Formula 1 2018 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Preview

November 22nd, 2018 | Category: Uncategorised

Written by SFCMelbourne member, Michele Terminello


The Yas Marina Circuit is a permanent racing circuit located on the stunning Yas Island, 30 minutes away from the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi. The circuit was designed by German designer Hermann Tilke. It is the second purposely built circuit for Formula One in the Middle East with the first being in Bahrain.


The circuit twists through Yas Island off the Abu Dhabi coastline passing by the marina and through the iconic five-star, 499 room Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel designed by New York -based architects Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture of Asymptote Architecture, and winds its way through sand dunes, with several long straights and tight corners. The uniquely scenic waterfront marina-based development includes water and theme parks as well as residential areas, hotels and beaches.


The track has five grandstand areas (Main Grandstand, West Grandstand, North Grandstand, South Grandstand and Marina Grandstand (aka Support)) and part of the pit lane exit runs underneath the circuit. It also features a team building behind the pits, Media Centre, Dragster Track, VIP Tower and the Ferrari World Theme Park. The circuit also features a powerful lighting system which ensures the transition from day to night racing action.


The cars hit top speeds of 320 kph and average speeds of 195 kph. As well as the waterside marina area, there are high-speed sections (including the longest straight on the F1 calendar), tight corners for overtaking, and sector three which resembles part of a twisty-style street circuit. Overall, its diverse elements come together to create one of the most demanding and longest circuits in the world.


The Yas Marina Circuit is 5.554km (3.451 miles) in length with 21 corners and runs in an anti-clockwise direction.


Race distance is 305.355km (189.739 miles) in length with 55 laps in total.


Sebastian Vettel holds the fastest lap record at the Yas Marina Circuit with a 1:40.279 set in 2009 in his Red Bull Racing Renault RB5.


Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel both hold the record for most Abu Dhabi Grand Prix victories with three each respectively.


Mercedes are the most successful constructors at the Yas Marina Circuit with four victories.


The Last Five Winners


2017: Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1. 2016: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1. 2015: Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1. 2014: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1. 2013: Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing.





Pirelli will be bringing to the Yas Marina Circuit, the softest tyres in its range, the pink side-walled Hypersofts, the purple-branded P-Zero Ultrasoft compounds and the red-marked P-Zero Supersoft tyres along with the green-branded Intermediate and blue-marked Full Wet tyre compounds in case of rain.


Ferrari have gone with a slightly more conservative approach compared to it’s rivals, selecting three sets of supersofts – one more than Mercedes and Red Bull’s drivers respectively – and has also chosen two sets of the ultras and eight of the hypers.


Mercedes and Red Bull have also opted for eight sets of the hypersoft compounds with both teams going for two sets of the supers and three of the ultras.


Fourth-placed Constructor Renault, who has struggled at times during their 2018 campaign with tyre wear issues – particularly in Austria, have gone with the most conservative approach in the field.


Nico Hulkenberg has five sets of the ultrasoft compounds available – more than any other driver in the field whilst team-mate Carlos Sainz has selected four of the purple side-walled rubber.


The duo will have seven sets of hypersofts, the least of any team at this weekend’s season finale.


Hulkenberg will only have one set of supersofts, along with Williams’ Lance Stroll, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, Haas F1 Team’s Kevin Magnussen and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.


Brendon Hartley and Sergey Sirotkin will also both have 10 sets of hypersofts like their respective team-mates but have chosen two sets of supers and just one set of ultras.


DRS Zones


As in 2017, there will be two DRS Zones at the Yas Marina Circuit. The first detection point will be 40 metres after turn seven with the first activation zone 390 metres after turn seven. The second detection point will be 50 metres after turn nine with the second activation zone at turn 10.


Pitlane Speeds


Pitlane speed limits will be 80km/h during practice, qualifying and the race.


ICYMI: Brazilian GP Rewind – Hamilton wins thriller, Mercedes secure fifth consecutive constructors title


Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton won an entertaining Brazilian Grand Prix as Mercedes wrapped up its fifth successive Constructors Championship after Max Verstappen was taken out of the race lead while attempting to overtake Esteban Ocon.


Verstappen flew by Hamilton early in his second stint and was moving clear when his Red Bull got sent into a spin after a tangle with Ocon’s Racing Point Force India.


