Round 20 of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship takes place this weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit, home of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. This is the final destination of a season that began on March 26th in Melbourne.
F1’s only day/night race, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has established itself as a popular end of season destination and, also a favoured testing venue, regularly hosting a post season test. This is partially because the facilities are excellent but also because the circuit offers a variety of challenges that test every aspect of car performance.
The three sectors of the lap are quite different: the first features high speed turns, the second has long straights, while the final sector around the marina is low—speed and highly technical. The cars also experience heavy braking demands but also need good traction out of the low—speed corners, tight chicanes and hairpin.
As is the case with the night race in Bahrain, the first and third practice sessions take place in full daylight. Their usefulness in preparing for twilight qualifying and a twilight race is limited, as track temperature changes fundamentally alter the car balance. Thus, much greater emphasis is placed on FP2, which shares a start time of 1700 — half an hour before sunset — with both qualifying and the race.
Pirelli are bringing their three softest compounds to Yas. The circuit is relatively smooth and gentle on rubber. Last year the top three all made two stops, though Max Verstappen finished in fourth place on a one—stop strategy.
With both titles decided, attention moves to the minor placings with several fierce battles to be decided. In the Drivers’ Championship, second place is still in play, with Sebastian Vettel 22 points ahead of Valtteri Bottas. Fourth is also undecided, with Daniel Ricciardo seven points ahead of Kimi Raikkéjnen. At the other end of the table, Marcus Ericsson, Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley will be keen to register a first point of the year.
In the Constructors’ Championship the major interest lies with the midfield battle for sixth, seventh and eighth. Toro Rosso currently lead that fight with 53 points, to Renault’s 49 and Haas’ 47.
YAS MARINA CIRCUIT
Length of lap: 5.554km
1:40.279 (Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing, 2009)
Start line/ﬁnish line offset: 0.115km
Total number of race laps: 55
Total race distance: 305.355km
Pitlane speed limits:
80km/h in practice, qualifying, and the race