Winterbottom ready for battle royal on Yas Marina circuit
Revved up ... Mark Winterbottom. Photo: Getty Images
ABU DHABI: Ford driver Mark Winterbottom admits the format of this weekend's V8 Supercars event in Abu Dhabi will better suit his Holden rival Jamie Whincup.
But he says that won't stop him being aggressive as he fights it out for the championship title.
Whincup, who holds a 218-point lead over the Ford Performance Racing pilot, boasts a good record at Yas Marina Circuit.
The three-time V8 Supercars champion has never missed a podium finish at the track, recording three wins from four races.
Unlike previous years, this will be the first time the V8s will ditch the shorter 4.73 kilometre track and run on the full 5.5km layout. It will also be the first points-paying V8 Supercars event to be held as part of a formula one grand prix.
Winterbottom, who has only finished off the podium once at Yas Marina, said adapting to the event format would be the biggest challenge. ''There'll be a lot of aggression and no pitstops - so purely just you and the car,'' he said.
''There's no variables that can really control the result, and that's probably going to be the biggest thing of the weekend which is different to any other round we've ever done.''
The 31-year-old said he expected Friday's 20-minute qualifying session - where the drivers' three best lap times will determine their grid position for each race - to toss up some surprises.
''Normally we just chase that one ultimate lap. This time, we need three ultimate laps which qualify you for each race,'' Winterbottom said.
''Until you get out there, you don't know. If you're comfortable with the car, the laps seem to happen.
''There'll be regulars there for the one race but there'll be surprises for some of the others, I think.''
With 100 points up for grabs for the winner of each race, Winterbottom is desperate for a victory.
''Just running around is not going to win it so we've got to try and go all-out now and be aggressive and win these races,'' he said.
''This format's probably going to suit that guy with the championship lead more so than just one race because, if he has a failure in one race, he may lose 100 points but he gets two more cracks at it to recover.
''It gives the guy leading a better opportunity to hold the points. If we can get 100 points back on him here, we're really starting to put pressure back on them which is good.''