(MENAFN - The Peninsula) F1 Team Qatar is in the United Arab Emirates to take part in this weekend's crucial 13th and 14th rounds of the UIM F1 World Championship at the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC).
Less than a week after retiring from the pair of Qatar races with mechanical problems, Qatar's Jay Price is making his final preparations for the two races tomorrow and Saturday and knows that podium finishes are crucial to his challenge to retain the world title for the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF), which is run under the presidency of Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al Thani.
Price has been the fastest driver in the entire championship this year - proof being his outright lead in both the Fast Lap Slam Trophy and the UIM F1 Pole Position Championship - but he has only recorded four finishes from the 12 races in which he has competed this year.
Those finishes netted the DAC driver 70 points for a pair of race wins in Finland and Russia and a couple of second places in Portugal and Shenzhen.
But eight costly retirements mean that he arrives in the UAE down in fifth place in the UIM F1 Drivers' Championship, 42 points behind Team Abu Dhabi's championship-leading Thani Al Qamzi.
Team Qatar's Khalid bin Arhama Al Kuwari, Head of Formula Racing at the QMSF, knows that there are 80 points still to play for over the next two race meetings in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, but any more non-finishes would wreck Price's title challenge.
"Brendan Power, our engine expert and Jay's crew chief, has examined the data from the boat after the two mechanical failures in Qatar and we are hopeful that we have come up with something to cure the problem," said Al-Kuwari.
"The only downside is that this might impede the performance of Jay's boat and make him less competitive.
"I suppose the pressure is off us a little now. The Qatar Team came into this championship season as World Champions and that meant we were under pressure from the start of the year. From now on it's a case of Jay pushing as hard as possible to try and score as many points as he can. Jay claimed the world title in Abu Dhabi last year, so we all have many fond memories of this course and we hope that our luck will change accordingly."
While Al Qamzi holds a slender championship lead heading into the pair of races tomorrow and Saturday afternoon, the momentum is with nine-time World Champion Guido Cappellini following his pair of stunning wins in Doha.
"I must admit that if Guido finishes the rest of the races, then I think he will take his 10th world title," admitted Al Kuwari.
Britain's Malcolm Goodman will partner Price for the second successive event in Andy Elliott's Dragon boat as the second member of the Qatar Team. The rookie finished a sensational fifth in race one in Doha Bay last Friday afternoon and was hovering just outside the top 10 in race two on Saturday when a faulty earth wire cost him power steering and his place in the race.
Goodman won many plaudits for his debut F1 performances and is relishing the opportunity to add to the seven points he earned in Qatar, which have already lifted him to 18th in the UIM F1 Drivers' Championship.
The weekend's formalities begin today with technical scrutineering and team registration. The on-water action on the demanding eight-pin course gets underway with the first one-hour free practice session at 09.30hrs on tomorrow morning. The all-important time trials follow at 11.30hrs and round 13 of the championship fires into life at 15.30hrs (14.30hrs Doha time).
A similar timetable is repeated on Saturday, with the second Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi running for a minimum of 30 minutes and two green laps from 15.30hrs on Saturday afternoon.