FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

 

Foreword

 

Brazil was rather an eventful Grand Prix and the team has only just dried out from all the rain! The race gained a lot of attention and showed that Formula 1 is definitely a sport people like to talk about. From our perspective it was another race of lessons learnt; all aspects accumulated to assist us with our development for the future.

 

Abu Dhabi is our final Grand Prix in our rookie season as Renault Sport Formula One Team. It has been a tough 20 races so far on track, as we expected, but for us the story has been our real progress made behind the scenes.

 

In terms of our power unit this season we have taken a great step forward in terms of performance and reliability and that is something we expect to continue in 2017. In terms of the infrastructure at Enstone we’re making massive strides with our expansion programme progressing well. The first fruits of this expansion will be seen in next year’s car, the R.S.17.

 

On track in Abu Dhabi we want a strong and positive race to end the season. There will be a lot of attention at the front of the field as the Drivers’ Championship is decided, but for us a strong end to the year would be a good endorsement of all the hard work wrought over the last twelve months. We have faith that both Kevin and Jolyon will deliver what’s expected of them for the final time this season and for Kevin we wish him well for the future.

 

Cyril Abiteboul, managing director

 

 

 

 

Vasseur’s Validation

 

As well as being the first season for Renault Sport Formula One Team it was the first season for Team Principal Fred Vasseur with an official F1 role. He gives his thoughts…

 

Are you surprised with how quickly the season has gone by?

In a certain sense yes, who knows where all the time goes! We’ve certainly been busy in 2016, not only has there been the normal challenges of a race season – and a very long one at that – but we’ve been making and implementing plans for the future. It’s one task after the next so you can really feel that time flies. The season has been a long one and I think that the entire paddock will be glad come Sunday night in Abu Dhabi!

 

What has been the story of your season?

There was a learning and discovery phase to start off with – getting to know people and their methods – and from this a feeling of mutual trust developed. The general atmosphere has been positive and very studious; we are working hard to progress and we are all focussed on the same objectives. Each week there is better collaboration and that’s an important aspect in the future success of the team. We’ve made real progress in 2016.

 

What have been your most memorable moments this season? What were the highs and lows?

Scoring our first points in Sochi was an important milestone for the team and also a relief. Jolyon’s first point was equally important because it was the result of his hard work and another step forward. At the end of the day, being regularly in a position to score is more important than one-offs and we’ve made decent progress to getting to that position.

 

Have the sporting results met our hopes this season?

Our on track performance has matched the reality of our competitiveness this season. At Enstone we’ve been very much in a re-construction phase, building the infrastructure and the R.S.16 was conceived very late relative to its opposition. On paper we knew that the season would be challenging, at the same time fate was in our own hands and early on in the season we decided to focus on 2017. That meant that the 2016 car had very little development and a big chunk of those developments were destined to look ahead at next year. That said, we are still racers so we pushed to be competitive wherever possible, it’s our blood; we wouldn’t have been able to have simply let go! It’s important to progress and to look at each detail that enables us to move forward with the factories or trackside.

 

What are your hopes for the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi?

I’d like us to continue to work seamlessly as a team and to use even the last race of the season to learn lessons for next year.

 

What’s the outlook for the future?

Progress. We’re excited about our new car and can’t wait to see it hit the track in February. We know our driver line-up: Jolyon is already part of the family and we look forward to be starting work with Nico at the end of his contract with Force India. I think that we have a strong line-up for what we need to achieve in 2017.

 

Any final words for Kevin?

We’d like to thank him for his efforts this year as we know it hasn’t been always the easiest. We’d love to see him end his final race for us in the points and we wish him well for the future as he is a very talented driver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mag Light

 

It’s a quick-fire Q&A for Kevin Magnussen ahead of his final race with the team. Give us your thoughts to the following statements Kev…

 

Abu Dhabi: Final race of the year.

 

Yas Marina Circuit: Not my favourite.

 

Day to night race: Cool.

 

Late start lie-in: Good.

 

Favourite corner: Turn three.

 

Should it suit the R.S.16? We’ll see.

 

Best place to overtake: Turn 11.

 

Worst place to overtake: Turn 12.

 

Chemical Brothers, Lionel Richie or Rhianna? Lionel.

 

Nico or Lewis for the Drivers’ Championship? Nico.

 

Your first F1 test in Yas: Awesome experience.

 

P11 in 2014: Not such an awesome experience.

 

2016 race: Hopefully points.

 

Post Abu Dhabi plans? Get drunk!

 

Off season plans: Relax!

 

Comeback year: Good fun with the team.

 

Favourite thing this year: P7 in Russia.

