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Abu Dhabi GP: Preview - McLaren

NEWS STORY
30/10/2012

The ultra-modern Yas Marina circuit hosts round 18 of the 2012 world championship. The track is located on a man-made island on the eastern side of Abu Dhabi and it's one of five anti-clockwise venues on this year's calendar. It has several unique features: the pit garages are air-conditioned, the pitlane exits through a tunnel under the track and it has the largest permanent lighting system in the world.

The 5.6km track weaves its way around a man-made marina and has three distinct sectors, each putting different demands on the car. Two high-speed corners start the lap; there are then two very long straights in the middle section and the last sector is tight and twisty. Such variety makes car set-up a compromise between high-speed balance, straight-line speed, good traction and braking stability.

The track surface is made from granite imported from the United Kingdom, and it's relatively high-grip and hard wearing. Pirelli will take their Soft and Medium tyre compounds to the race and they expect to see a mix of one and two-stop strategies.

Lewis won last year's race, while Jenson has finished on the podium in every grand prix staged at Yas Marina. After their fourth and fifth places in India last weekend, they're hoping for a return to the podium on Sunday.

Jenson Button: "I'm really looking forward to this race weekend. I've always gone well around this track - I had a great battle with Mark Webber in 2009, and finished third, and Lewis and I have been on the podium together at the last two races.

"I think this will be another closely matched race: India showed us that the gap between the top three teams is extremely close at the moment, so I wouldn't like to predict the exact pecking order. As in the last few races, I think Red Bull will go into the weekend with a slight advantage, but I'm confident that, with a clear run through practice, we can be right up there too.

"One of the most satisfying aspects of the Indian Grand Prix was that we could battle cleanly at the front - that was fantastic. While it'll be quite tough to overtake around here - even with DRS - I'm hopeful that we can have another great battle, which would be fantastic for the fans."

Lewis Hamilton: "The facilities in Abu Dhabi are absolutely fantastic - probably the best of any circuit in the world. I've always enjoyed the Yas Marina circuit - I took pole here in 2009 and led until my retirement, finished second in 2010 and won it last year - that's a pretty good record.

"It's a track where you can really push the car, which is what I most enjoy. There are a wide variety of corners - I love the fast sweeps in the first sector - and it's incredibly satisfying to hook together a good sector through the tricky marina section of the lap. Good mechanical balance makes all the difference here because you're always changing direction.

"This has also been a place where Red Bull have traditionally gone well, but our race pace was very strong throughout the race in New Delhi. I really enjoyed that race India - fourth place may have been little reward for 60 laps of flat-out effort, but I couldn't have gone any faster.

"I feel confident that we can pull together a strong race weekend in Abu Dhabi."

Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Another race just a week after the last gives us the perfect opportunity to maintain the positive momentum we gathered during Sunday's grand prix in India. Both Jenson and Lewis drove their hearts out, and, although we weren't able to match the Red Bulls in qualifying, their pace on Sunday afternoon, particularly during the second half of the race, was impressively strong.

"The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team has always gone well in Abu Dhabi - Lewis set a stunning pole at the first-ever grand prix in 2009 and led until his retirement; the last time, in fact, that we failed to get two cars home in the points. Additionally, in 2010, both Jenson and Lewis finished on the podium, while Lewis finally delivered on two years' promise by winning spectacularly last year.

"It's a circuit that both drivers enjoy, and which plays to our cars' strengths, so I feel confident that we'll have a strong race weekend."

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