F1: Abu Dhabi Preview, All You Need to Know
We have come to the end of the 2018 F1 racing season, and Abu Dhabi awaits the final race.
The Yas Marina Circuit plays a familiar role this weekend, hosting the season finale for the 5th year running, and the drivers like this twilight challenge.
This race will start in daylight and ends under the lights.
Despite MercedesAMG’s clinching the constructors’ championship in Brazil, there is a lot for fans to look out for; championship positions, intra-team rivalries and pride.
So, let us see whats is in store at Abu Dhabi this weekend.
Since making its debut as the season-ending Grand Prix in Y 2009, this circuit has been dominated by Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. The duo that contested this season’s title have both enjoyed similar levels of success at Yas Marina.
Of the previous 9 races held here, Mr. Vettel and Hamilton have won 6 of them, 3 each, taken 5 Pole positions and led 326 of the 495 laps between then.
This weekend, he Silver Arrows, buoyed after their Brazil win 2 weekends ago they will be seeking an unprecedented 5th consecutive Abu Dhabi front-row lockout this weekend, a feat not previously achieved by any constructor at any race track in F1 history.
They are also seeking a 4th consecutive Abu Dhabi 1-2 finish in the race itself, which would also be the 1st-such achievement in F1 championship history.
Despite Mr. Vettel’s success here, he achieved all that during his time with Red Bull Racing.
The Scuderia Team have never won at Yas Marina, never finished in the Top 2 in the turbo-hybrid era, and never qualified on the front row here. Mr. Vettel will be looking to change that Sunday.
Red Bull Racing have fond memories of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Thanks to Mr. Vettel, they have 3 victories here, and they were the last team other than MercedesAMG to stand on the Top step of the podium. Max Verstappen is seeking his 2nd victory in 3 races, after being denied last time out in Brazil.
The Key stats (courtesy of F1), as follows:
- Lewis Hamilton is aiming for his 11th win of the season, to match his best-ever total from 2014 (a season with two fewer races). He also seeks a 17th podium of 2018, matching his career-bests from 2015 and 2016.
- Valtteri Bottas has not won since claiming victory here last year, which was his only career hat-trick to date. Should he fail to triumph, he will be the first winless Mercedes driver in a turbo-hybrid season (the last was Michael Schumacher in 2012).
- Kimi Raikkonen is seeking a 13th podium of the year this weekend, which would exceed his previous career-best totals from 2005 (when he was championship runner-up for McLaren) and 2007 (when he was champion for Ferrari).
- Ferrari, meanwhile, have never raced at any Formula 1 venue as many times as Yas Marina (nine) without taking either a win or a pole, and they’ve only ever led 11 laps in Abu Dhabi.
- Daniel Ricciardo is simultaneously making his 150th Grand Prix start and his 100th (and final) start for Red Bull, whom he joined for the first turbo-hybrid race in 2014 (he is the third longest-serving Red Bull driver ever, behind Mark Webber’s 129 outings and Vettel’s 113).
- His team mate Max Verstappen has one last chance to break the record for youngest polesitter in history, as the Dutchman is only 17 days younger than Sebastian Vettel was at the 2008 Italian GP – but he’s never even out-qualified a team mate on this track.
- Kevin Magnussen has never scored a point in Abu Dhabi, and had a high-speed spin going through Turn 3 on the first lap of last year’s race. Furthermore, the Dane comes into the weekend with only one Q3 appearance in the last seven races (Russia), while Haas have never reached Q3 at Yas Marina.
- Force India’s Sergio Perez has scored points in the last five consecutive Abu Dhabi Grands Prix, and has also started in the top eight for the last three years in a row.
- Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg has finished seventh or better in Abu Dhabi for the last four years – and started seventh in each of the last three years.
- Fernando Alonso is starting what is likely to be his 311th and final Grand Prix, second on the all-time list behind Rubens Barrichello (322). He comes into this weekend with an 84-race streak without a podium (Hungary 2014) and a 109-race streak without a win (Spain 2013).
The Yaz Marina Circuit
The Yas Marina Circuit made its debut in Y 2009, which saw Mr. Vettel win.
Located on the spectacular Yas Island, the track is the perfect example of modern F1 circuit design. Boasting top speeds of 325 km/h and average speeds of 190km/h, it features nine right turns and 12 left turns and is one of the few venues on the calendar to run in an anti-clockwise direction.
Designed by renowned circuit architect Hermann Tilke, Yas Marina has a waterfront setting scenic enough to rival the likes of Monaco and Singapore.
Overall, its diverse elements come together to create 1 of F1’s longest and most demanding tracks, where close and competitive racing is guaranteed.
For the final race of the season, Pirelli have opted for the 3 softest tires in their range: the red-marked supersoft, purple-marked ultrasoft and pink-marked hypersoft.
This will be the last race the purple and pink colors appear on an F1 tire, with next year’s compounds to feature only 3 permanent colors: white, yellow and red.
The surface at Yas Marina is smooth and not especially demanding on tires, allowing those softest compounds to be used. Having said that, with the race starting in the late afternoon and ending in the evening, the drivers will experience ranging track temperatures over the Grand Prix practice and qualifying weekend.
The Weather forcast
As usual in Abu Dhabi, conditions will be settled, with Sun, possibly some partial cloud, and moderate wind each day, and ambient temperature highs of 29 and 32 degrees Celsius Friday and Saturday respectively.
Sunday’s race will be the hottest of the 3 days of action, with temperature highs of 34, though things will get cooler by the time the drivers cross the finish line in the evening under the lights
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix schedule
This weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is set to get underway at 5:10p local time, 13:10p GMT, and 8:10a ET.
UK viewers can watch every session live on Sky Sports F1. Check local listings for all other territories.
For US viewers, all of this weekend’s sessions are live on ESPN, all times Eastern:
Friday — Practice
Practice 1 – Friday, Nov. 23, 4:55a — ESPN2
Practice 2 – Friday, Nov. 23, 7:55a — ESPNU
Saturday — Qualifying
Practice 3 — Saturday, Nov. 24, 4:55a– ESPN2
Qualifying — Saturday, Nov. 24, 7:55a– ESPN2
Sunday — Race
On The Grid — Sunday, Nov. 24, 7:30a — ESPN2
Race — Sunday, Nov. 25, 8:05a — ESPN2
Encore — Sunday, Nov. 25, 9:00p. — ESPNEWS
Encore — Monday, Nov. 26, 12:30a — ESPN2
Tune in and enjoy the racing.