Team Abu Dhabi’s Alex Carella could well clinch the 2017 UIM F1 H2O World Championship title on home waters at this Friday’s Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, the penultimate round of the championship.
The Italian racer claimed the title on three occasions (2011, 2012 and 2013) in the last seven years and arrives at the Abu Dhabi Breakwater with a 16-point lead in the championship standings. With 20 points available for the winner of each race, 15 for second and 12 for third, a race victory for Carella would be sufficient to give the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) a second world title with a round to spare to add to the UIM F2 World Championship earned by Rashed Al-Qemzi in the autumn.
While Carella looks to reach the chequered flag as the winner for a third time in Abu Dhabi to avoid a potentially thrilling showdown in Sharjah on December 15, his team-mates Thani and Rashed Al-Qemzi will be aiming to delight the home crowds with top finishes as well. Rashed will only be taking part in his fifth F1 H2O race, but has made rapid progress through the ranks and is hoping to build upon his recent F4 success in Portugal.
Carella’s closest rival for the world title is Team Sweden’s Erik Stark. He has 42 points to Carella’s 58 and second position would not be sufficient for the Swede to take the battle down to the wire if the Team Abu Dhabi driver was able to secure the win. The mathematical outcomes are endless if Carella should suffer problems or fail to win in Abu Dhabi and claim a 15th F1 win on his 50th career start.
Carella, from Piacenza in Italy, said:
This is the big one and a really important race for me and the whole team.
The outcome is in my hands and I would love to secure the title here in Abu Dhabi.
It would be fantastic for the whole team. I am focused, prepared and looking forward to the weekend.
Philippe Chiappe has won the world title for the last three seasons with the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team and holds third in the title race on 39 points. A win for the Frenchman would also catapult him into contention to upset the applecart the following weekend on Khaled Lagoon.
Like Chiappe, double World Champion Sami Selio and the Victory Team’s Ahmed Al-Hameli can also still win the title if results go their way and even Thani Al-Qemzi – a veteran of 125 Grand Prix and 31 career podiums – could mathematically still win his first title. His best finish thus far was second in 2009 and he finished third on four other occasions (2006, 2007, 2011 and 2012).
Team Abu Dhabi is also chasing glory in the UIM F1 H2O Teams’ World Championship and the UIM F1 H2O Pole Position Trophy. The ADIMSC-based operation leads the former series by 29 points from Team Sweden, with Dubai’s Victory Team down in third position. Carella and Stark are tied in the Pole Position Trophy on 47 points, with Al-Hameli in third on 44 and Chiappe in fourth with 38 points. Carella also leads the F1 H2O Fast Lap Trophy competition by 11 points from Victory Team’s Shaun Torrente.
Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi moved into a three-way tie for second place in the UIM F4 Trophy standings in China in October and the Emirati will be hoping that he can build on that success at the Abu Dhabi Breakwater. Both he and Frenchman Jeremy Brisset and Aussie rookie Louise Vella trail series leader Mansoor Al-Mansoori of the Emirates Racing Team by just two points.
Twenty-one drivers from 13 countries will line up at the start of the main F1 H2O race this weekend and newcomers Erik Edin of Sweden and England’s Matthew Palfreyman join the fray in their respective Team Sweden and Emirates Racing Team entries.
Spectators are welcome to attend all the weekend’s action at the Breakwater and there will be plenty of attractions for families and children, in addition to catering stalls and trade stands.
The on-water action kicks off with extra free practice from 3pm on Wednesday afternoon (tomorrow) and precedes F4 and F1 H2O practice and F4 timed trials on Thursday morning. The first of the weekend’s two F4 races starts at 2pm and the crucial BRM F1 qualifying follows from 3.30pm.
Further practice and F4 timed trials are permitted on Friday morning, before F4 race two gets underway at 2pm and the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi gets the green light at the Breakwater from 3.30pm.