Preview: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Round 18 at Yas Marina Circuit

Etihad grid girls.  Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday 12 November 2011.  BEST IMAGE

Oct.31 (FIA & Reuters) Abu Dhabi hosts the 18th round of the 2012 Formula One World Championship with teams making the short trip from India to the Yas Marina Circuit. F1’s only day/night race has been a great success in its three previous runnings, with the organisers entertaining the crowd with a good selection of support races and other attractions, including Aussie V8 championship races.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/26. Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday 11 November 2011.Inside the F1 paddock, the Yas Marina Circuit has developed a good reputation – both for its compact arrangement and convivial atmosphere but also with the quality of its garage and circuit facilities, which have been instrumental in it becoming a venue for the young drivers’ test which will take place in the days following the grand prix.

YMC has three very different sectors. High-speed turns dominate the start of the lap, down to the chicane and hairpin at Turn Seven. After that, the middle part of the lap has two very long straights separated by a heavy braking zone into a slow-speed chicane. The end of the lap around the harbour has been deliberately designed to mimic Monaco, and like that circuit is mostly slow speed and highly technical.

Fans enjoy qualifying. Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday 31 October 2009.YMC demands a little bit of everything in terms of set-up. The second-longest straight in F1 demands good top speed; it features heavy braking and a varied selection of cornering speeds requiring good traction and high downforce. It suggests a wider array of set-up options, though compared to the last three races it does not place such a premium on high-speed cornering ability.

Famously the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix saw Sebastian Vettel crowned after a tense season finale into which he went lying third in a championship, 15 points behind Fernando Alonso and seven behind Mark Webber.

The finishing order in India last week ensured that the drivers’ championship cannot be finalized at Yas this year – but Red Bull go into the race with a good chance of taking the constructors’ championship.

Yas Marina Circuit Data

  • Length of lap: 5.554km
  • Lap record: 1:40.279 (Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing, 2009)
  • Start line/finish line offset: 0.115km
  • Total number of race laps: 55
  • Total race distance: 305.355km
  • Pitlane speed limits: 60km/h during practice and qualifying, 100km/h during the race
  • Changes to the circuit since 2011: Higher kerbs, similar to those on the apex of turns eight and nine, have been installed on the apexes of turns five, six, 12, 13, 14, 18 and 19.

Abu Dhabi GP Fast Facts

  • ASebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB7. Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday 12 November 2011.bu Dhabi is unique on the F1 calendar being a (scheduled) twilight race. Beyond the aesthetic impact of a race which starts in sunshine and finishes under artificial light, the primary effect on racing is that track temperatures typically fall as the race progresses – which presents an unusual variable for tyre strategists to consider.
  • When the lights are turned on, Yas Marina becomes the largest lit permanent sports venue in the world. Unlike some other sports where lighting will be switched on as required during a day/night event, for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the lights are on from the start of the later sessions to ensure a consistent level of illumination for the drivers.
  • Unique among F1 circuits, Yas Marina features a run-off area that extends under a permanent spectator viewing area. Cars approaching Turn Eight brake from above 300 km/h down to less than 100 km/h and for those that don’t managed this successfully, the escape road extends out under the West Grandstand.
  • The Yas Viceroy hotel, under which the track passes, is very difficult to miss. Its distinctive illumination is the product of 5,389 pivoting LED panels.
  • Sebastian Vettel’s victory in India last week was his fourth in succession. He previously managed that feat between the Brazilian Grand Prix of 2010 and the Malaysian Grand Prix of 2011. Of the current field, Jenson Button won four in a row between the Bahrainian and Turkish Grands Prix of 2009. Fernando Alonso managed four straight wins in 2006 and Michael Schumacher had a run of seven (and another of five) in 2004, six across 2000/1 and four in 2002 and 1994. Discounting the Indy500, Alberto Ascari managed nine straight wins across 1952/3.
  • Vettel has now led grands prix for 205 consecutive laps, taking the lead of the Singapore Grand Prix on lap 23 and leading from the end of lap one to the chequered flag in Japan, Korea and India. He is exactly 100 laps behind Ascari’s all-time record.
  • Fourth and fifth in India saw McLaren score points for the 55th consecutive race, equalling the record held by Ferrari. McLaren’s run started at the 2010 Australian Grand Prix. A top-ten finish at Yas Marina will see it set a new benchmark.
  • Renault recorded their 150th victory as an engine supplier, in India. They have 35 victories in the back of Renault’s own cars; 64 with Williams; 12 with Benetton; 5 with Lotus and now 34 with Red Bull.
  • Red Bull can win the Formula One Constructors’ Championship this weekend. They currently lead Ferrari by 91 points and McLaren by 101. They need to leave Abu Dhabi with a lead of 86 points (or 87 points if McLaren wins the race) to be confirmed as champions. Of the many permutations possible, the minimum result Red Bull need to be guaranteed the championship is first/eighth or second/third.

