Giedo van der Garde will once again turn out in Friday's practice for Caterham as they look forward to performing at a track loved by all...
Giedo van der Garde will once again turn out in Friday's practice for Caterham as they look forward to performing at a track loved by all.
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Giedo van der Garde: "Abu Dhabi's the first track I'll be driving on in FP1 at this stage of the season that I've raced on before. With the obvious limits we work under in FP1 that's a big advantage as it means I'm not having to learn my way around on my first couple of laps, and as we're usually doing somewhere between 20 to 25 laps in first practice it means I can help the team even more right from the first run.
"I have to say I'm really enjoying the work I'm doing with the team and it'll be even better in Abu Dhabi. In India my times were closer to my team mate than in any other session I've done and I think I'm really developing a good relationship with the engineers and the whole team. It's obviously a bit tricky to really show what you can do when you have just one set of tyres and not much more than about 25 laps, but these sessions aren't about showing how quick I can go, they're about working to the program set by the team and continuing to learn as much as I can about the step up from GP2 to F1. After the Abu Dhabi race I'll be staying on for the young driver test, and that'll be another really good step forward in my development - two full days in the car on a track I've already driven on, and with a group of people who I've worked closely with for the last couple of months will give me a great chance to help the team get as much as they can from the test, and give me the opportunity to keep developing without some of the constraints of a race weekend FP1."
Heikki Kovalainen: "Abu Dhabi's a track that I think everyone looks forward to getting back to. It's just about the best overall venue for F1, with some of the best facilities for the teams that we see all year, a track that has some good technical challenges and pretty much perfect weather.
"As my girlfriend's parents now live in Abu Dhabi we've spent quite a bit of time this year and as well as being a good place to race it's also really good for the time off between Grands Prix. The weather makes training easy and there are several good golf courses where I can keep working on lowering my handicap so it's somewhere I really like going to
"On track the first sector is pretty quick. If you're anywhere near turn one you can see just how quick F1 cars change direction as we head into turn one, and from there it's almost flat out through turns two and three. After that it's a bit stop/start until the long straight down to T8 where there you have the first clear chance to overtake. >From there it's another flat out blast down to T11 and then it almost turns into a street circuit for the final sector. I'm sure for the people watching from the hotel it must look pretty hardcore, but from inside the car it's not too much of a challenge. You need good traction and the braking stability has to be perfect, but once we're through that final sector it's back onto the start / finish straight and the start of another lap."
Vitaly Petrov: "I really like Abu Dhabi. There's always strong support from Russian fans around the track and the circuit itself is a good technical challenge where one of the most important areas we'll be working on is braking stability. You can make up a lot of time if you can really attack the braking zones, particularly into turns eight and eleven after the two longest straights, so we'll be working hard on that in the practice sessions.
"One of the other challenges in Abu Dhabi is dealing with the track evolution. At the start of FP1 it is always pretty green but the grip comes in quickly. FP1 and FP3 are both run when the track is nearing its hottest temperatures, but FP2, quali and the race are all run in the later afternoon and into the evening when track temperatures have dropped but the grip levels are continuing to rise, so we'll be taking a close look at how best to manage the tyre degradation as the conditions change. As we've seen all season, looking after the tyres properly can make a real difference to performance, so that's something everyone will be working on."