Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Preview

It’s the final round of the 2014 Formula One season, with both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg still able to take the title under the Abu Dhabi night sky.

Formula One has travelled east to Abu Dhabi since 2009 and in that time it has sparkled under the night sky five times. What makes the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix so special is that the race begins under sun light but transitions through the race to finish under the stars.

Back in 2010, the biggest star that was shinning was Sebastian Vettel as the German clinched his very first drivers title, something Nico Rosberg will be hoping to do come Sunday. Seb had won the inaugural race in 2009, however Jenson Button had clinched his own drivers championship during the previous race in Brazil for BrawnGP.

Then in 2010, the battle for the championship came down to three men. One of which was Vettel, the others were his then Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. Unfortunately for Fernando there would be no third title in 2010 and unfortunately for Mark he also would not win the title after strategy errors caused the two to drop down the running and finish in seventh for Alonso and eight for Webber whilst Seb won the race to become the youngest ever Formula One drivers title winner at the age of 23 years, 134 days.

Sebastian Vettel during the 2013 Abu Dhabi GP by Paolo Rosa

Sebastian Vettel during the 2013 Abu Dhabi GP by Paolo Rosa

Come Sunday another title will be clinched on Yas Island, on the east coast of Abu Dhabi but will it be Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg? Both Mercedes men have a mathematical chance of winning the title. But with Lewis carrying a 17-point lead into the final round, Nico’s chances of winning are much slimmer than his British team-mate’s.

For Nico to win the title, he may need to pray on some bad luck for his team-mate. Like Lewis suffered in Australia when he DNF’ed the first race of the year, in Canada when he was forced to retire with brake issues or in qualifying for both the  German and Hungarian Grand Prix’s.

On the other hand, Nico himself has also been the victim of bad luck when it comes to reliability, maybe not as much but a problem could emerge at any moment for the German like it did at the Singapore Grand Prix weekend.

In the race on Sunday, Williams may be able to play a part in deciding the 2014 Formula One drivers championship winner. Given the pace the Williams duo of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas have shown over the season thanks to their Mercedes PU106A hybrid engine, either Massa or Bottas could challenge the works Mercedes team during the Abu Dhabi GP given the circuits long straights, prefect for high speeds.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend also marks the return to the grid for the Caterham team after administrators raised enough money through their crowd funding scheme in order to make a racing return after missing out on the United States Grand Prix and the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Yas Marina Circuit track guide - from Formula1.com

Yas Marina Circuit track guide – from Formula1.com

For this years title showdown and Caterham’s return, the Yas Marina Circuit will play home to the now 20 car strong Formula One grid. Designed by Hermann Tilke, the circuit stretches for 5.554 km and consists of nine right turns and eleven left turns. The Yas Marina Circuit is also one of the few anti-clockwise tracks on the Formula One calendar.

When the track gets going, drivers face a hard left first corner before making their way towards turn two. Now drivers began to gently swing their cars around the right hand bend of turn three and into turn four, whilst drivers may also be exiting the pit lane here. Which itself is unique given the pit lane is on the outside of turn 1 so drivers exit via a tunnel under the corner before rejoining the track at turn 3.

The start of the second sector is marked with a heavy breaking zone for a tight chicane. If thinking aggressively, a driver may be able to send their car down the inside of their opponent but if they leave it too late they may lose more than they could have gained.

Therefore it is generally better to stay behind the car ahead through the chicane and around the turn seven hairpin as this will grant you DRS along the longest straight on the F1 calendar. At the end of that straight comes another very hard breaking zone as drivers need to slow down and flick their cars backwards for the turn 8/9 chicane before entering onto the second longest straight of the circuit, which comes with another DRS zone.

The final sector of the track is far tighter than the rest after being designed to resemble a street circuit layout. For overtaking in this sector, turn 11 at the end of the straight is your best bet as through the fast turn 15/16 complex it would be difficult to make the overtake stick.

Then comes turn 18 and 19. These two left-handed corners mark another unique aspect of the Yas Marina circuit as drivers briefly venture under the 5 star Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi hotel which stands across the track. Once the sun has set, this part of the track could be described as the more beautiful to look at as the hotel’s outer shell changes colour.

Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi at Sunset by Nick Webb

Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi at Sunset by Nick Webb

If you plan on watching the climax to the 2014 Formula One season live on TV in England, it will be accessible to you live via SkySportsF1 and the BBC.

For SkySportsF1 their coverage of the weekend is as follows:

Thursday 20th November
11:00 – Drivers’ Press Conference – Live
20:45 – Gear Up for Abu Dhabi
21:00 – F1 Title Deciders – Abu Dhabi 2010

Friday 21st November
07:15 – GP2 Practice – Live
08:45 – Abu Dhabi GP Practice One – Live
11:00 – GP3 Qualifying – Live
12:45 – Abu Dhabi GP Practice Two – Live
14:55 – GP2 Qualifying – Live
16:00 – Team Principals’ Press Conference – Live
17:00 – The F1 Show – Live
18:00 – F1 Title Deciders – USA 1982

Saturday 22nd November
08:00 – GP3 Race 1 – Live
09:45 – Abu Dhabi GP Practice Three – Live
12:00 – Abu Dhabi GP Qualifying – Live
14:35 – GP2 Feature Race – Live
20:10 – Ted’s Qualifying Notebook

Sunday 23rd November
08:55 – GP3 Race 2 – Live
10:15 – GP2 Sprint race – Live
11:30 – 2014 Abu Dhabi GP – Track Parade – Live
12:00 – 2014 Abu Dhabi GP – Race – Live
15:30 – 2014 Abu Dhabi GP – Paddock Live
17:45 – 2014 Abu Dhabi GP – Highlights
18:45 – Ted’s Race Notebook

As for the BBC, their coverage of the weekend is as follows:

Friday 21st November
08:55 – Abu Dhabi GP Practice One – Live – BBC Two and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
13:00 – Abu Dhabi GP Practice Two – Live – BBC Two and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

Saturday 22nd November
09:55 – Abu Dhabi GP Practice Three – Live – BBC Two and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
12:10 – Abu Dhabi GP Qualifying – Live – BBC1
13:00 – Abu Dhabi GP Qualifying – Live – BBC Radio 5 live sports extra

Sunday 23rd November
12:10 – 2014 Abu Dhabi GP – Race – Live – BBC1
12:45 – 2014 Abu Dhabi GP – Race – Live – BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
19:00 – 2014 Abu Dhabi GP – Highlights – BBC3