Sunday, November 24, 2013

Vettel Scores Historic Victory in Brazil for 2013 F1 Finale

Photo source: Pirelli Photo Service

After 18 grand prix race for the 2013 Formula 1 series, the final 71 laps comprising of the Brazilian Grand Prix is symbolizing a number of last opportunities.

With a new turbocharged V-6 engine mandated for competition next season, this Formula 1 finale represents the last time the V-8 powerplants will be used on the world class race tracks. For drivers, the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix will be the final time that many will drive for their respected teams. Mark Webber will be leaving Red Bull Racing and Formula 1 altogether for a spot in the debuting Porsche prototype sports car team in 2014. Competing for eight seasons with Ferrari in Formula 1, Brazilian driver Felipe Massa is concluding one chapter of his career. Massa has signed to race with Williams F1 for next season. A lot more leaves to be decided for 2014 as the grid for the final race of 2013 was set.

A poster child for stability, 2013 Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel was again rock solid in qualifying taking pole on a wet Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace surface with his Red Bull-Renault. Vying for a record-tying ninth consecutive win, Vettel starts the Brazilian Grand Prix with a ton of momentum. However, on the start, it was the Mercedes AMG car of Nico Rosberg that shot out to an early lead.

Photo source: Pirelli Photo Service

The advantage for Rosberg was short-lived as Vettel surged back into the lead. The optimum Mercedes AMG started off the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix with was derailed as both cars struggled with issues. Nico Rosberg fought handling while Lewis Hamilton suffered a tire puncture when he brushed a lapped Williams-Renault driven by Valtteri Bottas. That being said, both Mercedes AMG would persevere to finish within the points. 

The final race of the season ended early for the Romain Grosjean, After only two laps into the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix, the Lotus-Renault race car suffered a freak engine explosion. “At this point in the season I think everyone needs a holiday, but apparently my engine decided to go on vacation early!" said Grosjean in post-race. While the 2013 season ended too soon for the Frenchman's liking, Grosjean ends his Formula 1 year as a much more respected driver. Romain Grosjean scored more points than his more controversial 2012 outing and ended the 2013 season with scoring points in 9 of the final 11 races. Though Heikki Kovalainen was not able to score points in the second Lotus F1 Team car, Grosjean confidently commented, "We’ve proven this year that we are a top team, and I’m certainly proud of all the guys in the garage and back at Enstone.".

Photo source: Pirelli Photo Service

With a threat of rain throughout the Sunday event, the Brazilian Grand Prix was predominately dry. A small shower did dampen the race course near the end but not enough for any teams or drivers to opt for intermediate Pirelli tires.

Possessing a 10.4 second lead, Sebastian Vettel won the Brazil Grand Prix in a largely uncontested run in the 2013 Formula 1 season finale. with the victory, the German Formula 1 World Drivers' Champion equaled Alberto Ascari's long-standing record for most consecutive grand prix wins. A win in the 2014 Formula 1 season opener would provide Vettel with the record. Helping him score his fourth championship, Vettel stood on the winning spot of the Formula 1 podium 13 of the 19 races after climbing out of his Red Bull-Renault on Sunday. By doing this, Sebastian Vettel now shares a record for most wins in a season with country mate Michael Schumacher.    

In his final grand prix race with Red Bull Racing, Mark Webber's last event before his return to sports car racing resulted in a runner-up spot. The effort becomes his 42nd career podium in 215 starts. The entire Red Bull Racing team including teammate Sebastian Vettel spoke proudly of what his been a long time spent working with the Australian. A 37-year-old driver, the end of his seven season run with Red Bull Racing is actively a retirement from the open wheel series. During his cool-down lap, Mark Webber took his helmet off in a last chance to absorb the feeling of driving competitively in the Formula 1 series. On the Red Bull Racing team website, Webber commented, "In this sport it's not always possible to give things a personal touch. We have the helmets on all the time, so they fans don't always see a Formula One driver in a car without a helmet. It was nice to get it off and see the marshals and the fans; it was just a really nice thing to experience. I heard a lot of noises that I don't normally hear.".

