Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: How Ferrari have fared at Yas Marina Circuit

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Two icons: Ferrari and Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

It might seem hard to believe but the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix celebrated its 10th anniversary last year.

From venturing into bold new territory when Formula One headed to the UAE in 2009, the event has now become a staple inclusion on both the F1 and UAE sporting calendar, with the race continuing to be staged at the shimmering Yas Marina Circuit.

A sport where man and machine meet to produce high-speed spectacles, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix stands out as a shining example of the sport’s new era, representing F1’s increasingly rapid modernisation while Ferrari, the sport’s most iconic marque, continue to stand as a beacon of tradition.

Hublot, the Official Timekeeper and Watch partner of Ferrari since 2011, has been associated with the Scuderia nearly as long. And ahead of the 2019 edition, we wind the clock back on the last 10 years in the UAE capital.

SCUDERIA A BIG PART OF THE STORY

Yas Island has not exactly proved to be a happy hunting ground for the Maranello-based team in the first decade of racing in the Middle East – they have failed to earn a single victory over the course of the inaugural 10 races. Fernando Alonso recorded back-to-back runners-up finishes in 2011 and 2012 while Sebastian Vettel also finished behind Lewis Hamilton last November.

The Prancing Horse have, however, been involved in several of the most famous incidents – and none more so than the second race, in 2010.

The title race that year had been one of the most open and fierce in F1’s history, with four drivers all in with a shout of glory heading into Abu Dhabi – the first occasion that four drivers had still been in contention at the final race of the season.

Ferrari’s Alonso was the favourite to add a third crown to his collection as he led the championship with 246 points, looking to add to his successes in 2005 and 2006.

He went into the race eight points ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber (238) and 15 ahead of younger team-mate Vettel (231), with McLaren’s Hamilton (222), 24 points behind the Spaniard, also in mathematical contention.

Sebastian Vettel with his second-place trophy in 2018.

Sebastian Vettel with his second-place trophy in 2018.

Qualifying maintained the exciting narrative with Vettel claiming pole ahead of Hamilton in second, Alonso third and Webber in fifth. But after a slow start allowed Jenson Button to pass him, Alonso’s race only got worse, eventually finishing eighth after finding it difficult to negotiate his way past the stubborn Renault duo of Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov.

He picked up six points but Vettel’s win saw him race away to his first championship – the maximum 25-point haul seeing him pip Alonso to the title by just a mere four points to become the youngest championship winner in the sport’s history.

It was to be the first of four-straight success for the German driver, but he has found that winning feeling difficult to replicate since switching paddocks to the Prancing Horse in 2015.

Vettel did deliver Ferrari’s sixth podium in 10 years in 2018 and their third runner-up spot after Alonso claimed the first two. It was also a third podium for the 32-year-old in the red overalls, who was third in 2016 and 2017. His 18 points for finishing second also took him past Alonso as the highest-scoring Ferrari driver at Yas Marina; he has steered to 60 points in four races at the track compared to Alonso’s haul of 56 from five drives.

The other Ferrari driver to finish on the podium was Kimi Raikkonen, who came third in 2015. The flying Finn totalled 37 points in the UAE for the Italian marque with Felipe Massa adding another 21.

Alonso and Vettel were and are the main men throughout their Ferrari tenures, but Raikkonen and Massa are equally synonymous with the Scuderia name and have each enjoyed their own special moments in Abu Dhabi.

In 2012, as Alonso finished second at Yas, Raikkonen – then at Lotus-Renault – recorded his first F1 victory since his return to the sport after a two-year hiatus, and his first since 2009.

There was not a dry eye in the house two years ago, meanwhile, as Massa brought the curtain down on a magical career. The diminutive Brazilian – who raced for Ferrari from 2006-13 – finished 10th (overtaken by former Ferrari colleague Alonso) to score his final point in F1.

He had previously amassed 11 wins, 16 poles, 15 fastest laps, 41 podiums and collected 1,167 career points. Vettel and Raikkonen finished third and fourth respectively. 

Power meets Precision 

To-date, the Hublot and Ferrari partnership has resulted in over 50 collaboration pieces.

The Big Bang Scuderia Ferrari 90th Anniversary being one such piece. 

The piece brings its inspiration directly from the world of Ferrari, with a flawless execution that perfectly mirrors the automotive world.  

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