Abu Dhabi Grand PrixView

By on Thursday, November 20, 2014
Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

It’s hard to believe that it’s been eight months since the first race of the 2014 Formula 1 season in Australia but the paddock has now reconvened for the final time this year – and with a world title at stake. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be a race full of emotions not only for the two title contenders but also for those who still have a chance to finish on a higher position in the standings.

All eyes will be on Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg this weekend with the pair set to scrap it out for this year’s world title. Hamilton heads Rosberg by 17 points and claimed a win at the track in 2011, along with pole positions in 2009 and 2012. But in Brazil two weeks ago it was Rosberg who came out on top when he ended Hamilton’s win streak, which had started back at the Italian Grand Prix.

The venue for this weekend’s finale is the no-expense-spared Yas Marina Circuit, which joined the Formula 1 calendar in 2009 and has been a championship decider before, when Sebastian Vettel beat Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber to the 2010 crown. But this year, in one of the most unpopular rule changes in Formula 1 history, double points will be on offer throughout the top 10.

The Track

Yas Marina is the second Formula 1 track in Middle East after Bahrain and was the first day/night race in the history of the sport. It is another anti-clockwise circuit which contains 21 corners (9 right, 12 left), all in 5.554 km.

Scuderia Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari

The circuit provides a big challenge to the engineers as they need to find the right compromise in set-up in order for the car to perform well in all these circumstances. An extra challenge comes from the fact that the race starts in the daytime and finishes under lights, which translates in finding a good balance between the hot weather and cooler temperatures when the sun sets.

“The track is like a street-circuit in one sector with slow corners and barriers quite close, and then a traditional circuit in the other with very long straights and flowing corners. We race in the evening but practice during the heat of the day, so to adapt the car towards cooler conditions is important, it can save a lot of time if you get this right,” Williams’ Felipe Massa says.

The layout makes it very difficult for the drivers to get a good rhythm and put together a fast lap, but very easy to make mistakes.

"It's a fun, tricky track to drive on. It's a circuit of a number of almost completely different sections: fast corners and two long straights in Sectors One and Two, and a tight, twisty, slow-speed bit in Sector Three. It means set-up is an interesting challenge, but, as it's not such a fast circuit, it doesn't require quite as much downforce as some of the other circuits we've been to recently,” McLaren’s Jenson Button explains.

How the title can be won

Hamilton leads Rosberg by 17 points but with 50 up for grabs for the winner of Sunday’s Grand Prix, there are several permutations which could swing the title either way.

Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas

For Hamilton, the outlook is fairly simple. If he wins the race, he will be World Champion for a second time. If he finishes in second place – even if Rosberg claims the victory – he will wrap up the title. And if Rosberg cannot finish in the top five, Hamilton will be World Champion irrespective of his own result.

Rosberg requires a helping hand from a rival or from lady luck as he cannot win the world title under ‘normal circumstances’ – with the duo having finished 1-2 11 times this season in the dominant Mercedes W05 Hybrid.

If Rosberg wins the race, he needs Hamilton to finish third or worse if he is to emulate father Keke and become Formula 1 Champion.

Here’s the full list of permutations for this weekend’s race in Abu Dhabi:

Hamilton will win the title if:

  • He finishes first or second
  • He finishes third, fourth or fifth and Rosberg doesn't win
  • He finishes sixth and Rosberg is outside of the top three
  • He finishes eighth and Rosberg is outside of the top four
  • He finishes ninth or worse and Rosberg is outside of the top five
  • Rosberg does not finish in the top five

Rosberg will win the title if:

  • He finishes first and Hamilton does not finish second
  • He finishes second and Hamilton is outside of the top five
  • He finishes third and Hamilton is outside of the top six
  • He finishes fourth and Hamilton is outside of the top eight
  • He finishes fifth and Hamilton is outside of the top nine.

The race



Caterham will be back on the grid this weekend after missing the last two races in United States and Brazil, due to ongoing financial issues. Kamui Kobayashi will race for the squad for this weekend's season finale. The identity of their second driver is yet to be announced.

However, perennial rivals Marussia missed out on a return in Abu Dhabi as frantic last-minute discussions which would have enabled the team to head to the United Arab Emirates ultimately ended without a successful outcome.

Pirelli has nominated its yellow-banded Soft and red-banded Super Soft compounds for this race, a combination which has been used five times this season.

The two DRS zones at Yas Marina will be on the back straights, with separate detection points before Turn 7 and after Turn 9.

Indianapolis 500 winner and CART Champion Danny Sullivan will play the driver steward role at the season finale on Sunday.

The race in Abu Dhabi will mark the end of several long-term relationships in the sport.

McLaren and Mercedes will head their separate ways next week with McLaren set to trial Honda power at the post-race test ahead of the renewal of its partnership with the Japanese manufacturer for 2015.

McLaren’s move to Honda enabled Lotus to make the jump to Mercedes power for 2015 and thus the Enstone-based teams lengthy relationship with Renault – a partnership which stretches back to Michael Schumacher’s title-winning 1995 campaign – will end.

Another lengthy relationship ending is that between Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull. The outgoing world champion has been with the energy drinks giant since his formative days in karting and has raced with the team in Formula 1 since 2007, firstly at Toro Rosso and then at Red Bull. But for 2015 he is set to head to Ferrari and thus his Red Bull deal will end.


Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

Three drivers on the grid have won in Abu Dhabi: Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen. Only one from five races was won from pole position, with the lowest winning grid position being 4th – Raikkonen, in 2012.

The Abu Dhabi GP presents the last opportunity for Ferrari and McLaren to score their first victory of the season. Failing to do so means that this will be the first time since 1980 that none of them has triumphed. The race will also be Sebastian Vettel’s last chance to record his first victory in 2014. The last time a reigning world champion failed to a win a race the following season was in 1998, when Jacques Villeneuve managed only a few podiums for Williams.

As a season recap, both Mercedes’ drivers share the same front row starts (14) and podium finishes (15) in 2014. But Hamilton has more wins - 10 to Rosberg’s 5 -, and more fastest laps - 7 to Rosberg’s 5. On the other hand, Rosberg has scored more pole positions - 10 to Hamilton’s 7 -, and led more laps - 482 to Hamilton’s 455.

Timetable (GMT +4)

Friday 21 November

  • Practice One: 13:00 - 14:30
  • Practice Two: 17:00 - 18:30

Saturday 22 November

  • Practice Three: 14:00 - 15:00
  • Qualifying: 17:00 (60 minutes)

Sunday 23 November

  • Race: 17:00 (55 laps or two hours)

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