The 2020 Formula One World Championship concludes this weekend with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix taking place at the Yas Marina Circuit.
The Hermann Tilke-designed circuit is one of the newer locations on the calendar, having been opened in 2009, and is known for its air-conditioned pit garages and largest permanent lighting system in the world. Like other races in the Middle East, the Abu Dhabi race starts at twilight and runs into the night.
The track layout stretches 3.45 miles and consists of 21 turns and three distinct sections that each put different demands on the car. The first corner is the start of a flowing sequence of bends, where cars and drivers are subjected to lateral acceleration of up to 4 g and speeds in excess of 155 mph. There are then two very long straights in the middle section and the last sector is tight and twisty and really works the tires.
The track provides few overtaking opportunities, most of them in the area of the chicane at turns 8 and 9, with countermoves possible at the exit, crossing the racing line and at the exit to turn 11 where excessive late braking can result in a trip through a very dusty run-off area.
Yas Marina Circuit, home of the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Pirelli has nominated its softest compounds for the weekend, the C3, C4 and C5. Since the race starts as the sun is setting, track temperatures cool dramatically as the race goes on and as a result teams need to be wary of the changing conditions.
Mercedes-Benz AMG’s Lewis Hamilton is racing this weekend after missing last weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix in Bahrain due to Covid-19 coronavirus isolation measures. Williams’ George Russell, who filled in for Hamilton at Mercedes in the Bahrain race, returns to his own team in Abu Dhabi.
In an early practice session on Friday, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen was the fastest, followed by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Renault’s Esteban Ocon.
Going into Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s race, Hamilton, who has already won the 2020 title, leads the Drivers’ Championship with 332 points. Bottas is second with 205 points and Verstappen is third with 189 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes leads with 540 points versus the 282 of Red Bull and 194 of McLaren. Last year’s winner in Abu Dhabi was Hamilton driving for Mercedes.