Stats & Facts by Reuters

  • Sebastian Vettel Red Bull during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 1, 2009 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.Vettel has won the last four races and five in total so far this season. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton have both won three. Red Bull’s Mark Webber and McLaren’s Jenson Button have won twice.
  • The championship started with an unprecedented run of seven different winners in the first seven races (Button/Alonso/Nico Rosberg/Vettel/Pastor Maldonado/Webber/Hamilton).
  • Ferrari have won 219 races since the championship started in 1950, McLaren 180, Williams 114 and Red Bull 34.
  • One more win for Red Bull would put them level with Brabham and Renault in the all-time lists.
  • Seven-time champion Michael Schumacher holds the record for driver victories with 91. Alonso has 30, Vettel 26, Hamilton 20, Kimi Raikkonen 18.
  • One more win would lift Alonso level with Britain’s 1992 champion Nigel Mansell as fourth equal in the all-time list. One more win for Vettel would put him level with Britain’s triple champion Jackie Stewart.
  • Raikkonen’s last win was in Belgium with Ferrari in 2009. Schumacher’s last win was in China with Ferrari in 2006.
  • Vettel has never before won five in a row. The last driver to do such a sequence was fellow-German Michael Schumacher with Ferrari in 2004, when he won seven successive races.
  • Red Bull can win the constructors’ title on Sunday if they score more points than Ferrari and McLaren. That would make them only the fourth team to win three titles in a row. The others are Ferrari, Williams and McLaren.
  • Red Bull is currently 91 points clear of Ferrari and 101 ahead of McLaren. After Sunday there will be only two races remaining for a maximum total of 86 points.
  • Vettel took 15 pole positions in 2011, the most anyone has achieved in a single season, but has been on pole only five times this year. Red Bull took a record 18 poles last year.
  • Vettel has 35 poles to his credit. Only Schumacher (68) and the late Ayrton Senna (65) have managed more. Hamilton has 24 and Alonso 22.
  • Ten of 17 races this year have been won from pole.
  • Caterham (formerly Team Lotus and Lotus Racing), Marussia (Previously Virgin Racing) and HRT have yet to score a point in nearly three seasons of competing.
  • McLaren have chalked up 55 consecutive races with at least one car in the points, equalling a record held by Ferrari.
  • Raikkonen has finished his last 14 races in the points, the best scoring run of his career.
  • Eleven different drivers have set the fastest race laps in 17 grands prix so far.
  • Vettel (2009 and 2010) and Hamilton (2011) are the only drivers to have won in Abu Dhabi. They are also the only ones to have started on pole position and the only ones to have qualified on the front row.
  • Button has been third three years in a row.
  • Only one of the three Abu Dhabi GPs so far was won from pole position.
  • Vettel won the 2010 title in Abu Dhabi, becoming the youngest Formula One champion.
  • Pirelli are bringing their medium (white sidewall) and soft (yellow) tyres to Abu Dhabi. This is the last time the soft tyre will be used this year. The race is the only day-to-night grand prix on the calendar, with track temperatures falling as the event progresses. The harbourside circuit has three distinct sectors and more of a Monaco level of downforce, with a low speed section between turns 11 and 21.
  • Vettel’s win in India on Sunday marked the first time in his career that he has won four races in a row in a single season. He has also now led 205 consecutive laps, since lap 23 in Singapore.
  • Button’s fastest lap in India was McLaren’s 150th.
  • Renault celebrated their 150th win as an engine supplier.

Race Stewards Biographies

  • Swede Lars Österlind is a highly experienced FIA steward, who has officiated at more than 100 grands prix and a similar number of FIA World Rally Championship rounds. A social sciences graduate and lifelong motor sport enthusiast, Österlind was President of the Swedish Rally Commission from 1978-1982, then President of the Swedish Automobile Sport Federation from 1982-1996. He became honorary president in 1996 and has been a member of the FIA World Council since 1984. Outside motor sport Österlind has specialised in management, working as a management consultant and pursuing his own business interests. He is also experienced in local government at city council level.
  • Radovan Novak has been actively involved in motorsport since 1963 and rose to become Secretary General of the ACCR in 1990. Since 1991 he has held the role of President of the FIA Central Europe Zone and over the past two decades he has acted as a steward and observer in WRC and ERC rallies, EC autocross and rallycross events and WTCC and GT races. He has been a Formula One steward since 1994. From 1994 to 2006, he was a member of the FIA Off-road Commission and was made a member of the World Motor Sport Council in 1998. In 2000 he became a member of the Sport Commission at the Ministry of Sport of the Czech Republic. An avid racer and co-driver, Radovan Novak has won a number of Czech rallying events.
  • Derek Warwick makes his second appearance in four races, having been FIA driver steward in Japan. Warwick raced in 146 grands prix, from 1981 to 1993, for Toleman, Renault, Brabham, Arrows and Lotus. He scored 71 points and achieved four podium finishes, with two fastest laps. He was World Sportscar Champion in 1992, driving for Peugeot. He also won Le Mans in the same year. Warwick raced Jaguar sportscars in 1986 and 1991. Warwick competed in the British Touring Car Championship in 1995, 1997 and 1998, as well as making one more appearance at the Le Mans in 1996, driving for the Courage Competition team.

Subbed by AJN.