Completing a season that fell short of personal expectations, Fernando Alonso finished third in the final 2013 Formula 1 race. Winding up second in the overall points, the distance between him and Sebastian Vettel is a massive 155-point gap. The size of the point differential alone is enough for seventh place overall in 2013 Drivers' Championship. Collecting two wins including a climatic home country victory with the Spanish Grand Prix, Alonso and the Ferrari team were definitely not counting the late-season blitz of the #1 Red Bull-Renault. Alonso's Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa posted a seventh place run in front of his home country crowd. In addition to Sebastian Vettel's tire smoking blowout, Massa also engaged in burning rubber within a circular pattern as a farewell to Ferrari. Racing a red Ferrari race car in Formula 1 since 2006, Felipe Massa has technically been powered by Ferrari since his 2002 debut with Sauber (Sauber had a customer engine agreement with the Italian automaker company. Having driven nothing but Ferrari engine power, Massa's transition to Williams will result in the Brazilian being paired with a Mercedes-Benz powerplant

Starting in 14th and 15th place, the McLaren race cars ended a dismal season with a pair of solid runs. Jenson Button lead the charge forward climbing to fourth at the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix. Button's McLaren teammate Sergio Perez also posted an impressive sixth place effort. Both McLaren F1 team pilots made two stops for tires but had second changes The result is Perez's final effort with a McLaren-Mercedes race car as the Mexican was released late in the season in the favour of rookie Kevin Magnussen. Sergio Perez's 2014 schedule has been left open.

With a fifth place for Nico Rosberg and a ninth for Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG's Brazilian Grand Prix finish is actually more successful than when comparing season-long standings. By six points, Mercedes AMG took second place in the Formula 1 Constructors' Points standings after a tough fight with Ferrari. For Lewis Hamilton's drivers' points, the Brazilian race regrettably ended up with Mark Webber overtaking the Mercedes driver for third in the final standings.

While unable to escape the back of the Formula 1 running order all 2013 season, Max Chilton receives honourable mention with Marussia. Chilton finished every race in his rookie season.

When the Formula 1 racing tour resumes in 2014, a new page will for the moment put all drivers and teams on an equal playing field. Until that time, there is little doubt the Red Bull Racing team as well as the four-time champion Sebastian Vettel will be leading the toast to successes of 2013.

2013 Formula 1
Brazilian Grand Prix
Race Result

1 1 Sebastian Vettel  Red Bull Renault
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault
3 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
4 5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
5 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
6 6 Sergio Perez McLaren Mercedes-Benz
7 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari
8 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber Ferrari
9 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
10 19 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
11 14 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes-Benz
12 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
13 15 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes-Benz
14 7 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus Renault
15 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
16 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1 Renault
17 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia Cosworth
18 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Renault
19 23 Max Chilton Marussia Cosworth
20 20 Charles Pic Caterham Renault
21 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
22 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault

Final 2013 Formula 1 Pole Captured by Vettel in Brazil

Photo source: Pirelli Photo Service

Concluding what has become a 2013 Formula 1 tour with surprises, the 19-race series wraps in Brazil with a familiar face taking the headlines. Entering the final race of the Formula 1 season, the Red Bull Racing led by German Sebastian Vettel has been operating undefeated in grand prix races for almost three months. Winning the past eight races, Vettel owns the record for most wins in a single season in the premier open wheel racing series. If Sebastian Vettel repeats his pattern for the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix, the Red Bull-Renault driver will be equalling another mark of greatness. However, with only 71 laps remaining in the 2013 Formula 1 season, the 100 percent effort of other drivers could still potentially unseat the German from a ninth-consecutive race win.  

Punishing the other Formula 1 runners with a Q3 pace, Sebastian Vettel won his seventh pole in a wet session at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace. Lapping the 4.309-kilometer Brazilian race track in 1 minute, 26.479 seconds, the #1 Red Bull-Renault eventually rose to the top in a final time trial session delayed by heavy rain. If Vettel succeeds in capturing a ninth grand prix in a row, the German will tie the all-time consecutive winning streak record posted by Alberto Ascari during the 1952 and 1953 race seasons.

