Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Groundhog Day

The winner of the Indian Grand Prix (just like every other race since 265 AD)
The winner of the Indian Grand Prix AND the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (just like every other race since 265 AD)

Previously on F1

Vettel won the Indian Grand Prix and his 4th F1 World Championship. The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed the complete lack of a blog about this race. Apologies to one and all for being totally rubbish and not getting round to doing one. We were visiting the husband’s spiritual home last week so missed the race entirely and all hope of catching the highlights was obliterated as guerrilla warfare raged in Power Towers all week. To any suspicious minds out there, I wasn’t on some kind of blog boycott because it was Sebastian Vettel’s 10th race win of the season. To have won FOUR driver’s titles by the age of 26 is a truly phenomenal, mind-blowing achievement. Does he join the pantheon of greats in F1? Undoubtedly. Do I hope that someone else wins the title next year? A big fat resounding yes.

Silverstone, 1992. Mansell's 7th win of the season.
Silverstone, 1992. Mansell’s 7th win of the season.

Vettel isn’t the first  F1 driver to have enjoyed almost total domination and nor will he be the last. The triumphant title-winning 1992 season of Nigel Mansell and most of Michael Schumacher’s title wins were wildly celebrated in Power Towers (or earlier more humble abodes) over the years. When its your favourite driver annihilating the opposition it feels pretty freaking good. Total hypocrisy? Probably. But what I will say is that the sweetest Schumacher victories were always the closest and hardest fought ones. And don’t get even get me started on Our Nige’s litany of heart-breaking near title misses before finally becoming world champion aged 39. I mean 39 years old versus 4 titles wins at the age of 26. Quite.

And so to Sky’s relentlessly epic build-up. Most of which could be merrily fast-forwarded except for the Desert Grand Prix aka a ‘lets get all the drivers doing crazy, zany stuff’ segment to trendy techno music. But hey its gets my vote. Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton were taking on Johnny ‘bad luck’ Herbert and Damon Hill in some kind of race in buggies on big sand dunes. Things got off to a bumpy start when Hamilton ploughed into the side of Hill causing him to flip upside down. Herbert won the restarted race and celebrated with some Vettel-style doughnuts. Meanwhile there was a lot of bleeping out of Lewis’s fruity language while driving…er…a sand buggy. I loved that piece! < Applauds Sky team> though still can’t actually believe Mercedes allowed their drivers to take part. Maybe they too have mentally given up on the 2013 season.

And so to #MartinsGridWalk which was starting off in the ‘job centre’ zone of the grid. Basically those drivers who could end up anywhere next season. Carl Fogarty was the only person of any interest interviewed. What a genuinely nice and knowledgeable guy.

Its Rubinho! I love Rubens Barichello (and randomly his Instagram photos should win an award for super-cuteness – small children, labradors and general life-affirming happiness) but sadly no word with Rubens. Just a few fairly dull words with Felipe Massa that I instantly forgot as I was thinking about labrador puppies.

Rubens Barrichello proving nice guys do win sometimes.
Rubens Barrichello proving nice guys do win sometimes.

Ooooooooh. The husband has just uttered ‘I’ve had a thought and you might want to put this in your blog’. Drum roll purlease…

The husband thinks one of the biggest threats to the television audience for F1 is the refusal of drivers to speak to anyone generally or only to those from their country. Hmmm. Reminds husband that not all that many years ago drivers never spoke to anyone on the grid. Long before #MartinsGridWalk which blazed the trail for all other second-rate F1 pundits, Martin Brundle was actually driving cars. Admittedly that was a very, very, very long time ago.

Actually this guy used to do a pretty good job as an interviewer.
Actually this guy used to do a pretty good job as an interviewer.

I don’t actually know who qualified where except that Webber was on pole and Kimi was now at the back of the grid so it was truly a voyage into the unknown!

Time for the start and Go Go Go!

And you know what it doesn’t matter not knowing about qualifying as by the very first corner bloody Vettel led the race. PORTENT OF DOOM. Kimi was out of the race. Wow he really, really can’t be arsed with driving a Lotus anymore can he? And we heard that Jenson Button had clobbered a Force India. So it was 1. Vettel 2. Rosberg (with a 75% chance of his car developing a problem) 3. Webber (with a 90% chance of his car developing a problem) 4. Grosjean (with a 50% chance of crashing) and 5. Hamilton (might scrape a podium if all the stars align).