This relegated the Dutchman behind Hamilton, who managed engine and tyre concerns to remain clear and claim victory after clinching the title for the first time – the Briton was winless in the Grands Prix he completed after securing the championships in 2015 and 17 respectively.


Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen rounded out the top three after taking advantage of team-mate Sebastian Vettel’s struggles early on and Valtteri Bottas’ hopes for a podium were dashed.


When the Brazilian Grand Prix began, pole sitter Hamilton got a great start off the line whilst Vettel locked up into turn one, allowing Bottas to pass the Ferrari around the outside and moved into second place.


On lap three, Hamilton was slowly pulling away as behind them Verstappen passed Raikkonen for fourth place with a stunning move before the braking zone around the outside on the crest.


A lap later, Verstappen dived past Vettel on the inside into turn one as the Ferrari’s were struggling to get the tyres up to grip.


Vettel then went wide at turn four after a lockup as Ferrari team-mate Raikkonen passed the German.


Verstappen continued his impressive charge as he gained closer to Bottas’ Mercedes and made the move stick on lap 10 on the inside into turn one for second place.


Bottas began to struggle as fellow Finnish compatriot Raikkonen started to attack the Mercedes attempting to pass him around the outside of turn four but Bottas held his ground and held onto fourth.


Hamilton continued to hold a 1.6 second gap over the Dutchman while team-mate Bottas was the first of the front runners to pit for mediums on lap 19.


The Briton pitted a lap later and relinquished the lead to Verstappen while the Ferrari’s of Raikkonen and Vettel’s longer first stint on the softs continued.


Hamilton emerged on track in seventh place and had to pass Leclerc and Grosjean to keep in the lead battle.


Verstappen remained out on track ahead of the two Ferrari’s of Raikkonen and Vettel as the Dutchman was comfortable out front.


Vettel was the first of the Ferrari’s to pit on lap 28 for a set of mediums and came out behind the Haas of Kevin Magnussen in ninth.


On lap 30, Verstappen held a 9.694 lead from Raikkonen, with Red Bull team-mate Ricciardo in third while Hamilton was up to fourth and Sauber’s Charles Leclerc completed the top five.


Raikkonen pitted on lap 32 and emerged behind team-mate Vettel in seventh as both Ferrari’s were less than two seconds behind fifth placed Bottas.


On lap 35, Vettel let Raikkonen by for sixth place to try and push Bottas for fifth.


Race leader Verstappen pitted from the lead on lap 36 for the soft compounds and emerged in third place behind Hamilton while Ricciardo continues his long first stint in-front.


Vettel was dropping back of the Bottas/Raikkonen fight for fourth.


Verstappen was eating into Hamilton’s advantage and on lap 40 caught the Briton and flew past the Mercedes on the main straight.


Hamilton then fought back at turn four, but Verstappen held his line while Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo pitted from the lead for a set of softs and came out 1.6 seconds behind Vettel in sixth place.


Verstappen rapidly built a 2.2 gap over Hamilton while Ricciardo posted the fastest lap and was right on the tail of Vettel.


Ricciardo then made a move around the outside of the German into turn one but Vettel held his ground and ran the Australian out of room.


On lap 44, drama struck for Verstappen after he spun out after contact with Force India’s Esteban Ocon. Verstappen passed the Frenchman into turn one but Ocon fought back around the outside and the Dutchman tried to get ahead into the second part of the Senna S before the pairing collided giving Hamilton the lead.


While this took place, Raikkonen passed Bottas for the final podium position.


Ricciardo then attempted to go around the outside of Vettel again at the first corner and made slight contact, but this time the Red Bull squeezed his way through. Vettel tried to fight back at turn four with DRS but Ricciardo made it stick for fifth place.


On lap 50, Hamilton held a 4.727 second gap to Verstappen with Raikkonen third, Bottas fourth and Ricciardo rounding out the top five.


“I have massive floor damage,” said Verstappen. He asked for details, so he could understand how it’s affecting his RB14 racer.


Vettel pitted for a set of supersofts on lap 54 and returned to the track in seventh behind Leclerc.


In-front Verstappen was half a second quicker than Hamilton with the gap down to 3.5 seconds.


Vettel then posted the fastest lap of the race and finally caught Leclerc to pass him for sixth place.


