BBC BLOGS - Jonathan Legard
« Previous | Main | Next »

My Abu Dhabi Grand Prix predictions

Post categories:

Jonathan Legard | 08:28 UK time, Saturday, 31 October 2009

With the two championships decided at the last race in Brazil a lot of people are saying the fizz has gone out of the 2009 season finale in Abu Dhabi.

They're right in one way as there won't be any champagne on the podium here in the Emirati city, just like there wasn't in Bahrain, but there is still plenty to look forward to.

It's the inaugural grand prix in Abu Dhabi and it is a quite staggering, eye-popping, mind-boggling venue.

Formula 1 has never seen anything like this and probably won't see anything like this again - the £800m spent on this venue, the facilities' attention to detail and the development plans for Yas Island have even exceeded Bernie Ecclestone's dreams. And that's saying something because he sets the bar so high.

I just hope that we have a race that is fit for this circuit and a season that has given us some great racing, a great championship story and some sensational comebacks from Red Bull, Lewis Hamilton, Rubens Barrichello and Kimi Raikkonen, who has performed despite his Ferrari rather than because of it.

There has also been drama off the track to match the thrills on it with 'lie-gate', 'crash-gate' and the threat of a breakaway series by the teams. And, even this late in the day, we're still in the middle of the storm over the future of the British Grand Prix.

Yes, Jenson Button is world champion but who is going to be runner-up in the championship?

Former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis would say that's first of the losers but for Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Brawn driver Barrichello, who have come so close, there is still plenty to fight for.

Barrichello has delivered one of the best seasons of his career at the age of 37. He seems set to be moving to Williams at the end of the season and so the Brazilian will want to finish his Brawn career on a high.

Vettel will also want to finish as strongly as he can in readiness for next year. There are just two points between the Red Bull driver and Barrichello in the fight for second place in the championship.

hamap595.jpgAbu Dhabi has spared no expense in creating a lavish new location for Formula 1

Further down the table, there's an interesting battle for fifth place between the potential 2010 McLaren team-mates, Hamilton and Raikkonen, and an in-house fight at the soon-to-be-departed BMW Sauber between Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica.

In the constructors' championship, giants Ferrari and McLaren are vying for third place behind Brawn and Red Bull.

They are well accustomed to slugging it out for titles and now they are slugging it out for best of the rest. McLaren have only beaten Ferrari to the constructors' crown once since 1998, so if they edge third place it will be a fillip for them going into 2010.

BMW are taking part in their 70th and final race and they could yet close the gap on their former engine partners Williams for sixth place as they are two-and-a-half points down.

Amazingly, we've only got six drivers - Hamilton, Mark Webber, Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa and Kubica - confirmed in seats for 2010.

There is lots of speculation in Abu Dhabi about the rest of the drivers on the grid - and they're future on it.

Could Heikki Kovalainen leave McLaren and join Toyota or Lotus? Could Heidfeld head to McLaren if the Raikkonen deal doesn't come off? What about Romain Grosjean's Renault future or Kazuki Nakajima's at Williams? There's also talk that Giancarlo Fisichella could go to Sauber if they secure a final spot on the grid and are powered by Ferrari engines.

This is all the various speculation spinning around because drivers are out there looking for contracts.

It may not be headline-grabbing now the championship is sorted, but there are still plenty of issues to be sorted out on the track in the final race of the season.

It is worth remembering that grand prix drivers do this job because they are racers - they want to win and do as well as they can. It's not always about the money or championship points, it's about competing and doing the best you can with the machine at your disposal.

But a driver in a racing car and he'll get on with it - you can bet the drivers won't be switching off in this final race.

So my final top-eight predictions of the season are:

1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
3. Jenson Button (Brawn)
4. Mark Webber (Red Bull)
5. Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren)
6. Rubens Barrichello (Brawn)
7. Jarno Trulli (Toyota)
8. Nico Rosberg (Williams)

I've gone for Hamilton to take the win because I sense that he is already cranking himself up for 2010. He's seen Button take his title and he wants it back as soon as possible.

The team tell me they expect the Kers energy boost to reap most reward here because there are two long straights. McLaren have already shown during practice that they are very strong through sector two thanks to the power of the Mercedes engine.

McLaren look to have the performance edge over Red Bull but I'm picking Vettel to cross the line in second to secure the same spot in the championship. Barrichello needs to score three more points than the German to take second but I'm predicting a lower place finish for the Brazilian.

Brawn should feature quite strongly at the Yas Marina and I'm really looking forward to seeing Button off the leash and racing without any pressure on his shoulders.

He drove like a world champion to become one in Brazil - now he has nothing to lose. I'm predicting him to win his first podium since September's Italian GP.

The nature of the Abu Dhabi track with its adverse camber and variations of corners could also make for a lively race.

My one big hope is that Formula 1's first twilight race casts Abu Dhabi and the sport in its best light.


or register to comment.

More from this blog...

Topical posts on this blog


These are some of the popular topics this blog covers.

Latest contributors

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.