Abu Dhabi voted best race of the year so far

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was rated the third-best race since the beginning of 2008 by F1 Fanatic readers.

An average score of 8.854 made the race the most popular of the year so far. It ranked only behind the 2011 Canadian and 2011 Chinese Grands Prix since we began compiling the scores.

Kimi Raikkonen won the race while Sebastian Vettel recovered from starting in the pit lane to finish third behind world championship rival Fernando Alonso.

The previous three races at Abu Dhabi had managed an average score of 6.1 between them, so the exciting race at Yas Marina came as something of a surprise:

What is it with 2012? The two absolute worst tracks on the calender has produced some of the greatest races of the year? How is that possible?

The DRS here does go to show that this track is fundamentally flawed. Even with very long DRS zones it was still barely possible to overtake, but at least it was that. Barely possible. Every DRS pass felt real, the drivers had to fight, they had to take the duel right into the corner and try to gain control over the position. So maybe the tracks with the worst overtaking spots is the track that work the best with DRS?

I think everyone is going to be baffled that Abu Dhabi of all places produced such an exciting race. […]

I think if a formula for a perfect F1 race were to be devised then, lead changing hands, battles for first, second and third, few good overtakes, some silly mistakes thrown in with a safety car and some hilarious radio chatter should be it. That said all of the champions drove like champions.

I can honestly say there was never a boring moment. We had chaos at the start, and following that, loads of nice battles near the top of the order. The horrific shunt between Rosberg and Karthikeyan paved the way for a bunched-up field, while Hamilton’s retirement and the many collisions made for a massive dose of unpredictability. There were innumerable tangles about the midfield – Vettel’s run-in with Ricciardo, and the chain accident of Perez and Webber. Not the best racing per se, but undoubtedly exciting.

The closing stages of the race sealed the deal. You had four world champions duking it out – Alonso pushing to catch Raikkonen, Button and Vettel dueling professionally. The tension was unbearable before and after Vettel’s pass on the McLaren, while Alonso chasing down Raikkonen had me on the edge of my seat.

And to cap it all, a feel-good victory – Raikkonen finally clinching that elusive comeback win with a very measured drive, and some hilarious team radio moments along the way. Never thought I would give a perfect ten to an Abu Dhabi race, but the last two hours just proved me wrong.
Bob (@Bobthevulcan)

That was one of the greatest races I’ve ever seen. Fantastic race by Vettel (I think he has well and truly silenced the critics now saying he can’t race from the back), some fantastic battles throughout the field and a very tense finish.
Max Jacobson (@Vettel1)

Drama all the way, weird incidents, a massive drive by Vettel, helped by others’ misfortunes but still.

And best, best of all: Raikkonen’s radio messages. Where were those in India? We need them.

@MattB noted the bad language on the podium and wondered if Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel might get in trouble for it:

From the Foreign and Commonwealth office on Abu Dhabi: “Swearing or making rude gestures is considered an obscene act and offenders can be prosecuted. Offenders have, in the past, received six-month jail sentences for such acts, and some have been deported.” So Vettel and Raikkonen – six months in the Middle East for you then?

A few suggested that while the Grand Prix was entertaining, it fell short as a sporting spectacle:

Looking at the real racing: there was none. At one moment, I genuinely thought I was watching the local fancy fair bumper car competition, or worse NASCAR. It began at the start: I think that was Di Resta’s error, because he was on the middle of the track with three cars to his right – give some space, would you? Rosberg’s shunt was frightening to watch. Webber was making a mess of it, and I think I’ll just keep my mouth shut about the Perez/Grosjean mess. […]

So, no real racing, but a lot of excitement. And though I’m a bit disappointed as a racing fan, I couldn’t resist giving this one a 10.

Too many dumb mistakes by too many drivers (or even by wrecking-crew Webber alone) and no scrap for first (plus the retirement of the guy who should have won).

And while @MazdaChris gave the race ten out of ten he had some criticisms about the coverage:

The only thing which I did think could have been better was the direction of the coverage.

