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Class of the Field
Adam Barton

A Formula One fan since he was six, back while Häkkinen and Schumacher were having many an epic battle, Adam has seen a great deal. From German domination (twice), to British determination (once) and a Spanish invasion. A near compulsive fan who one day hopes to write about the sport for a living, outside of F1 Adam also authors his own blog One Guy's Opinion.

Forgotten flying Scot back on form - Di Resta reminds the paddock that he's ready for the big time


It was a slow burner in Abu Dhabi, but despite most people’s worries, there was still enough action to go round, with some great close racing and interesting strategy choices. Not much could have been squeezed between Fernando Alonso and Jean-Éric Vergne at 180mph going through turn three before Alonso took the bumpy route. The fact he carried on after an impact over 15g (Ferrari claimed that it was as high as 25g) is a credit to Alonso’s commitment. Force India tried a different strategy and went on to record a valuable double-points finish. Even though the championships may be over, there’s still plenty of racing left in 2013. Unless you’re Kimi Räikkönen.

Success for Di Resta at last

It was a race that Paul di Resta had to have before season's end. He's had a wretched second half of the season, with unreliability, poor pace and the odd uncharacteristic driver error meaning that di Resta hadn't scored since July. The talent is undoubted, di Resta has had Hülkenberg-style drives in the top six on several occasions but many were beginning to doubt his consistency as the mid-season changes to the tyres had left di Resta with a dog of a Force India. The car was incredibly twitchy and incompatible with the Scot's silky smooth style.

Force India were the only team capable of doing two long stints
Credit: Sahara Force India Formula One Team

However, the trip to the Middle East brought a glimmer of hope. Di Resta qualified twelfth, just a few tenths from reaching the top ten shootout and Paul had a trick up his sleeve - a one stop strategy. Force India were the only team capable of doing two long stints, as Ferrari found to their detriment. The strategy left Paul di Resta in traditional territory, as he spent much of his first two seasons trying to make tyres last longer than they should in the hope of securing a few points. The difference this time was that he had the pace to keep up at the front and still be with the top runners when they exited the pits after their second stops. That left di Resta fifth, though being chased by better machinery with far fresher tyres.

With World Champions Alonso and Hamilton in hot pursuit, he continued with his own race

If Paul di Resta has one key skill, it's his calmness under pressure. With World Champions Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton in hot pursuit, he continued with his own race, setting the best pace he could, rather than overdriving the car and causing an error that would allow Alonso and Hamilton by anyway. Fernando Alonso did squeeze past late on, but di Resta held on against Hamilton and Felipe Massa for a well earned sixth place and eight much needed world championship points.

Webber on fire (but it's good news)

Mark Webber is determined to show the F1 paddock what they'll be missing next year, both in his personality and innate talent. Though it is inevitable that his final race will end in yet another infuriating retirement, he's enjoying his time while the car is working for him.

His qualifying lap was a thing of beauty. The car was perfectly balanced and Webber was absolutely on it. It was a lap that reminded you of the days when he would put his lowly Jaguar (ironically enough the same team) or Williams on the first few rows when he had no right to do so. The fact that he was at his peak in Abu Dhabi should make it even more special. The Yas Marina circuit has been dominated by two men in its short history, especially in qualifying. Only Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have qualified on pole at the track since its first race in 2009, and before last year the pair had always locked out the front row.

Webber's qualifying lap was a thing of beauty
Credit: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Though it could be argued that Webber had a car advantage over Hamilton, not to mention the fact that Lewis had a car issue on his final lap, it was still a great effort from Webber to steal the spotlight from his quadruple world champion teammate.

Sunday proved another frustrating day though. Webber even made a decent start. But both Vettel and Rosberg made better ones and Webber was demoted to third and stuck in the 'Class B' race. He had a tight scrap with Grosjean early in the race and finally managed to manoeuvre his way past Nico Rosberg as the pair made their way past the one-stopping di Resta.

Webber never really shook Rosberg or Grosjean, though this may have been more down to Red Bull managing the gap than anything. Credit must go to Sebastian Vettel though, who finished half a minute up the road having started eight metres behind his Aussie teammate on the grid. It's a shame that the main points of intrigue were removed in turn one, as Vettel was already ahead of Webber, and the drivers starting on the prime tyre were either compromised, in the case of Jenson Button with a broken front wing, or out of the race entirely as Kimi Räikkönen broke his suspension battling with the Caterhams. Was it completely accidental? I'll leave you to decide.

Statement drive from Maldonado

It looks like Pastor Maldonado is on the move, and with the cars that Williams gave him in 2011 as well as this year, who can blame him? But even though the Venezeulan comes with considerable state funding, he must still show his pace to prove that he is worth a move up the F1 ladder. Though he couldn’t add to Williams’ paltry one world championship point all season, he came very close, finishing a couple of seconds behind the one-stopping Adrian Sutil.

Maldonado is on the move
Credit: LAT Photographic

The strategy worked to perfection, and gave Williams a real shot at points

Maldonado found success with an ‘Indian’ strategy, dumping his soft tyres after lap five, only Jules Bianchi stopped as early as the Venezuelan. This allowed Maldonado to maximise the benefit of using the medium tyre with two longer symmetrical stints. The strategy worked to perfection, and gave Williams a real shot at points, fighting with the Force Indias and McLarens that they’ve been looking up at all season, not to mention beating the Saubers and Toro Rossos.

Though Pastor Maldonado’s Lotus chance looks over with the announcement of the Quantum deal being completed, much of the midfield is still unresolved. A hard-working unsung drive in the midfield is something that could really help the Venezuelan’s chances.