 

Favourite aspect of working with the team: Great banter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

All night long

 

Heading into his final race of his rookie season, Jolyon Palmer is ready to go all night long through the twists and turns of Yas Marina…

 

How’s your motivation heading into the final race of the season?

It’s a nice feeling as I have my 2017 drive all sorted especially as I’m continuing with Renault Sport Formula One Team. I have every incentive to bow out this year with a good result, then work hard over the winter and come back next year stronger than ever.

 

What are your thoughts on Yas?

It’s a track I know really well as I’ve done a lot of GP2 Series laps there. I completed my first-ever Formula 1 test with Force India and then sadly it was only a few FP1 laps there last season for Lotus F1 Team. It’s a nice track and it’s a nice place to end the season. It’s a glamourous event with the additional aspect of racing into the night which is really atmospheric.

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Chemical Brothers, Lionel Richie or Rhianna?

Lionel Richie, all night long.

 

Just how difficult were conditions in Brazil?

It was extremely difficult! I started in sixteenth so that was behind a lot of spray from the cars ahead, then after a pit stop we were right at the back for the second restart. Visibility was really poor and I couldn’t see a thing. You’d come up the hill to the start-finish and there was so much standing water that the car just aquaplaned everywhere. We saw so many incidents as it was a real challenge to keep the car on track. It was a real shame that I hit Daniil Kvyat, but I couldn’t see him until it was too late.

 

What are your feelings looking to 2017?

I’m really very happy to be continuing with the team, especially as it will be for my third season working with Enstone. I’ve learnt a lot this year and I think the second half of this year has been pretty strong. I enjoying working with everyone in the team and I know we’re going places in the future.

 

How has it been racing with Kevin in 2016?

Kevin’s a good guy, a great racer and fun to work with. I think we’ve worked well together this year when we’ve known we’ve had to push to get the most out of the car. I think he’ll do well at Haas and I’m looking forward to racing against him in different coloured cars next season.

 

What are your thoughts on the team’s driver line-up for 2017?

Obviously I’m very happy indeed about 50% of the line-up! I haven’t had the opportunity to get to know Nico yet so I’m looking forward to this happening. Everything I’ve heard about him has been positive and I have faith in the team to have chosen the right drivers for next year and beyond. He’s a highly-rated and hard-working driver so I think we’ll have a positive line-up.

 

Having been part of the team since 2015, what are the differences you’ve seen this season?

It really feels like a much bigger team this year and you do feel part of a far greater entity. The amount of resources and the investment coming in is really quite notable. Renault have come back in as they want to be at the front. You can really feel the buzz in the factory and even at the track – where it’s been a tough season in terms of results – everyone’s been pushing really flat out to make the most of what we’ve got and also get all the foundations in place for the future.

 

What are your plans for the off-season?

I have a busy few weeks wrapping up the year after Abu Dhabi, then Christmas at home and New Year in Thailand. There’s plenty of training planned amidst this, but I’m really looking forward to getting a decent break after 21 races this year.

 

What can you say about next year’s car?

I’ve seen the wind tunnel model and it looks awesome! It’s going to be a great looking car. I’ve driven it on the sim and it’s quick. Of course, the new rules are the same for everyone, and we won’t know how we stack-up against our rivals until we hit the track in Barcelona, but the speeds are higher, the car is more challenging to drive and I think it’s going to be a great spectacle when we race next year.

 

The final countdown

 

Heading into race 21 of 21 of the 2016 Formula 1 season, Chief Technical Officer Bob Bell gives his thoughts on where we’re at.

 

What are the challenges of Yas Marina Circuit?

There are no particular challenges, rather it’s quite a generic track in terms of its requirements. The track surface is smooth, so ride is not too much of an issue – which is a positive for us considering the R.S.16 which can struggle somewhat on bumpier surfaces. In terms of layout, there’s a mix of long straights – a couple connected by a chicane – with some twisty stuff too meaning there’s a bit of everything.

 

More particular is the timing of the race, as it takes place under twilight conditions. FP1 and FP3 take place earlier in the day than qualifying and the race, so they’re not terribly representative of competitive conditions. The track temperature decreases quite a bit after the sun sets so we need to consider this when determining a set-up for the car, making it less straight-forward than at other race meetings.

 

What are the hopes for the team for Abu Dhabi?

As a start we’re expecting far more predictable weather conditions than we saw in Brazil, so it would be really nice to have both cars in Q2 and to end the race adding to our points tally for the year. It’s a realistic hope if everything goes our way over the weekend, including some misfortune for others! It would be a tremendous boost for the team going into the winter.

 

What was learnt in Brazil?

