Final GP of 2010
at Abu Dhabi this weekend
The Abu Dhabi Yas Marina grand prix circuit hosts the
final GP of 2010 this weekend. Abu Dhabi is the most oil-rich in the region
and the 5.55 kilometre Yas Marina Circuit has been built using the
motorists’ money, extracted at the petrol pumps. Roll on electric power! It
was also one of the most boring race tracks in living memory at its debut
last year and was universally christened ‘Yawn’ Marina.
Located on Yas Island, the PR blurb said the track was
set to revolutionize the design of future Formula One circuits. Boasting top
speeds of 320 km/h and average speeds of 198 km/h, it features nine right
turns and 11 left turns and is one of the few venues on the calendar to run
in an anti-clockwise direction.
It was designed by circuit architect Hermann Tilke (so
need I say more), and Yas Marina has a waterfront setting scenic enough to
rival the likes of Monaco and Valencia, complete with a hotel that even
changes color, but was just as boring as that former pair of venues.
All of the grandstands, including the massive hairpin
seating area, are covered to protect spectators from the desert sun, whilst
the state-of-the-art pit building boasts 40 garages.
As well as the waterside marina area, there are
high-speed sections, tight corners for overtaking, and even a twisty street
circuit-style sector. However, none of this prevents Yas (Yawn) Marina from
being boring if the F1 cars cannot pass each other.
The race will start at 8 p.m. our time, and I will be
getting to Jameson’s Irish Pub around 7 p.m. for a bite to eat (carvery is
great value) and a glass or two. Come and join us for the second Abu Dhabi
Grand Prix. Jameson’s is on Soi AR, next to Nova Park serviced apartments.
What did we learn from
Well, we learned that Nico Hulkenberg does have the
speed, even if he hasn’t got the dollars to secure his seat at Williams. He
has taken a little while to settle into F1, but his qualifying time of one
second quicker than Vettel and Webber in the Red Bulls was simply
sensational! He deserves to retain his seat at Williams, but Sir Frank has
hardly been the patron saint of his drivers, having sacked a couple of world
champions who dared to ask for a pay rise.
With much hanging on the result, as far as the World
Driver’s Championship (WDC) was concerned, it would have been nice to report
that it was a cliff-hanger with tooth and nail scraps right the way through
to the end. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Quite frankly, it was once more a high
speed procession brought about by slower cars such as Hulkenberg’s Williams
in race trim (as opposed to qualifying spec) or Sutil’s Force India holding
up the pack.
Much made in the press about threats to Jenson Button,
which was just a harmless bunch of gun-toting Brazilian peasants taking a
stroll in shanty town, without much else. However, the would-be Brazilian
robbers tried more on the Sauber team. Did they not do their homework and
find that the Sauber team has no money? All they got were two back packs.
An amazing race for the Russian Vitaly Petrov in the
Renault. He did not hit anything or anyone. A first, surely. His team mate
Kubica had an inglorious race, stuck in traffic and getting nowhere. I did
mention that it was a procession, didn’t I? But finishing is what Vitaly
will be doing after this week’s Abu Dhabi. May as well get the packing done
during the week, as we won’t see you next year, no matter how many Lada’s
you bring with you.
For me, the ‘star’ of the lack-luster race was Jenson
Button. 11th to 5th was not a
bad effort, especially while carrying a loaded AK 47 in the cramped cockpit.
Much is written in the popular press as to how fast and
uncatchable were the two Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber. It might be of
interest to note that the fastest race laps were set by Hamilton (McLaren),
Alonso (Ferrari) and Button (McLaren). Webber and Vettel were only fourth
and sixth fastest.
The safety car rules are quite incomprehensible. The
order behind the safety car does not reflect the real order in the race at
that point. Webber in fourth behind two back markers, even though he was
actually in second, and Hamilton way down the back, even though he was in
Through the wonders of the internet, we watched the BBC
coverage of the race, with no interruptions; however, we can now appreciate
the abuse heaped on the head of Jonathan Legard, the BBC talking head. Where
did they get him from? A kindergarten program? I object to being talked down
to and listen to inanities such as, “He’s coming out of the pits now,” when
I can see that for myself.