For an all-German driver front row, Nico Rosberg mounted the second-fastest effort in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix. The Mercedes AMG race car driven by Rosberg was more than 6/10ths of a second slower on the wet circuit. Four-tenths of a second behind Nico Rosberg's time on track Saturday was Fernando Alonso. A favourite for the driver's championship at the beginning of the 2013, the Alonso and the Ferrari team was slightly off the pace for much of the season provoking a defensive effort late to simply protect the Spanish driver's second place in points. With second place in the drivers' standings locked up in the United States Grand Prix, Alonso will be fighting alongside teammate Felipe Massa to take the runner-up spot in the constructors' championship for the Ferrari team. Within striking distance, Ferrari sits 15 points behind Mercedes AMG for the second-place position. Starting ninth, Felipe Massa's long run with Ferrari will come to an end in his home country.

The biggest  fight remaining in the overall drivers' championship surrounds 3rd place. Separated by the injured Kimi Raikkonen who is not part of the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber are separated by six points. While the Mercedes AMG is struggling to return to the form shown doing the summer, the team appears have found some race pace as of late. In qualifying Webber will be in the fourth-place grid position with Hamilton placed only one spot behind.

In sixth, Romain Grosjean will be working to cap off a marvelous late season effort that his included four podium finishes in the past five grand prix events. Grosjean recently finished in the runner-up position at the United States Grand Prix. Barring complications, it seems Romain Grosjean will be back with the Lotus F1 team next season having excellently stepped up his performance.

Also deserving credit for worthy qualifying performances for the Brazilian Grand Prix, both Toro Rosso drivers secured top-10 spots. Preparing for a 2014 season in the vacated seat of Mark Webber with Red Bull Racing, Daniel Ricciardo just barely beat his teammate Jean-Eric Vergne. With Scuderia Toro Rosso powered by Ferrari engines, the final four vehicles in the top-10 are receiving power from the Italian automaker. Nico Hulkenberg driving for Sauber is located in tenth spot.

For a 71-lap race to complete the 2013 Formula 1 season, the Brazilian Grand Prix is set for Sunday at 2pm local time (11am in the eastern time zone). Just like the weekend so-far in Brazil, rain is slated to be a factor.

2013 Formula 1
Brazilian Grand Prix
Qualifying Results

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault
2 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
4 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault
5 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
6 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
7 19 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
8 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
9 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari
10 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber Ferrari
11 7 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus Renault
12 14 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes-Benz
13 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
14 6 Sergio Perez McLaren Mercedes-Benz
15 5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
16 15 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes-Benz
17 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1 Renault
18 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Renault
19 20 Charles Pic Caterham Renault
20 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
21 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia Cosworth
22 23 Max Chilton Marussia Cosworth

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Vettel Finds Right Note for US Grand Prix Pole in Austin

Photo source: Pirelli Photo Service

With two races remaining in the 2013 Formula 1 series, the 22-car field is returning to the Americas to put a period on the season. While Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing is already the established victors for the 2013 season overall, there is still bragging rights as well as important final chances to prove Formula 1 worthiness on the line. A race track debuting on the Formula 1 schedule last year, the Circuit of the Americas is once again hosting a late season United States Grand Prix.

The second time the Formula 1 tour is staging an event weekend on the Circuit of the Americas, the 2012 pole winner Sebastian Vettel's performance on Saturday has allowed the Red Bull Racing drive to remain undefeated in qualifying at the track. With a 1 minute, 36.338 second lap in Q3, the effort is granted Red Bull Racing its seventh consecutive pole position and the team's tenth in 2013. Vettel's teammate Mark Webber secures a front row spot with the second Red Bull-Renault. A little more than a tenth of a second off the pole time in Q3, Webber drove the only vehicles that proved to be a match for Sebastian Vettel at the end of qualifying.

