LOOKING AHEAD TO ABU DHABI
Our official race previews are your guide for every lap of every race in 2017.
Hear from the team, drivers and management as we prepare for the 20th and final round of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship at Yas Marina Circuit.
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Race title 2017 FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX
Circuit name Yas Marina Circuit
First race 2009
2016 Lewis Hamilton, 55 laps, 1:38:04.013s
2015 Nico Rosberg
2014 Lewis Hamilton
History lesson This is the ninth Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit. The track is a stunning venue for Formula 1, having cost £800m to build and it has several unique features. The pitlane exit passes underneath the track, the pit garages are air-conditioned and the circuit has the largest permanent lighting system in the world. This is the sixth time that Yas Marina has hosted F1’s season finale
City Abu Dhabi
Time zone GMT+4/CET+3
How far? Abu Dhabi is 5,520km (3,430 miles) from the McLaren Technology Centre
Getting there As with all of the flyaway races, the pre-set up crew headed to Abu Dhabi 10 days before the race. The mechanics followed on Monday of this week and the race engineers on Tuesday
Surprising fact The average net worth of Abu Dhabi’s 420,000 indigenous citizens is US$17 million
Local speciality Traditional food in the UAE is spicy and meat-based. One of the most popular dishes is Shawarma, which is similar to a kebab. Mix chicken or lamb with garlic sauce, pickles, potatoes and tomatoes, and wrap it in an Arabic roti. To accentuate the rich Arabian tastes, it’s usually washed down with a strawberry and banana fruit drink
Weather You’re in the desert: it’s dry and hot. Daytime temperatures hover between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius at this time of year
Track length 5.554km/3.451 miles (seventh-longest track of the year – longest: Spa-Francorchamps, shortest: Monaco)
2016 pole position Lewis Hamilton, 1m38.755s
2016 fastest lap Sebastian Vettel, 1m43.729s (lap 43)
Lap record 1:40.279s (Sebastian Vettel, 2009)
Tyre choice Purple Ultrasoft, red Supersoft and yellow Soft – the 10th time this combination has been used in 2017
Distance to Turn One 300m/0.186 miles (longest of season: Mexico 800m/0.497 miles)
Longest straight 1.2km/0.746 miles, on the approach to Turn One (longest of the season: Baku, 2.1km/1.305 miles)
Top speed 320km/h/199mph, on the approach to Turn Eight (fastest of season: Monza, 360km/h/224mph)
Full throttle 63 per cent (highest of the season: Monza, 75 per cent)
Brakewear High. There are 13 braking zones around the lap, which means 18 per cent of the lap is spent braking
Fuel consumption 1.80kg per lap, which is relatively high
ERS demands Medium. Efficient ERS deployment is crucial at the exit of the slow corners, but there are plenty of opportunities to recoup the energy under braking
Gear changes 69 per lap/3,740 per race
Laps 55 laps
Start time 17:00hrs local/13:00hrs GMT/14:00hrs CET
Grid advantage Pole position is on the right-hand-side of the track, on the racing line. Turn One is a left-hander, but the increased traction away from the line should lead to an advantage by the braking zone
DRS There are two DRS zones, on the approaches to Turns Eight and 11
Don’t put the kettle on… Two pitstops has been the go-to pit strategy at Yas Marina Circuit. Hamilton won with two stops last year and Rosberg was victorious with two stops in 2015, both drivers pitting around laps 10 and 25. This year’s harder tyre compounds might make one pitstop possible, depending on the amount of degradation
Pitlane length/Pitstops 360m/0.224 miles (longest of the season: Silverstone, 457m/0.283 miles). It takes 22s to make a stop and drivers need to be careful not to crash in the tunnel at pit exit
Safety Car likelihood 40 per cent. If there is contact between cars, it’s often made at the chicanes, which are both low-speed. That results in relatively little debris and few Safety Cars
Watch out for… Sunset. Visibility can be tricky at Turns 14 and 19 when the sun is going down. It only lasts a handful of laps, but drivers need to be wary because there are blind spots
“As another season comes to a close, Abu Dhabi is a fantastic circuit to visit to round off another year of racing. There’s a really unique atmosphere – the year feels like it has gone quickly, but equally there’s a feeling of finality and everybody in the team who has worked so hard all year is looking forward to the winter break. It means there’s huge anticipation from everyone to perform well in the final race of the season, and it usually gives us great racing and we see everyone giving everything they have to finish on a positive note.
