The longest season in Formula One history concludes this weekend at the newly-configured Yas Marina Circuit for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where either Max Verstappen or Lewis Hamilton will be crowned the 2021 World Drivers’ Champion.
For the final round of the twenty-two race long season, Pirelli have opted to bring the softest range from their allocation, the C3, C4 and C5 compounds. It’s the same range used at the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which was won by Max Verstappen, a similar feat this weekend would crown the Dutchman as champion.
As mentioned though the track has been given a new-layout for this weekend, with lap times expected to be ten-fifteen seconds faster. The modifications are endless, the chicane at what used to be Turns 5-6 into the hairpin, is now a straight which goes into a wider hairpin, meaning drivers can carry more speed into the corner.
The chicane at Turns 11-14 have also been replaced for this weekend, with a new banked left-hand corner. Finally the last four corners, Turns 17-20, have all been opened up to allow the drivers to attack them, something which should look spectacular in Qualifying. The changes made should make for more overtaking but we will only found out for certain on Sunday.
All the changes to the track design has in fact made the circuit slightly shorter, therefore the number of laps in the race has been raised from fifty-five, to fifty-eight. Verstappen won last year on a one-stop strategy from medium to hard, a similar strategy should be expected this weekend.
Mario Isola Head of F1 and Car Racing at Pirelli, is excited to see the final chapter of this unbelievable season, where we should see plenty of overtaking.
“The Yas Marina circuit is a familiar venue for the final race of the year, but the modifications to the track will provide a new twist and promises to give us an exciting conclusion to what has been a thrilling season. This will be the first time we face the new configuration, including some areas with new asphalt, but we have been able to rely on simulations and other information in advance to prepare.
“In general, with the creation of some quicker turns, the track is now faster and with more overtaking opportunities. The result of these changes are bigger vertical loads, especially on the front tyres. But we don’t expect the overall severity for the tyres to change significantly, which is why we’ve nominated the softest tyres in the range.
“After the race, the teams will have the chance to test with the final specification of 18-inch tyres for 2022 using mule cars. The first time we’ll see the definitive package of new tyres with 2022 cars in action will be during pre-season testing next year at the end of February.”