It was a wet and exciting race and the first time we’ve run around there on Pirelli wet tyres so that was something of an unknown for everyone. It was essentially a wet tyre race for most of the time, albeit with some periods when the inters came to the fore. Kevin in particular looked good on the intermediates later on in the race, so there were some positive lessons learnt. It was unfortunate Jolyon retired from the race, but when you see the on-board footage with the level of visibility it’s not surprising an incident like that happened due to the sheer amount of spray. We did evaluate if there was sufficient time to repair the car under the red flag conditions but there was just too much work to be done in the time available. We never stop learning, both with our current car and also how we work and approach race weekends, so there was plenty accumulated in the knowledge bank for the future.

 

How would you sum-up Renault Sport Formula One Team’s first season?

This year was not solely about sporting achievement, it’s been about building for the future so we can create a better car and build a better, stronger team. We’ve seen that Viry have taken a huge step forward with the power unit, and Viry has also been adapting to its new status as being part of a works team rather than a stand-alone power unit supplier. Enstone, however, has seen the bulk of the changes and off-track growth has been the key message from this season. The foundations for the future have been laid.

 

What happens after Abu Dhabi?

We’re rather occupied with producing the R.S.17! We are also continuing unabated with recruitment and replenishing the infrastructure at Enstone. There’s lots of new equipment arriving almost on a daily basis and parking spaces are becoming a yet more scarce commodity! The challenge is not only developing and building next year’s car, but building and developing the organisation in unison with this. Anyone who wants to see the commitment of the team and Renault to this project should come visit Enstone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circuit notes

 

T1: The first corner is medium speed – taken at around 130kph. Leading to the high speed turns 2+3, both of which should be flat out in qualifying and only giving drivers something to think about when they have heavy fuel loads.

 

T2: A defining corner for set-up. This corner has the greatest need for front wing to eradicate understeer so sets the level for the track.

 

T5: One of the bigger braking demands on the track, braking from around 300kph.

 

T7: A second gear corner taken at around 70kph, strong engine pick-up is vital out of turn seven for a good entry onto the circuit’s longest straight.

 

T8: Arriving at one of the longest straights in Formula 1 – with maximum speeds of around 320kph – heavy braking down to second gear and around 80kph is required for turns 8-9. The kerbs are used aggressively through this combination so suspension  compliance is beneficial.

 

T11: Another long straight with speeds in excess of 300kph leads to another heavy braking zone for turn 11. The turn 11-13 sequence requires good change of direction from the car.

 

Power Unit notes

Yas Marina is a mid-range power track, but it is particularly hard on the ICE due to the long 1.2km back straight where the power unit will be at full throttle for 14secs.

 

Over 50% of the lap is spent at full throttle, with average speeds of 190kph, similar to the Circuit de Gilles-Villeneuve. Top speed will peak at over 330kph down the back straight between Turns 7 and 8. This may seem slow in comparison to the highs of Mexico and Brazil, but it’s just as impressive as the cars will be running medium to high downforce settings and the sea-level air is much denser than at high altitude.

 

Fuel consumption per km is the fifth highest of the season behind Melbourne, Montreal, Zeltweg and Sochi. The first two sectors are relatively fuel efficient but the stops and starts of the final sector dramatically increase the consumption. It is increased further by the sea level altitude and running in the lower temperatures after sunset.

 

 

Tyre choice

 

Soft: Capable of migrating large distances, the Alpine swift Tachymarptis melba is an extraordinary bird, spending much of its life on the wing and often seen above the desert of the UAE.

 

Supersoft: A magnificent flier, the ashy drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus is an agile and highly mobile bird, executing remarkable twists and turns in the air with extreme skill and speed.

 

Ultrasoft: Like the Lanner falcon Falco biarmicus – one of the oldest species of heirofalcons – a fast, agile hunter.

 

 

Memory Lane

The Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi has provided some championship showdowns, and some classic races. One of the most enjoyable came in 2012 when Kimi Räikkönen took an unexpected win for Lotus F1 Team. Lotus had had several podiums over the year, but strong competition from Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren meant that a win had so far eluded them. Kimi Räikkönen’s engine engineer, Ricardo Penteado, recalls when the team finally secured that victory:

 

“Lewis Hamilton had taken pole, but we’d also had a strong qualifying, with Kimi taking fourth on the grid. Lewis held the line through the first corner and converted his pole but Kimi got a flying start and moved into second. I can remember thinking that this would be a great result if it carried on like this, but until lap 20 it was all fairly routine. Kimi challenged Lewis for the lead a couple of times, but there wasn’t anything that stuck.

 

‘But on lap 20 it all changed as Lewis stopped with a technical problem. Kimi was in the lead! At this point everything in the garage became a lot more pressured as we could be in for the win rather than just a podium.

