The final rounds at Texas and Sao Paolo had better be more exciting than this. Those races air here at two-ish in the morning, and heaven knows how we\'re supposed to stay awake through them when we struggled for consciousness throughout the Abu Dhabi GP already. The closest anybody got to Sebastian Vettel was into the first corner; beyond that, he set off to build a 30.829sec lead by the end of the proceedings.
So, more Red Bull trophies (after Mark Webber\'s car miraculously remained intact long enough for the Aussie to come home second), more celebratory donuts, and yet another Red Bull team member collecting the constructors\' trophy on the podium. The champion squad likes giving its hard-working employees a chance to stand on that top step, see. At this rate, we\'re bound to see one of the catering staff up there soon.
Anyway, results time for our predictions.
1. The Safety Car will return to the racetrack. There were a couple of hairy moments, but the drivers involved veered off the track to avoid potential crashes, which meant the Merc SLS AMG stayed in the pits.
2. Saturday proceedings: Lewis Hamilton won\'t be in the front row, and Fernando Alonso will out-qualify Felipe Massa. Half a point courtesy of Lewis, who made a mistake in his final hot lap and could manage only P4 as a result. Massa was being something of a counterclockwise specialist again, and things bode well for the Brazilian in the last two counterclockwise circuits this year.
Uncharacteristically out of Q2 on Saturday, Fernando was promoted to P10 following Kimi Raikkonen\'s exclusion from qualifying. He\'d been behind Massa for most of the race, but gained position after his final stop when he came out of the underground pit exit just ahead of the dueling Massa and Jean-Eric Vergne. He avoided thumping--and maintained his lead over--the Toro Rosso driver by running off the track, something which the stewards thought he was justified to do.
3. Valtteri Bottas will be the higher-finishing Williams driver, and Nico Hulkenberg will snatch 10th place in the drivers\' standings. It actually looked like Bottas could take the checkered flag ahead of Maldonado with about 10 laps to go, although a quick review of the lap and tire-history charts showed he had yet to run the soft tires at that point. His final stop to fit in the yellow-marked boots demoted him to a P15 finish against Maldonado\'s P11.
Hulkenberg was luckless, too, ending the race in P14 after starting in P5. A drive-through penalty for an unsafe pit-stop release ruined his chances of taking home points. Paul di Resta therefore extended his lead over the German to nine points in the drivers\' standings.
4. Mercedes will increase its points lead over Ferrari, and Sauber will decrease its points deficit to Force India. Another half-point. We\'re really scrounging for crumbs this time. Merc\'s gap to Ferrari is now at 11 points thanks to Nico Rosberg\'s measured drive. Sauber, on the other hand, failed to gain ground on Force India, whose two drivers were able to finish in the top 10. The deficit now stands at 32 points with two more races to go.
5. At least one Lotus will make it to the podium. Unfortunately, Kimi\'s exclusion from qualifying (his car failed a floor deflection test after the session) meant Lotus lost its best chance of a podium finish. Taking off from the last grid spot, the Finn tangled with the Caterham of Charles Pic at the first corner. His track time was thus as fleeting as his cameo in the latest episode of Tooned, and perhaps for some people, \"The Mika Hakkinen Story\" had more entertainment value than this 11th race won by Vettel in 2013.
Total score: 1 out of 5
Photos from Infiniti Red Bull Racing
|ABU||Starting grid||Race results|
|Pos||Driver (Team)||Quali (Start tire)||Driver (Team)||Time/Gap|
|1||M. Webber (Red Bull)||1:39.957 (S)||S. Vettel (Red Bull)||1hr 38:06.106|
|2||S. Vettel (Red Bull)||1:40.075, +0.118 (S)||M. Webber (Red Bull)||+30.829|
|3||N. Rosberg (Mercedes)||1:40.419, +0.462 (S)||N. Rosberg (Mercedes)||+33.650|
|4||L. Hamilton (Mercedes)||1:40.501, +0.544 (S)||R. Grosjean (Lotus)||+34.802|
|5||N. Hulkenberg (Sauber)||1:40.576, +0.619 (S)||F. Alonso (Ferrari)||+1:07.181|
|6||R. Grosjean (Lotus)||1:40.997, +1.040 (S)||P. di Resta (Force India)||+1:18.174|
|7||F. Massa (Ferrari)||1:41.015, +1.058 (S)||L. Hamilton (Mercedes)||+1:19.267|
|8||S. Perez (McLaren)||1:41.068, +1.111 (S)||F. Massa (Ferrari)||+1:22.886|
|9||D. Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)||1:41.111, +1.154 (S)||S. Perez (McLaren)||+1:31.198|
|10||F. Alonso (Ferrari)||1:41.093, +1.136||A. Sutil (Force India)||+1:33.257|
|11||P. di Resta (Force India)||1:41.133, +1.176||P. Maldonado (Williams)||+1:35.989|
|12||J. Button (McLaren)||1:41.200, +1.243||J. Button (McLaren)||+1:43.767|
|13||J. Vergne (Toro Rosso)||1:41.279, +1.322||E. Gutierrez (Sauber)||+1:44.295|
|14||P. Maldonado (Williams)||1:41.395, +1.438||N. Hulkenberg (Sauber)||+1 lap|
|15||V. Bottas (Williams)||1:41.447, +1.490||V. Bottas (Williams)||+1 lap|
|16||E. Gutierrez (Sauber)||1:41.999, +2.042||D. Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)||+1 lap|
|17||A. Sutil (Force India)||1:42.051, +2.094||J. Vergne (Toro Rosso)||+1 lap|
|18||G. van der Garde (Caterham)||1:43.252, +3.295||G. van der Garde (Caterham)||+1 lap|
|19||C. Pic (Caterham)||1:43.528, +3.571||C. Pic (Caterham)||+1 lap|
|20||M. Chilton (Marussia)||1:44.198, +4.241||J. Bianchi (Marussia)||+2 laps|
|21||J. Bianchi (Marussia)||1:43.398, +3.441||M. Chilton (Marussia)||+2 laps|
|22||K. Raikkonen (Lotus)||1:40.542, +0.585 (S)||K. Raikkonen (Lotus)||retired|
Notes: M—medium compound; S—soft compound. Listed qualifying laps 16-21 set in Q1; 10-15 in Q2; and 1-9 and 22 in Q3. J. Bianchi (Marussia) originally qualified P20, but was given a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change. K. Raikkonen (Lotus) originally qualified P5, but was excluded from the qualifying results because his car was found to be in breach of technical regulations
|1||S. Vettel||347||Red Bull||513|
|6||N. Rosberg||159||Force India||77|
|8||F. Massa||106||Toro Rosso||32|
|10||P. di Resta||48||Marussia||0|
|21||G. van der Garde||0|