“Yas Marina Circuit is a trickier one for us than Brazil. We had an unexpectedly good result at Interlagos, but we’re anticipating a tougher challenge in Abu Dhabi. Of course, the whole team wants to finish the season on a high, so we’re working hard to extract every last bit of performance out of the MCL32. Qualifying is crucial on this track because overtaking is tricky, so it’s important we get the set-up right as early as we can in the weekend.
“Racing on this circuit is a really special way to end the season – racing in twilight and then the dark, and in ever-evolving conditions makes it interesting for the drivers, and I’m sure this year’s cars will be super fun to drive around this track. I’m looking forward to it and I hope we can end the season with a strong result as a reward for all the efforts of the whole team this year.”
“It’s good to finish the season at a circuit I know well after a couple of new ones in the past few races. I’ve driven at Yas Marina Circuit a number of times – in testing and also in GP2, and I’ve won here twice, which are really special memories. I’m looking forward to tackling it again in a Formula 1 car – it’s a tricky, technical circuit, but rewarding, and because of its configuration it’s pretty difficult to overtake.
“Racing from day to night isn’t something I’ve experienced much of in Abu Dhabi because of the timings of the GP2 races, but driving as the sun goes down is really cool. I like racing on this circuit and there’s definitely a special feeling at this grand prix. It’s a strange mix between that ‘end-of-term’ feeling and a lot of anticipation about the weekend ahead, before everyone goes home for a break and then starts working on next year’s car.
“This year has been full of ups and downs for us. For me, I had a difficult start to the year, but as the season has progressed I’ve worked really hard with the team and feel that I’ve come into my own. I’m more comfortable in the cockpit now than ever before, and my rate of progression over the second half of the season has been very satisfying. It’s been a challenging year, but ultimately a rewarding one because I’ve learned a lot, and I can’t wait to see what next year will bring. We’ll be pushing hard this weekend to finish the year on a high.”
McLAREN HONDA RACING DIRECTOR
“As we look ahead to the sun setting on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the 2017 season, I’m proud of the battles we’ve fought and the achievements we’ve made as team this year, despite the lack of results and their respective influence on the championship table. Every member of our team has worked tirelessly to improve our package, race by race, and this weekend will be no exception, as we strive to make the most of every session before the close of the season for the winter shutdown.
“We use every single opportunity on track to evaluate and improve our package and learn valuable lessons for next year, and this weekend will be just as important as ever. With the relative stability in the regulations between 2017 and ’18, it means a lot of the data we’ve gathered, especially over the last few races, will still stand us in good stead over the winter and help inform the all-important decisions we make on next year’s package.
“I know I can speak for the whole team when I say that each and every one of us embarks on our final grand prix weekend as McLaren Honda in Abu Dhabi with both optimism and respect. Every single person has worked incredibly hard over the past three years and remained committed through the highs and lows we’ve experienced together until the very last race. All of us will go into the weekend with exactly the same aim – to work hard and do everything we can to finish the season positively.”
HONDA R&D CO. LTD HEAD OF F1 PROJECT & EXECUTIVE CHIEF ENGINEER
“With the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, we mark the end of a long and challenging 2017 Formula 1 season. The weekend is also significant as it is our final race as McLaren Honda. Despite this, everyone will be fully focussed on extracting the full potential from our package and continuing the momentum we have built over the last few races.
“Yas Marina is a unique track with a traditional racetrack and street-like circuit combined into one. This makes it challenging for the engineers to find the perfect set-up as each sector is very different, from low-speed 90-degree corners to full-throttle straights. Unlocking power and managing fuel will also be key.
“Finally, I am incredibly proud of how hard everyone in the team has worked this this season. I hope that we can end the year on a high, not just for them, but also for the McLaren Honda fans around the world that have supported us during the last three seasons.”