During the opening few laps, Vettel managed to make his way up to 14th, and we saw pretty much none of it. All because of this unnecessary trend of showing us 50,000 replays of the start. I really don’t understand why they do this while there’s racing going on on-track, especially when we know we’ll get to see a bazillion replays of the start in the post-race analysis.

At most, I think it’s something they could play as filler when the safety car is out, but to deny us the spectacle of Vettel cutting through the field in favour of showing us people driving away from the grid for half an hour is just unforgivable.

Previous rate the race results

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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34 comments on “Abu Dhabi voted best race of the year so far”

  1. Abu Dhabi, Valencia, China, Malaysia, Spain were the best races this year. Wow, wouldn’t have called that one at the start of the year!

    1. Spain and China were chosen for the new inner factor, they wern’t that amazing races.
      Though China does have a nice habbit of throwing up watchable races (06, 07, 09, 10, 11, 12)
      But Valencia/Abu Dhabi is a surprise

    2. Spain and China were chosen for the new winner factor, they wern’t that amazing races.
      Though China does have a nice habbit of throwing up watchable races (06, 07, 09, 10, 11, 12)
      But Valencia/Abu Dhabi is a surprise

    3. Bahrain too, but some people gave low ratings because of some political things. What a shame.

      1. How can I give it a high rating if I can’t enjoy it?

  2. Be honest: if someone had told you at the start of the year that Abu Dhabi and Valencia would be the best two races of the season, would you have laughed at them, or just not bothered to watch any races in 2012?

    1. I am afraid I would have just stopped watching, fully expecting the year to be a horrible bore!

    2. Both wouldn’t be rated quite so highly if there hadn’t been a retirement from the lead sure to reliability

    3. William Brierty
      14th November 2012, 19:58

      Personally I would have responded with, “Well done, Sebastian, you’ve blatantly won the title again. Shame about Hamilton beating you in Abu Dhabi and Valencia, but anyway, 18/20 isn’t bad.”

  3. I have not noticed @mads comment up to now, I think it is right on the spot.

  4. I wonder which circuit has the lowest rating over the past 3 seasons? I’m guessing it would be Monaco, India and Bahrain

    1. I always love Monaco – just because it’s Monaco.

      1. William Brierty
        14th November 2012, 20:01

        …and because we had genuinely great races there, such as 2008 and 2011.

  5. At the end of it all, it leaves us with a question.

    Is the circuit layout really the biggest factor in racing entertainment? The top 4 ranked races of 2012 are Tilkedromes while Spanish GP is 5th with British and Japanese GPs are lying below in the table. Think.

    1. @neelv27 It would be wise to consider the results of more than one season when making that kind of assessment.

    2. I think it is.

      Thinking about it, one can spot that the best races this year were the best due to factors outside track layout. Surprise winners, as @mw said, rain, retirements from the lead, crashes and SCs in critical moments, unusual tactics, penalties, etc. These could have easily occur at Spa, Silverstone or Suzuka as well.

      One thing which did swung the balance in the Tilketracks favour is what Mads described in the Abu Dhabi rate the race result story: DRS made passes too easy on tracks which are inherently well-designed to enable passes on their own, while made it just about right for the Tilkedromes. But even that is not the whole picture: Kimi’s pass on Michael in the Eau Rouge without DRS will likely be voted as the pass of the year – and it was not the case of one driver handicapped like in 2011 in the Webber-Alonso case. (On a sidenote, and apart from that, I think anyone overtakes in Eau Rouge, in a race situation, in any year, will get the pass of the year title, somewhat deservedly so.) Also, Vettel took Rosberg on the outside of Blanchimont last year.

      All in all, in one word, I still think: yes.

    3. No, but they are a large contributor. The races this year have been the exception. abu Dhabi is such an awful track

      1. I think with highly degradable tires and DRS, any track can provide a classic grand prix. Just look at the Spanish GP which has averaged 7.7 in the last 2 years since the introduction of DRS and Pirelli tires or Chinese GP which has averaged a whopping 8.9

      2. In fact, had the circuit been more interesting, it would have added to the spectacle, and this race may have earned a 10 rather than a 9 from me.