Romain Grosjean will start third on the grid for the United States Grand Prix with his Lotus-Renault. Leading the Lotus F1 Team, Grosjean's profile in the race organization is upgraded with the early 2013 exit of Kimi Raikkonen. Set to partner with Fernando Alonso at Ferrari next season, Raikkonen had has season cut short by back pain suffered during the Singapore Grand Prix weekend. Heikki Kovalainen emerges from his position as a reserve driver at Caterham F1 to race the second Lotus-Renault for the United States and Brazilian rounds. Driving for the first time this Formula 1 season, Kovalainen posted a respectable 9th place result in qualifying at the Circuit of the Americas.

In fourth, Nico Hulkenberg is continuing to impress with his show of speed driving the Sauber-Ferrari in the late stage of the 2013 Formula 1 season. Hulkenberg's teammate Esteban Gutierrez was quick on track but has been demoted 10 places after the qualifying session concluded. Formula 1 race stewards penalized Gutierrez and Marussia driver Max Chilton for impeding other vehicles during the time trial session. At the bottom of the grid for the 2013 United States Grand Prix, Chilton will also have to serve a drive-through penalty.

Mercedes AMG's Lewis Hamilton will start fifth on track alongside Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. Alonso will be fighting to lock up second-place in the drivers' championship. With Raikkonen's season over, Lewis Hamilton could easily promote himself to third place in the standing with nine points. However, Mark Webber is only nine points behind Hamilton ahead of the Austin, Texas race. 

With 56 laps planned for Sunday, the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas is scheduled to start at 1 pm local time (2pm eastern time)

2013 Formula 1
United States Grand Prix
Race Results

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault
3 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
4 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber Ferrari
5 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
6 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
7 6 Sergio Perez McLaren Mercedes-Benz
8 7 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus Renault
9 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
10 19 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
11 14 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes-Benz
12 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
13 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari
14 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
15 5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
16 15 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes-Benz
17 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1 Renault
18 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Renault
19 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia Cosworth
20 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
21 20 Charles Pic Caterham Renault
22 23 Max Chilton Marussia Cosworth

Seabastian Vettel Sporting Special Helmet In Preparation for US Grand Prix

Photo Source: Infinti

Sebastian Vettel has once-again attracted the spotlight in a Formula 1 season.

Despite a relatively slow start to the 2013 season, Vettel remained consistent early and later caught fire with an ongoing seven-race winning streak. Locking up the 2013 Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship after the Indian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel heads into the upcoming United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas as a driver still on a mission to stand out among competitors. Thanks to artist Rolf Carsjens, the Red Bull Racing driver will have a slightly different look at the Circuit of the Americas for Friday and Saturday.

A winning design resulting from a social media driven design competition, Vettel's helmet during Friday practice, Saturday practice and qualifying is specially created for the 2013 United States Grand Prix. Carsjens' design prominently features the unmistakable details of the American flag. A more subtle detail on the helmet design honour the city of Austin. Musical notes run along the top and bottom. Red Bull colours and sponsorship badging are integrated into the helmet design.

Photo source: Infiniti

Currently based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Rolf Carsjens is a German born artist who happens to be a big fan of the four-time Formula 1 champion. "His performance and professionalism as a young Formula One Driver is incredible. I also like his personality: He seems to be so humble and down to earth. I'm looking really forward to meeting Sebastian in person.", said Carsjens. For his part in designing the winning helmet design, Rolf Carsjens and a guest (his wife Sheilagh) was granted VIP access at the Circuit of the Americas' Formula 1 weekend. The VIP hospitality includes a trip to the Red Bull Racing garage as the honour of meeting Sebastian Vettel himself.

Photo source: Infiniti
Sebastian Vettel will revert to his traditional helmet design during the Sunday's grand prix race.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Vettel's Perfect Drive Takes Indian Grand Prix and 2013 F1 Championship

Photo Credit: Infinti
Prior to the 2013 Indian Grand Prix on the Buddh International Circuit, the drivers' and manufacturers' championships were on the break of being locked up. The fourth-to-last race on the 2013 Formula 1 tour, German racing superstar Sebastian Vettel needed only to add five more points than Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso to seal his fourth consecutive title. Capturing pole for Sunday's 60-lap main event, Vettel enters the Indian Grand Prix on a hot streak with five-straight victories.

