Abu Dhabi GP: Preview - Haas

07/12/2021
NEWS STORY

Uralkali Haas F1 Team is ready to go racing one more time in 2021 with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix set to bring down the curtain on the 22-round Formula 1 season.

Abu Dhabi joined Formula 1's calendar in 2009 at the purpose-built Yas Marina Circuit, becoming the championship's first day-night event, courtesy of the facility being equipped with 5,000 lights. Yas Marina will play host to Formula 1's season finale for the eighth successive season, and 10th time overall, with only Australia's Adelaide having held the championship's curtain-closer on more occasions.

It will be the final race for the current specification cars, ahead of an overhaul of the regulations, while Formula 1 also waves goodbye to 13-inch tires, with 18-inch versions set to come in for 2022.

But for 2021's swansong there are still some new factors to explore. For the first time since its debut in 2009 Yas Marina's layout has been amended in a bid to facilitate better racing while providing more of a challenge for teams and drivers. The previous Turn 5/6/7 complex has been replaced by a hairpin while the old Turn 11-14 sequence has been replaced by a sweeping corner.

Some other corners, most notably in the final sector of the lap around the iconic honeycombed W Hotel, have been reprofiled and resurfaced in order to create a faster and more flowing track. That is set to lower lap times by around 10 seconds, with the circuit now consisting of 16 turns, while a new race distance has been set at 58 laps.

The event also brings down the curtain on year one for Uralkali Haas F1 Team racers Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher. It is a venue that acted as milestones in the careers of both drivers. Mazepin secured the GP3 Series Vice Champion trophy in 2018 while in 2020 Schumacher's first on-track outing with Uralkali Haas F1 Team came at Yas Marina Circuit. Schumacher lapped in Friday's first practice session, prior to partaking in the post-event young driver test.

We're at Round 22 of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and the final race of the season. How are you feeling physically and mentally and what are your thoughts going into the closing race of the year?
Guenther Steiner:
"Physically and mentally, I'm feeling good. Everyone's a little bit tired, it's been a long season, a tough season and I'm very happy that it's over. The good thing is that we're looking forward to 2022 - there's some excitement there - it's a completely new car and we should be back where we want to be fighting for points, that's our aim. Everybody is going to do that but we're over the year that we just get by, now we'll try to get in it again like before the pandemic. I hope the team can recover after a hard season and thanks to all of them for doing everything they had to in order to get through the year. It was tough, tough physically because of so many races, and it was tough mentally as we weren't running where we wanted to. Also, thanks to FOM for putting the calendar together because it was another tough year due to the pandemic. Getting all these races in and keeping us in business - growing the sport in difficult circumstances, well it is a great result."

The Yas Marina circuit has undergone comprehensive changes this season - designed to improve overtaking opportunities and overall racing. Do you think the changes will promote closer racing?
GS: "That's what the aim is - the proof is in the pudding. We will find out when we run but the people who have done this know what they're doing and in my opinion it will help, but we'll see when we get there how much it helps. If we achieve two out of the three, I think that's a success."

Once the checkered flag falls on Sunday, and after the end-of-season test, what are your immediate plans? Back to family for the festive period or already thinking about 2022 preparations?
GS: "I am going back to Italy - I will be in Maranello with the team as I haven't been there for a while and for the festive period I will stay at my home in Italy, and then back to the US at the beginning of January. In that period between Christmas and the new year I'll recharge the batteries and then go flat-out again to get ready as good as we can for 2022."

We're at Round 22 of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and the final race of your rookie season. How are you feeling physically and mentally and what are your thoughts going into the closing race of the year?
Nikita Mazrpin: "I'm excited to get to Abu Dhabi - it's going to be a new track and I'm interested to see if the layout will change some things. I don't feel mentally fatigued and I'm ready to continue racing which is a good thing, but for sure the team, engineers and mechanics do need rest."

The Yas Marina circuit has undergone comprehensive changes this season - designed to improve overtaking opportunities and overall racing. Do you think the changes will promote closer racing? You've raced here previously; do you think the changes will promote closer racing? You've raced here previously, do you think the changes will promote closer racing?
NM: "I've only raced at Yas Marina in F2 and F3 and racing was on the good side, overtaking wasn't easy but was still possible. It's going to be a really good track if it makes a step forward because it's a cool venue and if you can see people going up and down the order it will make it exciting for the fans."

Once the checkered flag falls on Sunday, and after the end-of-season test, what are your immediate plans? Back to family for the festive period or already thinking about 2022 preparations?
NM: "My immediate plans are to do the test with the team in the mule car after the race weekend and then I'm going for a three-day test in the desert driving buggies. Then, I need to go back to university to finish up exams before the new year."

We're at Round 22 of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and the final race of your rookie season. How are you feeling physically and mentally and what are your thoughts going into the closing race of the year?
Mick Schumacher: "The year has gone by quicker than I expected it would! It's been a lot - I've learned massive amounts in terms of approach to weekends and how to approach races. I am excited about my last race, I think we're all ready for a break. It's been a long year with lots of insecurities at times as well but overall, we've managed it well. We've got more than expected from the car and I'm happy with that. I think we achieved many good things and many things that we know we can improve for next year."

The Yas Marina circuit has undergone comprehensive changes this season - designed to improve overtaking opportunities and overall racing. Do you think the changes will promote closer racing? You've raced here previously; do you think the changes will promote closer racing? You've raced here previously, do you think the changes will promote closer racing?
MS: "I think we'll have to wait and see until we arrive and do our first free practice. On paper, it's always easy to say there will be an increase in opportunities, but the fact is we always arrive to a track and then find that it's not the case. I'm going to the race with an open mind. Do I hope there are more overtaking opportunities - yes - I think that is something clearly that we would like for here. Hopefully it will also improve our ability to race with other cars."

Once the checkered flag falls on Sunday, and after the end-of-season test, what are your immediate plans? Back to family for the festive period or already thinking about 2022 preparations?
MS: "First of all, we have the test, which is an important one for us, so the focus will be 100 per cent for that. Then, I can let my guard down a bit and enjoy my time off and recharge the batteries as much as I can before going into 2022. When I am in that period of recovery, I will definitely be thinking a lot about next year and will be in constant exchange with the team involved. I want to be involved as much as I can in that period because obviously next year is hopefully an important year for us, where we can make it work where we expect it to. Definitely, our thoughts are on 2022 preparation - I'm really looking forward to it."

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Published: 07/12/2021
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