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BBC Sport's fuel-adjusted Abu Dhabi GP grid

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F1 Mole | 16:50 UK time, Saturday, 31 October 2009

Lewis Hamilton looks in superb shape to take a third victory of the season at the Formula 1 finale in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

The McLaren driver was on pole by a margin of nearly 0.7 seconds and he was still half a second clear when the amount of fuel in the cars was taken into account - an astonishing margin in a season that has been so close.

The cars in the top 10 qualifying shoot-out are not allowed to refuel between qualifying and the race, so the amount of fuel they carry dictates their pace on Saturday as well as when they will make their first pit stops on Sunday.

So grid positions can be misleading until the fuel weights are published and the ramifications of that calculated. Assessing those figures underlines just how strong Hamilton is looking.

This is BBC Sport's fuel-adjusted Abu Dhabi Grand Prix grid, with projected first pit stops:

1 Lewis Hamilton (lap 17)
2 Sebastian Vettel +0.496secs (lap 19)
3 Mark Webber +0.721 (lap 18)
4 Jarno Trulli +0.854 (lap 18)
5 Rubens Barrichello +0.971 (lap 16)
6 Jenson Button +1.001 (lap 17)
7 Nick Heidfeld +1.186 (lap 19)
8 Robert Kubica +1.196 (lap 15)
9 Nico Rosberg +1.388 (lap 19)
10 Sebastien Buemi +1.651 (lap 18)

Because he has two laps' less fuel on board, Hamilton's fuel-adjusted margin over the Red Bulls is not as large as it was on the track but at nearly half a second it is still more than big enough for the race to look like it is his for the taking.

It seems as if the Abu Dhabi track could have been made for the McLaren.

hamblog595.jpgHamilton and his McLaren were in a league of their own around Abu Dhabi's new track

There are two long straights for them to get the most out of their Kers power-boost system, which gives them an extra 80bhp for 6.7 seconds a lap.

And the track abounds in the slow- and medium-speed corners in which the car is so strong, while lacking the high-speed bends in which it struggles - and in which the Red Bull is the class of the field.

Not only that, but it should ensure he is unpassable on the first lap, so he should be able to lap at his own pace for the first stint.

If Hamilton has any rivals for victory, it looks like being the Red Bull drivers.

They are making their first pit stops a little later than Hamilton - Vettel on lap 19, compared to Hamilton's 17, and Webber on 18 - but, as long as the Englishman maintain his superior speed into the first stint of the race, it is hard to see Vettel or Webber being able to make up enough time to leapfrog him.

More likely is that the Red Bull drivers will be engaged in a tight battle with the Brawn drivers and Jarno Trulli's Toyota behind Hamilton.

With regards to Vettel and Brawn's Rubens Barrichello, that means a fight for second place in the championship as well as in the race - the German has a two-point advantage heading into the grand prix.

But just as they are fighting for the crumbs left by Jenson Button in the championship, they look certain to be doing the same behind Hamilton in the final race of the season.


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