JEAN-ERIC VERGNE (25): “…The race itself is bound to be interesting because of the double points on offer. The fact the race starts in daylight and ends under floodlights also adds something to the ambience…”
DANIIL KVYAT (26): “…I like the track a lot, as it has an interesting and technical layout, which encourages you to push hard…”
Eight months on from the opening round in Australia, it’s finale time, as the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the 19th round of the season, brings the curtain down on the first year of racing under the most radical rule changes in several decades. There are many factors that make this race unique, starting with the fact it is the only Grand Prix on the calendar named after a city – the capital of the United Arab Emirates – rather than a country. It is the only twilight race, starting in bright sunshine and ending under floodlights at night time. This year, the main talking point is that double points are on offer, which could affect the outcome of the World Championship titles and other places in the standings. Apart from a couple of straights, the Yas Marina circuit is very much a stop-go street-type venue and as such, marks the return of the two softest tyres in the Pirelli range, the Soft and Supersoft. The track surface is smooth but very slippery as the slightest breeze blows sand from the surrounding desert across its surface and tyre wear can be a problem, partly because of the softer set-up used on the cars to promote traction out of the slow corners. That also has an affect on the power units so that fuel consumption will be a consideration. Heat is a factor for the engines, many of them reaching the end of their life cycle this weekend, even if they get some respite as the unusual timing of the race means temperatures go down rather than the usual up as the race evolves. Given that he will drive for Scuderia Toro Rosso on both days of the Abu Dhabi test that starts on the Tuesday following the Grand Prix, Max Verstappen will have a good opportunity to learn the track then. This means he will not take part in the Friday morning session, therefore Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat are our only drivers this weekend.
A great track facility, nice hotels to stay in, good food and lovely sunny weather – a pleasant way to end the season. As for the track itself, it is not one of my favourites, but it does present some interesting challenges. The race itself is bound to be interesting because of the double points on offer. The fact the race starts in daylight and ends under floodlights also adds something to the ambience. I think the atmosphere in the paddock will be electric this weekend because it’s the championship decider.
Last year I was in Abu Dhabi, but not to drive in FP1. I was only focussing on my GP3 weekend, which went very well as I won the championship, making it a very memorable weekend for me. I was aware of everyone watching me very closely as it had already been announced that I would be racing for Scuderia Toro Rosso the following year. It was important to show what I was made of. I like the track a lot, as it has an interesting and technical layout, which encourages you to push hard. It will be very different in a Formula One car naturally and I’m looking forward to finding out what it’s like. The season comes to an end on Sunday night and although everyone needs a break sometimes, you like to do what you do, so in a way it’s a shame it will be over. But I will be pleased to recharge my batteries in preparation for next year when a new challenge lies ahead and I am already looking forward to that.