The titles may be wrapped up but there are still three Formula 1 races to win before the season is over. The first of those takes place at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull are the 2013 champions but the Formula 1 season is not yet over. Three teams are in the fight for second place in the constructors’ standings while there is still a mathematical possibility for any of the five drivers behind Vettel to be crowned vice-champion.
The paddock returns to the Middle East this weekend for Round 17 of the Championship at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. Considered one of the most spectacular and technologically-advanced circuits on the calendar, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the only race which begins before sunset and ends at night.
The track requires good downforce and finding the right set-up will be a compromise which should allow the car to be fast down the straights, flexible over the kerbs, but with good grip through the slower corners.
Pirelli will provide the medium and soft compounds again this weekend. With the same tyres last year most drivers stopped just once, but the manufacturer expects a two-stop strategy this time.
The DRS zones at Yas Marina will be on the two back straights, with the detection point right before Turn 7 and right after Turn 9.
Away from Formula 1, the GP2 and GP3 titles will be decided at the circuit this weekend.
Formula 1 first came to Abu Dhabi in 2007 as part of a free Formula 1 Festival.During the event it was revealed that Abu Dhabi had won the rights to host a Grand Prix from 2009 until 2016.
The facility opened its doors to the world and was granted final approval on 7 October 2009, after two years of intensive planning and construction. Bruno Senna. was the first driver to complete a test run on the track.
Situated on Yas Island, about 30 minutes from the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina is the second Formula 1 track in the Middle East after Bahrain.
The inaugural event was held on 1 November, as the final race of the championship. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is among the latest additions to the F1 calendar and has rapidly grown in popularity.
Yas Marina is a 5.554 km length circuit and was designed by Hermann Tilke. Each of its three sections is very different to the other. The first one is the shortest and features a medium and two high-speed corners. The speed increases during the next sector which is dominated by two long back straights, but also includes some low-speed turns. The final sector it’s a sequence of low to medium speed corners, which require a lot of traction.
“The track is pretty tricky and technical, especially the last sector which has a lot of twisty, 90-degree corners. It’s easy to get it wrong and overdo it in qualifying. It’s not one of my most favourite circuits. I think it’s too much stop-and-go and it’s missing a flow. We will have plenty of work to do so we can understand the tyres,” Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg says.
With not so many overtaking possibilities, qualifying will play an important role for getting a good result in the race.
One unique aspect of the circuit is the underground pit exit, which runs along the outside of the pit straight before cutting beneath the first corner and sending the drivers back on track on the outside of turn three.
Part of the circuit also runs under the spectacular illuminated Yas Viceroy hotel.
Vettel won the first two Abu Dhabi Grands Prix with Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen winning the other two races. Raikkonen’s victory from fourth last year is the only occasion when the race has been won from off the front row. That was his first victory since he returned to Formula 1 and also the first win for Lotus since 1987.
In 2010 the circuit hosted the title decider when, for the first time in Formula 1 history, four drivers could win the championship. The title went to Vettel, who became the youngest Formula 1 champion at 23 years of age.
Yas Marina was build with a permanent lighting system and became the largest permanent sports venue lighting project in the world. The title was previously held by Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
Outside the circuit is Ferrari World, the largest indoor amusement park in the world and the home of the world’s fastest roller coaster which reaches a speed of 240 km/h.
Friday 1 November
- Practice 1: 13.00 – 14.30
- Practice 2: 17.00 – 18.30
Saturday 2 November
- Practice 3: 14.00-15.00
- Qualifying: 17.00-18.00
Sunday 3 November
- Race: 17.00