It was a picture perfect start for Sebastian Vettel as he left the Mercedes-AMG cars in his dust. This early lead was short-lived as Vettel relinguished the top spot for a Red Bull Racing tire stop. Including Vettel many of the top cars starting on the soft compound rubber upgraded to medium compound Pirelli tires within the initial laps.

Within a field scrambling for position behind the leading Red Bull-Renault was Fernando Alonso who was starting the Italian Grand Prix eighth with only a remote chance at challenging Vettel for the 2013 drivers' title. Despite Vettel's potential victory being enough to secure the championship, Alonso's efforts would also be conflicted by a collision with Mark Webber's Red Bull-Renault on the start. With front end damage to his Ferrari, Alonso was forced to pit road for repairs. Alonso would struggle for track position since the early race mishap. Deeper in the field on the first lap, another collision occurred between the Caterhams of Giedo van der Garde and Charles Pic as well as Max Chilton's Marussia-Cosworth. The Caterham-Renault of van der Garde would be the race's first retirement.

Starting 17th after some great Formula 1 race runs on past events, French driver Romain Grosjean was facing an uphill battle competing in India. Starting on soft compound Pirelli slicks, Grosjean's Lotus-Renault lasted 13 laps before making his switch to medium tires. Grosjean would make an intrepid climb early and quickly made his way into the top-5.

As the Indian Grand Prix progressed, Sebastian Vettel began to show his class-leading form. Making his final pit stop on lap 31, the German driver's Red Bull-Renault set out a commanding interval between himself and the second-place runner. Despite the team pride with their lead driver, an opportunity at a Red Bull Racing 1-2 finish was denied on lap 39. An alternator problem on Mark Webber's car has cost the Australian another strong finish in as many grand prix races.

During the late stages of the 2013 Indian Grand Prix, the story was Kimi Raikkonen trying to stay out on medium compound tires placed on his Lotus-Renault back on lap seven. His vehicle was immensely off the pace with other vehicles running on fresher Pirelli. Fighting to hold on to third place, Raikkonen was actually creating drama within his own team as Romain Grosjean was closely following on faster Pirelli tires. With reports of heated team communications towards Kimi Raikkonen's car, the Finnish driver would yield to Grosjean. With a lap 58 pit stop, Raikkonen would finish the Indian Grand Prix seventh.

Crossing the line 29.8 seconds ahead of runner-up Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel officially became the 2013 Formula 1 World Drivers' Champion with a convincing victory at the Buddh International Circuit. An elated German driver celebrated his sixth-straight grand prix win and fourth-consecutive Formula 1 points title with some rarely-seen tire donuts on the racetrack. Leaving his mark on the track, the win was repeats triumphs in 2011 and 2012 making Vettel the only grand prix winner of the Indian Formula 1 race. The Formula 1 race stewards did issue a 25,000 euro fine for the post-race celebration but the penalty likely represented money well spent by Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing who also gains the crown as the manufacturers' champion. With Fernando Alonso unable to claim a single point, Vettel has padded his point lead by 25 points.

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

With a quiet second-place run, Nico Rosberg headed the Mercedes-AMG team its first podium since the Hungarian Grand Prix victory by Lewis Hamilton. In the second Mercedes-AMG race car, Hamilton came across the finish line sixth.

Taking the third spot on the Indian Grand Prix, Romain Grosjean benefitted gained pivotal track position thanks to a one-stop strategy performed with his Lotus F1 Team. The result becomes Grosjean's third-consecutive third-place finish in the 2013 Formula 1 season. With 16 races completed in 2013, Romain Grosjean has scored as many points as he did after 19 races in 2012. While his future in Formula 1 was in question at the start of this Formula 1 year, Grosjean's performance especially as of late could allow his stay in the Lotus F1 Team to be extended.

Photo credit: Mercedes AMG

Just outside the podium, some great performances has the Ferrari of Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez's McLaren-Mercedes scoring major points. For Perez, the finish is McLaren's highest placement in a 2013 grand prix event through what has become a dismal season for the typical Formula 1 front-runner.

