The season is almost over but, first, we will enjoy the last Grand Prix of the 2015 calendar in Abu Dhabi. The championship, the runner up and the third place are clear but we still have some battles in the table to be taken in account. The two Finns of the grid are fighting for the fourth place. There is also a tight battle between the drivers in 10th (Nico Hülkenberg), 11th (Romain Grosjean) and 12th place (Max Verstappen), with just 3 points of difference; 52, 49 and 49 respectively.
The race in Yas Marina is a day-night race, were lights used to illuminate the circuit are switched on from the start of the event to ensure a seamless transition from daylight to darkness. Temperatures are lower, which allows Pirelli to bring the softer compounds.
Yas Marina is yet another one of Hermann Tilke’s designs. It is part of the F1 calendar since 2009. It was the last race in 2009 and 2010, 2014 and 2015 it will be again. In 2009 both championships, Drivers and Constructors, were sealed in Brazil so Abu Dhabi was just a formality but in 2010, 2012 and 2014 we could enjoy amazing races which were title deciders.
The layout is 5.554 km long with 9 corners to the right and 12 to the left. It is raced counterclockwise during 55 laps. The top speed is around 320 km/h, and the average one is of 195 km/h. It is a long and demanding circuit, with long straights (the longest in the calendar), hard braking points, good overtaking opportunities, and generally slow curves. The scenario is an amazing waterfront, as much as glamorous as Monaco’s one.
The starting straight in Yas Marina is quite short, there is no much space to accelerate before the first 90º medium speed corner to the left. The speed then increases from 125 to 260 km/h in a short straight just before the second and third corners. The number 2 is open to the left and it is easy to have understeer. It will define how much front wing the teams will use. Corner number 3 is a parabolic-kind-of to the right, taken at 250 km/h. Then, before the ending of sector number 1, there is a very fast turn, considered as a straight, where drivers will get to 300 km/h.
Starting sector 2, there is a huge braking point in the chicane, first to the left and then to the right. After the chicane there is the first DRS detection point followed by the corner number 7, the slowest of the circuit; a 70 km/h hairpin left bound drive. A strong engine is vital for the exit of this corner since now it is the full throttle time, with the longest straight of the layout. The drivers have permission to use DRS if they are under a second behind the driver in front and the speed will go up to 330 km/h. At the end of the straight there is a good overtaking point in the corner number 8, a closed one to the left passed through at 80 km/h and followed by a 90º corner to the right. The kerbs are aggressively used in that section. Drivers will find the second DRS detection point at the beginning of turn number 10, a fast drive to the left with a very open changing radius, in which the speed is up to 300 km/h.
Sector number 3 starts with corners 11, 12 and 13, a chicane left-right-left. Then, there are a few straight meters before heading to the curviest part of the circuit. It starts with turn number 14, 90º left-handed, a short-medium straight, a 275 km/h corner number 15 to the right and corner number 16 to the right again. Right there, a sequence of 3 90º corners right-left-left. A few moments to press the accelerator pedal before heading to the last 2 turns: number 20, a quite fast one to the right, and number 21, a bit tight to the right ending in the first straight.
Tires and technical requirements
A high downforce level is required to maintain a good speed in the straights but also having to maximize grip in the last sector, the slowest one. Brake demand is also high, especially due to turns number 5, 8 and 11.
Pirelli is bringing the soft and super soft compounds to Abu Dhabi. Paul Hembery commented on tyres performance in Yas Marina circuit: “It’s incredible to think that the 2015 season is over already: it seems a lot less than a year since we were at Abu Dhabi for the final race of 2014. With the championships decided the teams can obviously push to the maximum and our tyre choice in Abu Dhabi provides them with an interesting challenge: while the surface is very smooth, the tyres are still pushed quite hard due to the track layout, so tyre management becomes an important part of the strategy, particularly under acceleration in the traction areas, where it is very easy to spin the wheels. This is the same nomination as last year, so we’d probably expect another two-stop race, but track temperatures can be quite variable as the sun goes down and this can clearly have an effect on the tyres and therefore strategy. Just two days after the chequered flag on the 2015 season, we already begin testing for 2016: there will be a dedicated Pirelli tyre test from 9am to 9pm on Tuesday 1 December, with all the teams running one car to test some 2016 constructions and the new ‘ultrasoft’ tyre, which will carry purple markings at next year’s races.”
The Abu Dhabi race has been won by Sebastian Vettel in three times (2009, 2010 and 2013), Lewis Hamilton won twice (2011 and 2014) and Kimi Räikkönen one (2012). The fastest lap in Yas Marina, 1:40.279, belongs to Sebastian Vettel and it was done back in 2009. Will Nico Rosberg be able to take three wins in a row to finish the 2015 championship?
Race local times
FP1 Friday 27 13.00h
FP2 Friday 27 17.00h
FP3 Saturday 28 14.00h
Qualifying Saturday 28 17.00h
Race Sunday 29 17.00h
by Cristina DeLarge