x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 17 August 2017

Vettel says Yas track in anti-clockwise direction is 'special'

Frustrated rivals of the champion-elect hoping a gain in Abu Dhabi can help lighten the pain of a disappointing season.

After clinching the drivers' title and powering his Red Bull Racing team to the constructors title, Sebastian Vettel will be racing for more places in the record books at the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The two-time Formula One champion already has won twice in Abu Dhabi, and another victory this weekend will move him within one of matching Michael Schumacher's record of 13 wins in a season.

The 24-year-old German can also equal, while at the Yas Marina Circuit, the record for the most pole positions in a season.

The winner of both previous races in Abu Dhabi said that the Yas Marina track is "special".

"The race starts at dusk and finishes at night, which means we have to drive with special helmet visors because of the different light conditions," he said.

"The other factor is that we drive anti-clockwise. The track's a bit like Singapore from the speed, but the asphalt is smoother."

Vettel will have plenty of drivers looking to make their own mark or salvage their seasons, including his teammate Mark Webber, who sits fourth in the drivers' standings, but has yet to win a race this season.

Then there is McLaren's Jenson Button, who will be looking to tighten his grip on second with a strong performance; he is only 13 points ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

"Our car should suit this circuit so I'm very optimistic," Button said. "We saw at the last grand prix that even though we didn't have the ultimate speed to catch and pass Sebastian, we made him work hard for the win.

"The championship may not be at stake any more but we're still aiming to win races and put on a tremendous show."

Button's teammate Lewis Hamilton, who finished second in Abu Dhabi last year, is hoping a victory in the UAE could erase some of this season's pain that has been most notable for his gaffes, and a running feud with the Ferrari driver Felipe Massa.

The Indian Grand Prix last month was summarised Hamilton's difficult season.

He was penalised three grid places for ignoring yellow flags warning drivers to slow down during the practice session, and then collided with Massa during the race - the third time he has done that in four races.

"We've got every reason to be confident for Abu Dhabi," Hamilton said.

"This circuit should really suite the characteristics of our car. We should be able to capitalise on the layout to maximize the benefit of DRS and Kers, both of which are very strong on our car.

"Red Bull and Sebastian may have clinched both championships, but I'm still determined to end the season on a winning high. I've won two grand prix this year, and I'd love to double that by the end of the year."