Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Preview

Preview the final race of the 2015 Formula One season as the curtain falls in the Abu Dhabi desert.

As the sky turns from sunshine to darkness and the lights come on, Formula One’s class of 2015 will be taking to the track for the final time. This season has seen Mercedes dominate once again to wrap up both the drivers and constructors titles well in advance of round 19. But this weekend’s race will see nothing left on the table as drivers bid to finish the campaign on a high. 

Formula One has been travelling to Abu Dhabi since 2009 as the race hit the sport with its first twilight race. Over the six previous races held at the Yas Marina circuit, drama has unfolded from the beginning as Hamilton set the pace in 2009 before his brakes failed and handed victory to Vettel.

Sebastian’s victory in 2009 came too late to hand him the title as Jenson Button had already claimed that in the previous round. But one year on, Vettel had back-to-back victories in Abu Dhabi and his first Formula One World Title. The 2010 result itself came with drama of its own as Webber and Alonso fell down the pack after a poor strategy call cost both a shot at the title.

2011 and 2012 both saw first time winners at the Yas Marina circuit as Hamilton clinched the win in 2011, before Raikkonen saw out the season he returned to Formula One in with a win for Lotus.

Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi

Go back to 2014 and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was a title-deciding race between Mercedes team-mates. Where Hamilton stormed off the line to clinch his second Formula One championship while Rosberg fell back through the pack as his W05 deteriorated the more the race went on.

Last year’s race was also full of farewells as Caterham departed the sport after going into administration. The same fait appeared to be heading towards Marussia as the team failed to return for the final race and only made the 2015 season after a late revival.

Outside the fait of the back markers, Alonso was saying his farewells to Ferrari and Vettel was saying goodbye to Red Bull. Kevin Magnussen was also driving what turned out to be his final race for McLaren as he was benched for the returning Alonso as Vettel settled into Ferrari.

This year however has been very contrasting with the big names staying put in their respective teams and little driver movement coming over the winter. One man who is saying his farewells this weekend though is Romain Grosjean as the Frenchman leaves Lotus for the incoming Haas F1 team.

McLaren will also be wishing farewell to their dreadful season after troubled engines from their engine partner, Honda, has seen the once dominant force sit towards the bottom of the grid for most of the season. Over the winter, Honda can upgrade their unit freely so hopefully 2016 will be a better, if not more reliable, season.

Caterham's F1 farewell @ Abu Dhabi GP 2014 - World Copyright- Sam Bloxham/LAT Photographic.jpg

Romain has been part of the Enstone based Lotus team in some form for the past 10 years and first tasted Formula One with them in 2009 under Renault. His first spell however was poor and he failed to return to the grid in the following year.

After missing out on Formula One in 2010, Grosjean tasted sportscar racing, Auto GP and returned to GP2 where he won the 2011 title for DAMS.

After winning the GP2 title, Grosjean was brought back into the then Lotus-Renault F1 team as a test driver for the final two rounds before being handed the race seat for Lotus in 2012.

Like his initial F1 career, his return was not great and he failed to finish the first two races for Lotus but in round four of the 2012 season, he scored his first Formula One podium in Bahrain.

Over the next four seasons with the team, Romain achieved nine more podiums with his latest one coming at the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix. Grosjean has also racked up a total of 285 points, with 132 of those points coming in 2013 alone.

Romain Grosjean at the 2015 USGP - Copyright: Mike Boudreaux

For the final race of the 2015 season and Grosjean’s final race at Lotus, Formula One will be at the Yas Marina Circuit. The circuit is 5.554km long and is situated on the man-made Yas Island.

Over the five and a half kilometres, the circuit comprises of three sections all boasting different characteristics. The first sector is a mix of high speed corners and short straights, before the middle sectors two long DRS straights. These straights allow cars to reach speeds of up to 320km/h and is where most of the overtaking occurs. Then comes the final sector of the circuit where the track becomes tight and overtaking is nearly impossible.

Yas Marina Circuit - Copyright formula1.com

For this year’s event, Hamilton has the chance to match Vettel’s three wins in Abu Dhabi (2009, 2010, 2013). If Hamilton adds the 2015 race to his wins in 2014 and 2011, Lewis can also overtake Sebastian on laps led around the Yas Marina Circuit with Vettel (134) currently leading Hamilton (126) by eight laps. The nearest challenger to the pair on laps led however is Raikkonen with just 36, meaning even if he leads from lights out to chequered flag the Finn would remain third but on slightly closer 91.

For the 55-lap race on Sunday, Pirelli are providing the soft and supersoft tyres. Last year, the winning strategy was a two-stopper with Hamilton switching from supersofts on lap 10 to softs and softs again on lap 31. Should tyre wear remain the same, pit stops may occur within the first few laps as drivers look for the undercut live on both Sky Sports F1 and the BBC.

Thursday November 26
11:00 – Drivers’ Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
20:45 – Paddock Uncut (Sky Sports F1)
21:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Friday November 27
07:15 – GP2 Practice (Sky Sports F1)
08:45 – Abu Dhabi GP: Practice One (Sky Sports F1)
08:55 – Abu Dhabi GP: Practice One (BBC Two)
11:10 – GP3 Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
12:45 – Abu Dhabi GP: Practice Two (Sky Sports F1)
13:00 – Abu Dhabi GP: Practice Two (BBC Red Button)
16:00 – Abu Dhabi GP: Team Principals’ Press Conference (Sky Sports F1)
15:05 – GP2 Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
17:00 – The F1 Show (Sky Sports F1)
18:45 to 20:00 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)

Saturday November 28
08:20 – GP3 Race 1 (Sky Sports F1)
09:45 – Abu Dhabi GP: Practice Three (Sky Sports F1)
09:55 – Abu Dhabi GP: Practice Three (BBC Two)
12:00 – Abu Dhabi GP: Qualifying (Sky Sports F1)
12:10 – Abu Dhabi GP: Qualifying (BBC One)
14:35 – GP2 Feature Race (Sky Sports F1)
19:45 – Inside F1 (BBC News Channel)

Sunday November 29
08:55 – GP3 Race 2 (Sky Sports F1)
10:15 – GP2 Sprint Race (Sky Sports F1)
11:05 – F1 Rewind: Amazing Races (BBC Two)
11:30 – Abu Dhabi GP: Track Parade (Sky Sports F1)
12:00 – Abu Dhabi GP: Pit Lane (Sky Sports F1)
12.10 – Abu Dhabi GP: Race (BBC One)
12.30 – Abu Dhabi GP: Race (Sky Sports F1)
12:45 – Abu Dhabi GP: Race (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
15-15 – Abu Dhabi GP: Forum (BBC Red Button)
15.30 – Abu Dhabi GP: Paddock Live (Sky Sports F1)