Lap 4 and Vettel was 3.2 seconds clear. I think we all know how this is going to end.


[Many hours later]

And Vettel won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Which was utterly, crushingly inevitable from the moment he took the lead at the start.

I would post a race report but my viewing was interrupted round about lap 4 by the unexpected arrival of Mr Eau Rouge Snr who had popped round with some fruit juice for the sprogs (they were somewhat underwhelmed too) and to discuss some not very important issues that were on his mind. Not quite what I had planned for Sunday afternoon but lets move on. Anyway the Window of Opportunity (which is never massively ajar at the best of times) to have some sofa time and catch up on the race was firmly slammed shut as the departure of Mr Eau Rouge Snr brilliantly segued into the ritual carnage of small children’s bath-time and bed-time. I like his style. If only I too could escape the internecine warfare that rages in our house between 6 and 8pm every day. And by the time I sat down, clinging to a large glass of rose wine the hem of sanity, I casually flicked onto Twitter which I had been avoiding so as not to discover the race result, only to then discover the race result.


And you know what? I can probably live without watching one more soporifically boring Vettel race win. I’m pretty much over this season already although perversely I am enormously excited about next season. It was always going to be a wildly unpredictable and landmark season with next year’s rule changes being the Biggest For A Generation (Sky won’t big that up at all…much!) and the fact that only 4 teams have confirmed their driver line ups. If the teams have chalked off 2013 and are fully in 2014 mode (looks hard at Ferrari who have been busy refurbing their wind tunnel for 18 months) then we as fans cannot be blamed for doing the same.

Sexy wind tunnel picture
Sexy wind tunnel picture

The sad thing (or maybe it’s a good thing) is we still have two stunning, wonderful tracks to come (Circuit of the Americas and Interlagos) but can anyone see beyond a Vettel win or the tedium of watching a load of drivers racing within themselves to conserve tyres (but that’s another debate). He has 11 race wins in total and has just equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of 7 consecutive wins in a row set back in 2004. And come to think of it 2004 was a bit of a borefest even for a die-hard Schumacher fan. Vettel is pretty remarkable though – even though he has won every race for the last 859 races (that is what it feels like anyway) and no one can even remember who last won the F1 drivers’ title before him, he is still consumed with desire and motivation to win more races. So for what its worth (ie. not much) my money is on 13 wins this season. And then Christian Horner will reach the perfect true state of nirvana and implode into a billion particles of glitter on live TV.

Its a small leap from Christian Horner to Kurt Cobain.
Its a small leap from Christian Horner to Kurt Cobain.

The Abu Dhabi race (even unwatched!) pretty much summed up the whole slam-dunk nature of this season. Total, crushing Red Bull dominance with Vettel imperiously sweeping past his polesitter team-mate in a nanosecond (you almost wonder whether Vettel surrendered pole just to have something to do at the start). Behind them, a composed and impressive drive from Nico Rosberg for 3rd place with the second half of the season’s Most Improved Driver, Romain Grosjean finishing in 4th. Lewis Hamilton has been strangely lacklustre in recent races. Perhaps he is missing the fragrant Nicole or he hasn’t got the fire in his belly now his title challenge is dead in the water or like 95% of F1 fans he is utterly perplexed as to why Mercedes are not moving heaven and earth to keep Ross Brawn.

I guess anyway I have to thank Mr Eau Rouge Snr for sparing me from a race that was described variously as “meh”…“another race to forget”…“one of the worst this year”…“worst race I’ve seen in a while”…“this was genuinely one of the worst Grand Prix I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen the 99 Spanish Grand Prix” and my controversial favourite “I still love the sport, but inside of me something dies everytime I watch a race this year.”

I’m not the best fan but I’m not the worst fan. I have been an F1 addict for the last 20 years but this season in particular has been hard going. Everything is cyclical in sport and this time last year everyone was raving about what a thrilling season it had been. So we need to stay strong, drink lots of coffee and try to enjoy the rest of the season for what it is. Great drivers…in fast cars…racing flat out (most of the time) at two cracking tracks. I’ll take that as a wrap.

Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. As cool as.
Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. As cool as.

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