This year’s Formula 1 world championship comes to a close in Abu Dhabi this weekend, with the drivers’ title set to be decided at the final race between the two Mercedes drivers, Nico Rosberg, who is 12 points in the lead, and his teammate, Lewis Hamilton.
The Yas Marina circuit has a very smooth track surface with a wide variety of corners and speeds, as well as warm weather that is consistent all year round, which makes it a favoured venue for testing. Because the circuit is quite varied, teams tend to run a medium downforce compromise set-up.
The smooth surface generally leads to quite low levels of tyre wear and degradation and overtaking tends to be quite tricky, so strategy can help boost track position
The grand prix starts in the late afternoon at 5pm and ends in the evening, which means that track temperatures tend to vary from start to finish, sometimes dropping off dramatically.
Traction is a key aspect of tyre behaviour in Abu Dhabi, with all the acceleration out of corners. Like Brazil, Yas Marina is an anti-clockwise lap, which is not typical of the rest of the season.
Last year saw Nico Rosberg win with a two-stop strategy for Mercedes.
“Abu Dhabi is one of the circuits we know best, having completed a number of tests there previously, including some of the recent 2017 wider tyre tests that we have been carrying out since August,” said Pirelli team boss Paul Hembery. “The new element to this year’s race is obviously the ultrasoft tyre, which should provide some extra speed on a circuit that forms a good all-round test for the tyres.”
“In fact, all the compounds nominated for this year are very well suited to Abu Dhabi, opening up a number of different possibilities when it comes to strategy. Although the attention is on the finish of the 2016 season, we’re already looking forward to 2017, with a presentation to media before the start of the grand prix, then the first test with all three mule cars on track together with 2017 tyres, on the Tuesday after the race.”
Abu Dhabi will also be the final grand prix for the current generation of cars, before the new 2017 rules come in that should increase lap speeds by five seconds compared to 2015.