The next race for the 2013 Formula 1 tour will be held in the United Arab Emirates. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be held on the Yas Marina Circuit on November 3rd.

2013 Formula 1
Indian Grand Prix
Race Results

1 1 Sebastian Vettel  Red Bull Renault
2 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
4 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari
5 6 Sergio Perez McLaren Mercedes-Benz
6 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
7 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault
8 14 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes-Benz
9 15 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes-Benz
10 19 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
11 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
12 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1 Renault
13 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
14 5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
15 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
16 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
17 23 Max Chilton Marussia Cosworth
18 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia Cosworth
19 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber Ferrari
20 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault
21 20 Charles Pic Caterham Renault
22 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Renault

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Webber Outruns Vettel in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Qualifying

Photo Credit: Infiniti

For Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel, the 2013 season has already been successful. Following victory at last week's Indian Grand Prix, Vettel has become a four-time Formula 1 World Drivers' Champion and awarded his team enough points to secure a fourth manufacturer's crown. The acclaimed 2013 Formula 1 champion, Vettel and the #1 car attends the 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with more relaxation than the 21 other cars. With contentious point fights still in play (including a tight second place constructors' championship battle between Mercedes AMG and Ferrari), the Yas Marina Circuit in the United Arab Emirates will provide some tense on-track action.

Sealing his fourth consecutive drivers' title, anyone expecting the German driver to relax his pace for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying would be sorely misguided. In Q3, Sebastian Vettel posted a 1 minute, 40.075 second lap around the 5.554-kilometer track. An impressive time that eclipses his 2009 lap record, Vettel would not be the polesitter for Sunday's main event. Cracking around the Yas Marina Circuit in 1 minute, 39.957 seconds, the Red Bull-Renault of Mark Webber is receiving the preferential first place spot. After a pole drought for much of the 2013 season, the Australian Webber is ending his tenure at Red Bull Racing with two poles in the last three races.

Behind the all-Red Bull Racing front row starting the 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Mercedes AMG team has filled the second row. By more than 8/100th of a second, Nico Rosberg claimed the advantage over Lewis Hamilton. Having speed through late spring to summer of this season, the factory German race team has been scrambling to regain their once dominating qualifying pace. Only four points ahead of Scuderia Ferrari heading into this weekend's event, Mercedes AMG has shown a stronger hand in qualifying. Felipe Massa posted a time on Saturday equating to a seventh place starting effort for Sunday. Fernando Alonso just missed making the 10-car pack in Q3. 

The fifth place starting spot of the 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix underwent a post-race change with the exclusion of a well-known figure. Reigning winner of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Kimi Raikkonen will be forced to the rear after his Lotus-Renault E21 car failed a floor deflection test. The failure was caused when a part broke on-track causing the floor to flex more than allowed by Formula 1 rules. Lotus F1 Team principal Eric Boullier commented on the race team's website saying, “No advantage was sought or gained in the incident and the relevant part has been replaced". Raikkonen will have to start 22rd Sunday. Lotus F1 Team's second car driven by the recently hot Romain Grosjean will be promoted to sixth behind Nico Hulkenberg. Hulkenberg's fifth place effort in qualifying with a Suaber-Ferrari race car is also consistent with a meaningful late season effort on the Formula 1 tour.       
Racing for 55 laps Sunday around the Yas Marina Circuit, the 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix operates later in the day than most Formula 1 races. Starting at 5pm local time, the result is an 8am race in the Eastern time zone.

2013 Formula 1
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Starting Grid

1 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault
2 1 Sebastian Vettel  Red Bull Renault
3 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
4 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
5 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber Ferrari
6 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
7 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari
8 6 Sergio Perez McLaren Mercedes-Benz
9 19 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
10 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
11 14 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes-Benz
12 5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
13 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
14 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1 Renault
15 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
16 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
17 15 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes-Benz
18 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Renault
19 20 Charles Pic Caterham Renault
20 23 Max Chilton Marussia Cosworth
21 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia Cosworth
22 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault