Abu Dhabi Yas Marina Circuit -Statistics
Track Length: 5.554 km
DRS Zones: First between turns 7 and 8 and the second between turn 10 and 11.
Lap Record: Sebastian Vettel 1.40.279 in 2009
2013 pole: Sebastian Vettel 1:39.957
Wins: 2009- Sebastian Vettel Red Bull, 2010, Sebastian Vettel Red Bull, 2011 Lewis Hamilton McLaren, 2012 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus, 2013 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull
Poles: 2009 Hamilton, 2010 Vettel, 2011 Vettel, 2012 Hamilton, 2013 Webber
As we head into the final showdown of this tantalisingly close Formula One season double points will be awarded at a circuit that has seen many close races and one very memorable championship decider in 2010.
The good news for Lewis Hamilton fans is that he has gained two pole positions out of five of the races held at the circuit, in 2009 and 2012, illustrating that he both enjoys and thrives at this circuit. However, he has also been plagued by retirements, most notably losing him a certain victory in 2012 when he was dominating in a McLaren before suffering from engine failure.
After winning in Brazil last week and reducing the point deficit to just seventeen points Nico Rosberg is benefitting from a momentum change and the new rules of double point; if the system was not in place then Hamilton would only need fifth, the very same position as in 2008 when he clinched the title in dramatic fashion on the final corner of the final lap.
Also brakes are deemed to be an issue around this circuit and management of brakes has largely been in Nico Rosberg’s favour this season. A mechanical failure for either of the drivers would be disappointing considering the close and largely clean battle they have engaged in all season, and the fans and the team are relishing the fair and close fight so far.
In Thursday’s drivers press conference Nico Rosberg made a point of saying that it was up to Lewis for the race to be a clean fight and that he had to ensure that he drove well and fairly for it to be so; a point of irony considering most of the controversial moments between the drivers this season, such as Monaco and most notably Spa, have focused on scrutiny of Rosberg’s driving and tactics not Hamilton’s.
The circuit is well accustomed to close title fights with arguably one of the most exciting title deciders in 2010 when a four man battle between Sebastian Vettel Fernando Alonso Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton went in Vettel’s favour after both Fernando Alonso and Webber suffered with poor pit stop strategy and ended up stuck in traffic and out of title contention.
Traffic could be an issue on Sunday as this famously difficult overtaking circuit will favour whoever starts on pole position, so Hamilton will be hoping to avoid some of the qualifying errors and misfortunes he has suffered from this season.
The race will be the final race for Fernando Alonso at Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull as the German joins the Italian team for 2015 and Alonso is expected to re-join the Woking based McLaren team that he parted so acrimoniously from in 2007. McLaren have stated that they will not announce their driver line up until December leaving fans concerned that 2009 World Champion Jenson Button will not receive the proper send off from his 266 race long Formula One career that he deserves.
Since it augural grand prix in 2009 Abu Dhabi has been a firm favourite on the F1 calendar hosting the first twilight race providing a unique challenge for the drivers as the race spans from day to night and the dramatically light circuit comes to life.
Often described as a processional race the circuit still proves highly challenging for the drivers as they flirt with the barriers and one of the tightest pit lane exits on the calendar.
Pirelli have decided to bring the soft and super soft compound of tyres to the race due to the relatively low speed nature of the circuit and the expected low temperatures due to the night time running: so tyre preservation should not be the pressing issue it was two weeks ago in Brazil.
Caterham have secured enough funding to return for the last race of the season with Britain’s Will Steven’s joining Kamui Kobayashi to race in his first grand prix after Marcus Ericsson announced his decision to join Sauber after the last race in Brazil.
The double points are not only important for the two leading protagonists but for other drivers and teams down the field, with a three way battle between Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas for fourth place in the championship, all separated by only three points.
Williams will also be looking to stay ahead of Ferrari in the constructors and McLaren attempt to overhaul the fifty point deficit to Ferrari for fourth.
Overall this season finale looks set to be a classic and as the sun goes down in Abu Dhabi and the 2014 season who will be crowned the victor amongst the Silver Arrows?