PREVIEW: 2017 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Goodbye 2017, Halo 2018


Credit: Daimler AG

And so another Formula 1 season comes to an end. Another title decided has been decided. We face the prospect of yet another long, cold, F1-less winter. But not before one final race. It’s time for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Track

The final race of the season takes place at the Yas Marina Circuit – a twenty-one turn, 3.45 mile track designed by Herman Tilke and set in the glitz and glamour of Abu Dhabi. It’s a mixture of long straights and tight corners, with different sectors favouring different cars. This can make for a slightly more even playing field, and has thrown up some shock results in the past (Vitaly Petrov keeping his Lotus in front of Fernando Alonso‘s Ferrari in 2010 for one.)

For all its glamour, it’s a somewhat controversial track. Its mixture of fast and slow has earned it a reputation for being difficult to set up for, whilst its pit exit (which runs underneath the track) was branded difficult and dangerous by Giancarlo FisichellaKimi Raikkonen, never one to hold back, said, “the first turns are quite good, but the rest of it is sh*t.

A Race of Finals

This weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix marks three important milestones; the final race in the first season of Liberty Media’s ownership, the final race of the first season with higher-downforce cars, and the final race without a Halo safety device.

Yes, you’ll have to make the most of being able to see your favourite driver in the cockpit, as after this race the Halo gets introduced. Blocking the drivers from debris, as well from view, means that this Abu Dhabi Grand Prix isn’t just the end of the season; it’s the end of an era.

Still, there are worse places to see off the non-halo cars than the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The race starts in the day and ends in the night, meaning many drivers race with clear visors; giving us all one final chance to see the concentration, focus, and determination in each driver’s eyes as they streak down the Yas Marina circuit’s 200mph straights with the floodlights reflecting on their helmets.

Credit: Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Will It Be Good?

Whilst the title is decided, practically everyone else could still make up (or lose) positions in the table. Valtteri Bottas could still take second, whilst a strong race for Kimi Raikkonen could see him topple Daniel Ricciardo for fourth.

There’s also the Constrctors to think about. Just six points separate Scuderia Toro RossoRenault Sport Formula 1 Team and Haas F1 Team, whilst it’s still technically possible for Sauber F1 Team to overtake McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team for ninth place.

Everyone will be out for maximum points, with nothing to lose and overtaking opportunities at the end of the long straights. If ever there was a race with potential, this is it.

Where Can I Watch It?

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is on live on both Channel 4 and Sky Sports F1, with both qualifying and racing starting at 1pm.