 

“I can’t recall very much about the mid-point of the race as we were just concentrating and keeping going, but in the final stages Fernando Alonso was getting closer and closer. An already tense garage got even more tense.

 

“You could hear it in the radio communications in the garage and particularly to Kimi himself…his engineer kept giving him instructions – probably more for his own reassurance – but Kimi just shrugged it all off and told him to leave him alone, he knew what he was doing! It was a moment of comedy in the middle of the stress, and we all laughed. There were always things like that with Kimi, it was never dull on the radio!

 

“For us on the engine side we also knew that it was going to be tight. Kimi was pushing so much that we were looking marginal to finish the race and have enough for the fuel sample afterwards. Certainly without the four safety car laps between laps 39 and 42 we would have certainly needed to stop the car just after the chequered flag.

 

“It was really cool after the race. You could see how much it meant to everyone. It had been an amazing race in all aspects, but certainly not easy. Everyone felt like we had really earned it.”

 

Abu Dhabi – quirky facts

 

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates which have the same name for their capital city – Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain. Emir means commander in Arabic, hence the name Emirates meaning ruled by an Emir.

UAE has an average temperature of 33.4 Celsius across the year with 25 days of rain at a total of 94mm. There are no rivers in the United Arab Emirates.

 

5,056 glass panels form the outer shell of the Yas Hotel at the Yas Marina circuit and are looked after by a team of 15 abseiling window-cleaners. It takes them one month to clean the whole exterior of the building.

 

The Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai, the world’s tallest building, is seven times bigger than Big Ben.

 

The Statue of Liberty would fit comfortably in the lobby of the Burj al Arab hotel.

 

Ski Dubai in the UAE is the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East and has 22,500 square metres covered with real snow for skiing.

 

 

Renault Sport Academy and test drivers round up.

 

Renault Sport Academy

 

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race weekend represents the final race meeting of the season for drivers from the Renault Sport Academy with the finales of the GP2 and GP3 Series seasons.

 

Oliver Rowland:

A mixed bag of results in Malaysia for Oliver leaves him eighth in the GP2 Championship heading into the final round at Yas Marina. Oliver was in the running for a podium in Sepang, but a spin at the end of the Feature race left him in P12. A top five finish in the standings isn’t out of reach but he’ll need to piece together a good weekend to reel in the 15 point deficit to compatriot Jordan King.

 

Jack Aitken:

After a strong second half of the GP3 season puts Jack in good stead as he prepares for the finale in Abu Dhabi.

 

Kevin Joerg:

Kevin will be aiming to end the season on a high after a learning curve year in GP3. A P5 in Barcelona in the opener makes up the majority of his season’s points tally.

 

Louis Deletraz:

After finishing second in the Formula v8 3.5 championship, just seven points behind winner Tom Dillmann, Louis will have the opportunity to race in GP2 in Abu Dhabi for Carlin Motorsport as a one off.

 

Test, Third and Reserve Driver Action

 

Esteban Ocon

A superb drive in São Paulo for Manor underlined Esteban’s potential for the future. The Brazilian weekend was a busy one for Ocon as he was also confirmed as a race driver for Force India for 2017.

 

Nicholas Latifi:

Nicholas will be aiming to finish the GP2 season on a high as a tough year sees him sit seventeenth in the championship despite a P2 finish in the opening Feature race of the season in Barcelona.

 

Sergey Sirotkin:

Sergey impressed the team with his FP1 session in Brazil, even if it was shortened by car issues. He heads to Abu Dhabi with the mathematical chance of finishing third in the championship but with two of his rivals very close on points behind his current P4 in the standings. Last time out in Sepang, P2 in the Feature race saw him heap the pressure in the standings on Raffaelle Marciello in third, but a mechanical issue in the Sprint meant a no-score.

 

Renault e.dams

 

Whilst Renault Sport Formula One team were busy with qualifying in Brazil last weekend, their electric cousins at Renault e.dams were hard at it on the streets of Marrakesh for the second round of season three of the FIA Formula E Championship.

 

A post-qualifying penalty had seen championship leader Sébastien Buemi punted down the order to P7 on the grid for the Marrakesh ePrix, but Séb was on a charge for both stints of the race at the Circuit International Automobile Moulay El Hassan.

 

Team strategy allied to efficient energy deployment and exemplary driving saw Séb’s eighth career Formula E win and his second of Formula E season three. Nico Prost came home with fourth place giving the squad a very healthy lead in the Teams standings to accompany Séb’s lead of the drivers.

 

Infiniti Hybrid Fact

Carnival is king in Brazil. And you don’t need petrol to have a party! The 284MH of power recovered by the Renault / INFINITI ERS during the Brazilian GP could power 14 electric carnival floats. Buzzing!