Formula 1: Abu Dhabi Preview, Notes, and Rants

Victor GenovaContributor INovember 12, 2010

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 11: (L-R) F1 World Championship contenders Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing, Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and McLaren Mercedes and Mark Webber of Australia and Red Bull Racing pose for a photograph at the drivers press conference during previews to the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 11, 2010 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Getty Images)
Vladimir Rys/Getty Images

This Sunday will be the final showdown in Abu Dhabi. Mathematically, four drivers have a shot at the title. But in reality, there are two in the mix. 

Fernando Alonso only needs to pop his Ferrari into cruise control to take home the title. Mark Webber, on the other hand, needs a bit more help. Even if he does win the race, he’ll need someone in between himself and Alonso if he wants to take the Drivers’ Championship.

Sebastian Vettel has a chance, and should not be discounted. But if the good people at Red Bull would like to see their names on the front page of every sports section Monday morning, then they will ask (tell) young Vettel to play second fiddle to his teammate.

I’m sure Christian Horner and the rest of the Red Bull army have sat Vettel down, and explained what they need from him. Yes, Horner has said otherwise on record, but let’s be honest: Why is Red Bull in Formula 1?

Simple, to sell more Red Bull.

No doubt owning their own team has given them marketing power only a select group of companies in history have ever enjoyed.

The irony behind this is that Ferrari, their closest rival, couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the marketing benefits of Formula 1. Winning the Drivers’ Championship won’t sell any more Enzo’s. Those are typically bought and paid for before the first one rolls out of the plant in Maranello. The press that Ferrari gains merely reminds everyone in the world how awesome the prancing horse is.

After the big three, you have Lewis Hamilton, who, in typical Hamilton fashion, has declared that the “pressure is off” for the championship. As much as I’d like to be cynical about his comment, I actually agree. Even if he can’t win the championship, a Hamilton race win would surely throw the standings up in the air for the other three.

The Drivers’ Championship, though, isn’t the only thing making news on the eve of Abu Dhabi.

Lotus Racing (if I can still call them that) is stuck in an ongoing identity crisis with Lotus Cars.

Lotus Racing acts as if it’s business as usual, but one can’t help but notice how they’ve stopped referring to themselves by name in their pressers. To make matters even more confusing, there are rumors that Lotus Cars is looking to buy into Renault.

And that’s not taking into account the engine deal Lotus Racing has with Renault for next season.

Confused? I am.

And for a taste of nostalgia, Lotus Racing looks set to revive the old black-and-gold livery that Colin Chapman’s old Lotus team used to run in the 70’s. Now, is this really nostalgia at work? Or is this a ploy for Lotus Racing to stay true to the Lotus brand, while keeping the lawyers from Lotus Cars at bay?

Also, does anyone else find it a little mad that a small sports car manufacturer might have four cars on the grid next season, while multinational automotive powerhouses like GM, Ford, Honda, Toyota, and many more won’t be anywhere near the sport?

Speaking of small sports car companies, Virgin Racing has just sold a stake in the team to Russian sports car firm Marussia Motors.

It only takes a quick glance at Marussia’s Wikipedia page to understand that the company has no direction whatsoever. I imagine that there is a Russian oligarch who became bored with his Enzo and Bugatti Veyron, and decided to start his own supercar company from the ground up.

Marussia has three models in its lineup—the B1 and B2—both of which sound more like vitamin supplements than cars, and the prototype FS2. The FS2 is Russia’s answer to a Cold War inspired version of the Cadillac Escalade, while the vitamin twins remind me of the unnamed mystery car I had to win my way to in the first Gran Turismo video game.

But enough about games and rumors. Here are my picks for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Pole: Sebastian Vettel. Win: Sebastian Vettel. Championship: Fernando Alonso.

Who do you fancy? Place your picks in the comments section below!

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