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Abu Dhabi GP: Track notes, DRS, tyres, stats and more

NEWS STORY
28/11/2019

The only changes to the Yas Marina track ahead of this year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, are a short section of the track in the vicinity of the start line which has been resurfaced, while the additional orange kerb element on the exit of Turn 20 has been removed and replaced with one of a similar type. ln addition, the first 7m of this additional kerb element has been removed.

There are two DRS zones. The first zone's detection point is 40m before Turn 7, with an activation point 270m after Turn 7, while the second detection point is 50m after Turn 9 and the second activation takes place 165m after Turn 9.

For the final race of the year, Pirelli is bringing the very softest combination of tyres in its range: C3 as the hard, C4 as the medium, and C5 as the soft.

These are well-matched to the smooth surface of the Yas Marina circuit, providing the optimal compromise between performance and grip at a race that starts in the late afternoon and ends in the evening. After the grand prix, testing begins for next year with all the teams.

Yas Marina is almost exactly average for the season when it comes to severity, with smooth asphalt and a well-balanced mix of corners that is more about traction and braking than lateral forces.

Historically, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has been a one-stopper, with low wear and degradation. This looks set to be the case again this year, with the hardest choice a step harder than in 2018 (when supersoft, ultrasoft, and hypersoft were chosen).

Last year's race was won by Lewis Hamilton, the Briton on a one-stop strategy. Indeed, only one driver, teammate Valtteri Bottas, opted for a two-stopper, the Finn going on to finish fifth.

There's been a harder tyre choice made compared to previous seasons at a few races this year: this is to help drivers to push to the maximum during each stint, rather than manage their pace to guarantee a one-stopper.

With the race going through until the evening, track temperatures tend to fall quite drastically as the race progresses. As the car gets lighter on fuel, this can alter the pattern of tyre behaviour to potentially increase stint lengths. It also means that the FP1 and FP3 sessions aren't particularly representative.

With the F1 season drawing to a close, many fans will now turn to football and look to bet on the Euro 2020 winner, especially after England sealed its progression to the finals next year following a very successful qualification.

In terms of the engine, 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, Spielberg 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.

Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver in Abu Dhabi. The Briton has won this race on four occasions: for McLaren in 2011 and for Mercedes in 2014, 2016 and 2018. Sebastian Vettel can match him this weekend. Vettel has won the race three times, in 2009, 2010 and 2013, all for Red Bull Racing.

The other winners in the current field are Kimi Raikkonen, who won for Lotus in 2012, and Valtteri Bottas, victorious for Mercedes in 2017. The only other winner of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is Nico Rosberg, who took victory in 2015.

Hamilton and Vettel are also the only ever-present drivers in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix field, although, of the current roster, Robert Kubica, Romain Grosjean and Raikkonen also contested the inaugural race in 2009.

The Drivers' Championship has been decided at Yas Marina on three occasions. Vettel and Hamilton took the title with victories in 2010 and 2014 respectively. Rosberg took the title with second position in 2016.

A front row start has proved crucial at Yas Marina, with five victories from pole position - including the last four races - and four wins from P2 on the grid. The only driver to secure victory from behind the front row was Kimi Raikkonen, who won from P4 in 2012.

With one exception, every driver to finish on the podium at Yas Marina has started from the front three rows. That exception is Vettel, who finished third in 2012, having started from the pitlane. He qualified in P3 but ran out of fuel on his in-lap. Unable to provide a fuel sample he was disqualified. Vettel's 21-place gain is a record for the 21st Century and the most sizeable net gain since Christian Danner rose from 26th to fourth at the 1989 US Grand Prix.

The four full-season rookies are all experienced at Yas Marina. George Russell took a feature win last year in Formula 2 and also drove in the 2017 GP3 Championship. Antonio Giovinazzi contested GP2 in 2016, Alex Albon raced in GP3 in 2016 and F2 in 2017 and 2018, and Lando Norris contested the 2017 and 2018 F2 races. Albon is the only one of the four who has not driven an F1 car at Yas Marina. Last year, Giovinazzi, Norris and Russell all took part in the end-of-season test for their current teams. Norris also tested here for McLaren in 2017. Additionally, Giovinazzi and Russell also drove in 2017's FP1 session: the Italian for Haas and the Briton for Force India.

The inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ended the 2009 season on November 1st 2009. The 2019 race takes place a full month later. It is the first time since 1963 that the F1 season has run into December. That year, the 10-race season began at Monaco at the end of May and ended in South Africa at East London's Prince George circuit on December 28th.

Check out our Thursday gallery from Yas Marina, here.

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