Guido Cappellini believes Shaun Torrente and Thani Al Qemzi can cope with the intense pressure they face in this weekend’s Grand Prix of Sharjah and emerge with another double title triumph in the UIM F1H2O World Championship.
Team manager Cappellini, the ten-times former F1 champion, acknowledges that Sweden’s Jonas Andersson is a serious threat to Torrente’s bid to wrap up a second successive drivers’ crown, and that the team championship is by no means a certainty.
But the Italian expects the Team Abu Dhabi duo to make their experience and strong working partnership count in a classic grand finale to the season, with Torrente holding a five-point lead over the Swede following a dramatic Grand Prix win in China two months ago.
Andersson is an incredible driver and the difference this year is that, apart from being very fast, he has found consistency.
He is very dangerous and we’re all aware of that, but Shaun is in a strong position, and the fact that he is defending champion helps.
As I found out, until you win your first world title there is great pressure.
After that first title, the situation changes. Shaun is more relaxed, knowing he has what it takes to become world champion.
Torrente and Al Qemzi hold a 22-point lead over Team Sweden in the race for the team title, and Cappellini continued:
The team championship is very important for us.
We have a big lead, but it is not over.
A little problem for one of the boats can lose us the title, and we have to avoid that.
Engine problems followed by a crash in China ended Al Qemzi’s drivers’ title challenge for another year, but Cappellini believes the vastly experienced Emirati driver still has what it takes to become world champion, 20 years on from his race debut.
But for a small electrical problem in India last year, Thani would have been world champion.
He was very unlucky, but he is not finished and everyone in the team wants him to arrive at the end of his career with a world title, and we believe he can.
He works hard and is in incredibly good physical condition.
The 18 F1H2o boats take to Khalid Lagoon circuit for two official practice sessions on Thursday at 10.15 and 13.00, with the three stage qualifying getting under way at 15.30.
The Grand Prix of Sharjah starts at 16.00 on Saturday.
UIM F1H2O World Championship standings
1. Shaun Torrente 64pts
2. Jonas Andersson 59
3. Marit Stromoy 37
4. Thani Al Qemzi 27
5. Alex Carella 25
6. Peter Morin 23
1. Team Abu Dhabi 91pts
2. Team Sweden 69pts
3. Emirates Racing 51pts
4. CTIC F1 Shenzhen China 38pts
Tony Lewis, is a former British print and BBC broadcast journalist with more than 40 years’ media and PR experience.