free practice two is of particular importance because then the conditions are those that are most comparable to the ones we will experience in qualifying and the race.”

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