Formula One returns to the Middle East

The 2005 World Formula One Championship gets back into action after an eight week lay-off with the Qatar Grand Prix on November 19-20 in the capital city of Doha.

The 2005 World Formula One Championship gets back into action after an eight week lay-off with the Qatar Grand Prix on November 19-20 in the capital city of Doha.

The current campaign kicks into overdrive with three races in the next five weekends with two other events in the United Arab Emirates at Abu Dhabi on December 9 and Sharjah closing the season on December 16.

This season sees Cappellini and the Tamoil Team leading the field by 17.5 points on the strength of wins in the Portuguese and Italian GPs. There is controversy this season however as Italian Guido Cappellini was disqualified from the Singapore GP for what officials said was dangerous driving. However Cappellini was later reinstated by the U.I.M. and will now be allowed to run in Doha.

American Scott Gillman is the dark horse keen to defend his title. The native from Los Angeles and number one driver of the Emirates Team, he has led all three championship races held so far this season with just a second place in Portugal to show for his efforts. He is currently tied for sixth place on the points table with French driver Philippe Dessertenne of the Ligier Sports Team who finished third in Singapore.

The driver likely to provide the closest challenge for Cappellini is up and coming Sami Selio of Finland. He drives a new Baba boat and has been a strong contender with back to back second places after finishing 12th at the opening round in Portugal.

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Since the Singapore race didn’t last the required distance, Selio and the other drivers were awarded half the usual grand prix points but he continues to search for his illusive first ever Formula 1 win.

Italian Fabio Comparato lies third just one point behind with 21.5 after a season that saw him with a podium place for finishing third in Portugal, a sixth in Como and a fourth in Singapore. The native of Chiaggo picked up his first every victory last season in Malaysia but needs a few more if he is going to challenge the title.

Three times championship runner-up, Francesco Cantando of the Singha Team, is hoping for his first victory since last season’s opening round in Bombay and currently lies fourth in the championship with 19 points.

Saudi driver Laith Pharaon of Team Green has three straight fifths on the season moving him to fifth in the championship with 17.5 points. Two of Laith’s three victories in his Formula I career have come in the Middle East and he feels comfortable racing in this part of the world.

Great Britain’s Andy Elliott has had a wild ride in 2005 reaching the podium for the first time in over a decade with a third place at the Italian Grand Prix in Como. His earlier performances and those since have been disappointing to say the least failing to finish in Portugal and again in Singapore.

United Arab Emirate driver Thani Al Qamzi second driver with teammate Scott Gillman is ninth in the championship with 6.5 points courtesy of a seventh a ninth and tenth placings. The 27 year-old driver from Abu Dhabi is in his fifth season and keen to improve on his best ever performance when he finished second at the 2003 Grand Prix of Germany.

Rounding out the top ten drivers will be Danish pilot Gert Ladefoged of the Danita Team who so far has competed in just one race this season, the Portuguese Grand Prix, where he finished sixth collecting five championship points. He is extremely talented and when it all comes together, can deliver.

The Grand Prix of Qatar will feature a busy eight-pin 2.1 kilometer course with two 600 meter straights requiring a great deal of attention by all drivers. The event takes place on the 19th and 20th of November and the question remains; will Italian Guido Cappellini be a step closer to his ninth world title? Only time will answer.


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