  6. Abu Dhabi and Valencia were the two most exciting races of the year so far…who would have predicted that in January!

  7. The common denominator between the top 5 rated races (Abu Dhabi, Valencia, China, Malaysia, Spain) was an unpredictable winner.
    Alonso was an unlikely winner twice when we discovered that the Ferarri was well off the pace in dry conditions but had plenty of pace in the wet (Malaysia) and everyone else had problems (Valencia).
    Then Rosberg, Maldonado and Kimi were all very unlikely, on time winners.

    1. and out of the bottom 7 races, Vettel had won 5 of them! Hmmm get the trend!

      1. yes, same story last year too!

        1. @91jb12@neelv27So you thought the bottom 5 were interesting races?
          You must love parades, drop over to dublin on March 17th, you’ll be in your element!! ;)

        2. @91jb12
          So you thought the bottom 5 were interesting races?
          You must love parades, drop over to dublin on March 17th, you’ll be in your element!! ;)

          1. A race can be interesting even if the leader is gone on his own. So France 1979 was dull? Jabouille won by miles yet we all remember the battle for 2nd.
            People think races were boring automatically, because Vettel won from pole by 10 secs, forgetting the excitement which may have gone on behind

      2. Better stat – Bottom 7/8 are won by Red Bull.

  8. Valencia,Abu Dhabi & Spain who would have thought that,I also believe that Bahrain was a good race though I understand why it is so under rated.

  9. I find it disgusting that Formula 1 cars are allowed to bounce on a limiter.

  10. It was Kimi of course..master of entertainment.

  11. I echo the doubts about whether track layout actually has a contribution to the enjoyment of the race.. Judging on the RTR polls over the last 5 years, I reckon the majority of the top 5% or so can claim at least one of the following
    -Mixed weather conditions (Certainly a factor in Malaysia ’12, Canada ’11, Belgium ’08 and Brazil ’08)
    -A fast car starting lower down and successfully making their way through the field (China ’11, Abu ’12)
    -A championship decider ( Brazil ’08 and ’09, but oddly enough, not Abu ’10)
    -A surprise winner or other result (Spain ’12, Valencia ’12, China ’11, Canada ’11)
    -A close fight for the lead (Canada ’12, Malaysia ’12, Spain ’12)

    If I’ve missed any out, then let me know! Please give examples aswell as I’ve tried to do…

  12. I am not sure if I agree with @Mads entirely. Yes, DRS is an absolute necessity on Tlkedromes. But it is not as if the classic tracks don’t need DRS. Spain, Hungary, Monaco definitely need DRS. Even on Silverstone, Australia, Italy and Japan, overtakes without DRS weren’t happening.
    Montreal and Spa are the only two tracks that I can confidently say don’t need DRS.

    But it is not the fault of the tracks. The sport’s rules are such that the teams chase extra downforce all the time and the inadvertent effect of that extra downforce is dirty wake behind the car. Sometimes, I feel that designers might even add in a small wing or endplate just to create more dirty air behind it, even if that part doesn’t add downforce.

  13. William Brierty
    14th November 2012, 19:53

    Why? We saw Hamilton get another dose of crushing bad luck, we had the chance of a great championship battle ruined by two safety cars and we saw a whole load of bad driving from Perez, Webber, Massa and to some extent Vettel (loosing his front wing against Senna). For me, the European, Canadian, Malaysian and Chinese Grands Prix were way better. Saying that, it was great to see Raikkonen win, and genuinely exciting to see Alonso closing in the final laps. Not the best though.

  14. I’m hoping this will teach some a people a thing or two about track design…and how it doesn’t matter as much as they think it does! Seriously, I’m not surprised that we were able to have a more enjoyable race here than any other circuit, at the end of the day it’s just tarmac configured in a particular direction, it’s the million and one variables that go into a race that make it what it is. Some circuits suit some teams more than others, that’s about the only discernible difference between tracks most of the time.

    A deserved high score for this race, I was feeling hurrendous on the day but I was very glad I had a great F1 race to take my mind off it :D

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