Race gets under way at 3.30pm on Friday at the Abu Dhabi Breakwater on the Corniche
Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella to start Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi from third
Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella will start third on the grid when the penultimate round of the UIM F1 World Championship, the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, gets under way at 3.30pm at the Breakwater on Friday.
An outright victory for the Italian driver will secure him his fourth world title and the first success for Team Abu Dhabi since the American Scott Gillman won it for them in 2006.
Philippe Chiappe, the Frenchman on the CTIC Shenzhen China Team who has won the world title three times in-a-row, will start on pole after clocking the fastest time of 42.83 seconds on Thursday.
He was followed by Norwegian Marit Stromoy (42.89) of the Emirates Racing Team and Carella (43.02). Emirati Ahmed Al Hameli of the Victory Team was sixth fastest of the 21 boats.
“It was not the best qualifying for me,” Carella said. “We made some mistakes. I got a bit lost in my rhythm on my best lap. I guess I am ahead of Erik [Stark of Team Sweden, who starts fifth on the grid], but I am behind Philippe now.
“That is not perfect, but it will be a long and difficult race with this water. Marit is a very good driver and I am pleased for her that she delivered such a great performance.”
Team Abu Dhabi’s Emirati driver Rashed Al Qamzi produced some solid lap times and will start eighth.
“I am very happy with that and am trying to push harder for the future,” he said. “I was inside the top six until near the end, but I could not find any clear water to set a faster time. I will try to push hard in the race.”
Guido Cappellini, the Team Abu Dhabi’s manager, was unhappy with Carella’s time.
“I am surprised because our boat was faster than this in the private test,” said the 10-time world champion.
“I don’t know why. Now we check, engine and propeller. I am not happy for this. We work 20 days to not have this result. Saying that, third place is good and it was important to be in front of Stark.
“Honestly, we pushed hard for the pole position to win the race. Marit was incredible – one perfect lap, a lap of life! Now, if Alex has a very good start and he stays in first, OK, but, if not, maybe it’s better not to take risks.”
Carella goes into the second last race of the season on 58 points followed by Stark (42), Chiappe (39), Sami Selio (30) and Ahmed Al Hameli (30).
With 20 points up for grabs for the winner on Friday, victory will wrap up the title for Carella ahead of next week's final race in Sharjah.