Problems with loose wheels for Massa (Ferrari) and
Barichello (Williams). Hopefully the FIA Health and Safety committee didn’t
notice this, or otherwise there will be an edict stating that changing
wheels is banned for 2011.
WDC points currently stand at Alonso (246 - including 7
points “illegally” gained through team orders), Webber (238), Vettel (231)
and Hamilton (222). Only the top three have any real chance of coming out on
top. If Vettel wins, Alonso only has to come 5th to
secure the championship. If Webber wins in Abu Dhabi, Alonso has to finish 2nd.
Local lad making good!
Remember this name - Sandy Stuvik. I have mentioned Sandy
before, but he is now officially the strongest hope that Thailand has of having
a representative in Formula 1 in the future. Still only 15 years of age, Sandy
has been tops in every category he has competed in, from go-karts through to
Formula Renault. Yes, at 15 years of age he has just won the Asian Formula
Renault series, even though there are still two rounds to go! In the 12 races in
the Asian series the Pizza Company/Dacon sponsored young Norwegian/Thai driver
has been on the podium 12 times, a feat no other driver has managed.
Todt and Sandy Stuvik
The Royal Automobile Association of Thailand and the Sports
Authority of Thailand introduced Sandy to Jean Todt, the president of the FIA
who was in Bangkok on his way back to Europe after the Korean GP, saying that
the hopes of Thailand were resting on his young shoulders.
Having very convincingly won the F. Renault Asia, Sandy’s
next step will most likely be the European Formula Renault series, again
depending upon the level of sponsorship required. Getting to the top in motor
racing is an expensive business.
I know Sandy personally and he is a very personable and
polite young lad and will be an excellent ambassador for Thailand, but it is a
long way to F1. I saw Mark Webber as a 17 year old with enormous promise in
Australia many years ago, and it has been a very difficult road for him to be
only now challenging for the World Driver’s Championship. I hope it will not
take Sandy as long!
Brabus SV12 R Biturbo
Brabus, that modifier of Mercedes vehicles has come up with
what must be the ‘ultimate’ four door limousine, the Brabus SV12 R Biturbo.
Try these for supercar numbers - zero to 100 km/h in 3.9
seconds and zero to 200 km/h in only 10.3 seconds. To produce acceleration
figures like that from a two tonne four door sedan requires an enormous number
of neddies and incredible torque. The SV12 R Biturbo develops 588 kW from the
S-Class Mercedes-Benz’s twin-turbo V12 power plant and 1420 Nm (1047 lb-ft) of
torque, but Brabus limits its output to 1100 Nm (812 lb-ft) to keep its gearbox
internals inside the casing. Top speed? You should see 350 km/h (217 mph in the
old money). It is not a high-revving engine, with peak torque at 2100 RPM and
peak power at 5500 RPM.
To do this, Brabus took the 5.5 liter Mercedes V12 out to 6.3
liters, by enlarging both bore and stroke. The whole engine is balanced, has
high performance camshafts, flowed cylinder heads, a carbon-fiber air intake
system, four water-to-air intercoolers for the two turbo chargers and a
quadruple exhaust system.
The SV12 R Biturbo 800 uses enormous 12-piston, fixed
aluminium brake calipers on a 380 mm x 36 mm steel front braking system, and
there are six-piston calipers with 355 mm x 28 mm discs at the rear, to provide
more than double the braking power of the standard S-Class.
Brabus also modified the Active Body Control’s computer to
lower the ride height 15 mm to minimize body roll and to help keep the
aerodynamics more stable at high speed
It would be hard to imagine any four door sedan being as
quick as this. Price? I have no idea, but does it matter?