PREVIEW: 2019 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit

by Sudha Sundararaj

The Formula 1 circus has pitched its tents at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi this weekend for the twenty-first and final race of the 2019 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

The eleventh running of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will unfold in the glamorous and luxurious Yas Marina Island. The Hermann Tilke-designed Yas Marina circuit was first added to the Formula 1 calendar in 2009. The inaugural race was won by Sebastian Vettel for Red Bull Racing.

The venue attracts celebrities from around the world and has become the setting for the final race of the season since 2014. This is a unique race being the only day/night race on the Formula 1 calendar. It starts in the evening in the dusk and ends under floodlights in the night.

What happened at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix?

Max Verstappen won a wild and eventful 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix from pole position. This was Verstappen’s third win of the season.

Pierre Gasly scored the first podium of his Formula 1 career to redeem himself after his demotion to Toro Rosso during the season.

The penalty incurred by Lewis Hamilton post-race for his clash with Alexander Albon in the final laps dropped him to seventh-place from third position. This promoted Carlos Sainz to third position giving the Spaniard his first career podium after he started in last place.

The whole race turned on its head during the Safety Car period when Valtteri Bottas’s engine blew up on lap 52. Verstappen pitted during the Safety Car period even as Hamilton stayed out.

On lap 66 with five laps to go, the Ferrari drivers, Vettel and Charles Leclerc, dramatically crashed into each other endimg their races. The Safety Car period saw Hamilton pit and rejoin in fourth position.

After Hamilton overtook Gasly, his bid to take second position from Albon led to him tagging the Anglo-Thai driver that ended his dreams of securing his first ever podium.

Gasly passed the duo to take second position. Hamilton finished in third position, but the post-race penalty dropped him to seventh position.

The Alfa Romeo drivers, Kimi Räikkönen and Alberto Giovinazzi, were promoted to fourth and fifth positions respectively. Daniel Ricciardo finished in sixth position for the Renault F1 team.

Hamilton was demoted to seventh position. Lando Norris, Sergio Pérez and Daniil Kvyat completed the top 10 positions.

What happened at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?

Lewis Hamilton secured a comfortable win at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to put the cherry on the top of a championship winning 2018 Formula 1 season. Hamilton recorded his 73rd career win and his eleventh win of the 2018 season at the season finale.

Vettel finished second behind his title-rival. Verstappen completed the podium places, his first podium finish at the Yas Marina circuit.

Ricciardo finished in fourth position in his last race for Red Bull Racing. Bottas finished a disappointing fifth to end a winless season.

Sainz finished in sixth position and “best of the rest” in his final race for Renault before his move to McLaren for 2019. Leclerc finished in an impressive seventh position for Sauber.

Pérez, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen rounded off the top 10 positions.

The Circuit

The state-of-the-art Yas Marina circuit is a 5.554 km anti-clockwise circuit that winds its way around the Yas marina and underneath the Yas Hotel. This circuit with 21 corners (12 left-hand and 9 right-hand corners) and two long straights has an average speed of 195 km/h.

The circuit has tight medium to slow speed corners and hairpins and the track demands a medium to high downforce setup. The cars are on full throttle 60% of the time and the fuel consumption is high.

The brake-wear is high with medium loads placed on engines. The track surface offers low grip and is reasonably dusty with minute dust particles present on the track which forces the teams to use air filters to protect the engines.

Credit: Pirelli Media

Sectors, Corners, and DRS Zones

Sector 1 (Turn 1 to Turn 4) is dominated by high speed turns that ends in a short straight.

Sector 2 (Turn 5 to Turn 11) starts with a chicane that leads to the hairpin at Turn 7. This sector features two long straights punctuated by heavy braking zones leading to slow-speed corners.

Sector 3 (Turn 11 to Turn 21) includes medium and slow speed corners and is highly technical. The circuit demands a set-up requiring good traction and high downforce in this sector and mimics the circuit at Monaco around the perimeter of the harbour.

There are two DRS zones this year. The first DRS detection point is before Turn 7 with the first DRS activation point after Turn 7. The second DRS detection point is after Turn 9 with the DRS activation point at the apex of Turn 10.

Yas Marina circuit has three very different sectors. The track offers few overtaking opportunities, sadly illustrated when Fernando Alonso was stuck behind the slower Vitaly Petrov in 2010 and lost a world championship.

Tyre Strategy

The white-striped hard tyres (C3), the yellow-striped medium tyres (C4) and the red-striped soft tyres (C5) nominated for this race is from the softest range of compounds of the Pirelli tyres.

The drivers have chosen eight or more sets of the soft compound tyres (C5) in the thirteen sets allocated to them. Mercedes and Ferrari drivers have chosen eight sets of the soft compound tyres. The Red Bull Racing drivers have chosen nine sets of the soft compound tyres.

The races at this circuit have traditionally been a one-stop race with the smooth asphalt surface causing very low degradation and tyre wear.

Credit: Pirelli Media

What should we look out for this year?

Mercedes has clinched their sixth consecutive constructors’ and drivers’ championship in the hybrid-engine era. With the title races over, there are still interesting fights for the minor places among the teams and drivers.

The midfield team battles for positions will continue and will be of interest at this final race. The position in which teams finish determines the money that will accrue to them at the end of the season and hence important to the smaller teams.

The Renault and Toro Rosso teams are separated by just eight points in their fight for fifth position. The Racing Point and Alfa Romeo Racing teams are separated by ten points in their fight for seventh position.

In the drivers’ championship, the battle for third position will continue between Verstappen and Leclerc. The bragging rights for finishing ‘best of the rest’ will continue between Albon, Sainz and Gasly.

Hamilton (387 points) has now won the drivers’ championship from team-mate Bottas (314 pts). Verstappen (260 points) is in third position with a eleven-point lead over Leclerc (249 points). Vettel (230 points) is in fifth position and rounds off the top 5 positions in the drivers’ championship.

Mercedes (701 points) has won the constructors’ championship. Ferrari (479 points) has sealed second position now. Red Bull Racing (391 points) will finish in third position. McLaren (140 points) has retained its fourth position. Renault (91 points) is in fifth position in the constructors’ championship.

What’s the schedule?

Friday 29 November

09:00 GMT / 13:00 Local Time – Free Practice One
13:00 GMT / 17:00 Local Time – Free Practice Two

Saturday 30 November

10:00 GMT / 14:00 Local Time – Free Practice Three
13:00 GMT / 17:00 Local Time – Qualifying

Sunday 1 December

13:10 GMT / 17:10 Local Time – Race

How can I keep up with the action?

Follow all the action at the Checkered Flag with our extensive coverage, quotes and analysis of every session of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Related articles

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More