F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Preview: Vettel Already Ahead

Sebastien Vettel looks to further extend his slim lead atop the F1 rankings.

Robert Whiteby Robert White

Red Bull’s Sebastien Vettel dominated the practice sessions at Abu Dhabi ahead of this weekend’s Formula 1 Grand Prix as the German looks to build on his lead atop the F1 standings.

Vettel’s late season resurgence has him ahead of his toughest competitor, Fernando Alonso, with just three races and 75 points remaining. Vettel posted a time of 1 minute, 41.751 seconds on the 5.6km Yas Marina circuit, .168 seconds quicker than McLaren's Lewis Hamilton (who was best on Thursday’s practice) while Alonso managed just seventh in the practice heats. Jensen Button came in third while Mark Webber struggled at fourth.

Despite the top four finish, technical trouble caused Webber to retire his Red Bull car on the Friday session. After suffering problems last week in India, Webber’s Red Bull vehicle suffered from a KERS issue and is also experiencing sparking problems. Webber didn’t make a whole lot out of his vehicle's technical difficulties and should be fine for Saturday night’s qualifying race.

Vettel’s 13-point lead ahead of Alonso is a slim one, but if the young German’s early form at Yas Marina is any indication, he should extend that lead further on Sunday. Red Bull has provided Vettel with the fastest car over the past few months; he has won in India, Korea, Singapore and Japan and placed second in Belgium.

His poor Friday performance aside, Alonso still poses a threat and a come from behind win this weekend would see him retake the championship lead. The Ferrari driver has secured championship points on all but two occasions this season (both DNFs in Belgium and Japan).

The Round 18 Abu Dhabi track features 55 laps, 190 miles and 21 turns.

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