Ricciardo then passed Bottas for fourth into turn one as the Australian moved into fourth while Bottas pits again for soft tyres.


Verstappen brought the gap to race leader Hamilton down to 2.5 seconds with the Briton reporting understeer while Ricciardo posted the fastest lap of the race and 2.1 seconds behind Raikkonen in fourth.


Bottas and Vettel were half a second off the lead while the Finn pulled away from the German to hold fifth.


Hamilton called for blue flags as he dealt with traffic from McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Williams’ Lance Stroll.


Verstappen was two seconds behind Hamilton and needed to pass the backmarkers with the latter reporting his tyres were worn out.


Behind them, Ricciardo was right on the back of Raikkonen’s Ferrari in the battle for third and was within DRS range.


Verstappen then closed the gap down to Hamilton to 1.5 seconds, setting up a close finish.


Hamilton then moved by Sergey Sirotkin and Ocon, with Verstappen also getting by with the gap remaining the same.


With 5.2 seconds covered the top four of Hamilton, Verstappen, Raikkonen and Ricciardo.


Hamilton just held on to win the Brazilian Grand Prix by 1.459 seconds from Verstappen while Raikkonen kept Ricciardo at bay to complete the podium.


“These guys have worked so hard, the last six years has been an incredible journey with them,” explained Hamilton after taking his 72nd career victory. “Everybody tries to get the best out of themselves and pull together as a unit. It was an honour to drive for them today.”


“We were having issues with the engine, then we got back into contention. I saw it happen, it wasn’t surprised by it, I saw them racing, they weren’t racing for the same position. Fortunately, he was able to get back going.” Hamilton concluded.


Bottas completed the top five ahead of Vettel who was sixth and Leclerc who finished seventh.


Haas F1 Team duo Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen came home in eighth and ninth respectively with Racing Point Force India’s Sergio Perez rounding out the top ten.

Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley finished outside the top ten in 11th place, with the Kiwi furious over the radio at team-mate Pierre Gasly for not following orders to switch positions.


Gasly, who was also angry, eventually let Hartley by on the last lap but also lost a position to Renault’s Carlos Sainz and settled for 13th.


McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne finished in 14th place and ahead of the aforementioned Ocon who was 15th and Sirotkin who took 16th.


The other Renault-powered McLaren of Alonso who was given a five second time penalty for ignoring for blue flags, came home 17th as Williams Martini Racing’s Stroll finished at the rear.


There were only two retirements at the Brazilian Grand Prix, Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson stopped in the early stages after sustaining damage at turn one, with the Swede falling down the order and suffering a spin following his pitstop.


Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg was told to stop after the Anglo-French outfit reported high engine temperatures.


The Situation

Lewis Hamilton returns to Abu Dhabi with the Driver’s Championship wrapped up and sits on top with 383 points and an 81-point advantage over Sebastian Vettel who is second on 302 points while Kimi Raikkonen is a further 132 behind the Briton in third on 251 points.


Mercedes comes to the Yas Marina Circuit with the Constructors Championship secured and sits on top of the standings with 620 points and a 67-point lead over nearest rivals Ferrari who are second on 553 points while Red Bull Racing are a further 228 behind the Silver Arrows in third on 392 points.


2018 Formula 1 World Driver’s Championship Standings

  1. Lewis Hamilton – 383 Points.
  2. Sebastian Vettel – 302 Points.
  3. Kimi Raikkonen – 251 Points.
  4. Valtteri Bottas – 237 Points.
  5. Max Verstappen – 234 Points.
  6. Daniel Ricciardo – 158 Points.
  7. Nico Hulkenberg – 69 Points.
  8. Sergio Perez – 58 Points.
  9. Kevin Magnussen – 55 Points.
  10. Fernando Alonso – 50 Points.


2018 Formula 1 World Constructors Championship Standings

  1. Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport – 620 Points.
  2. Scuderia Ferrari – 553 Points.
  3. Aston Martin Red Bull Racing – 392 Points.
  4. Renault Sport F1 Team – 114 Points.
  5. Haas F1 Team – 90 Points.
  6. McLaren-Renault F1 Team – 62 Points.
  7. Racing Point Force India F1 Team – 48 Points.
  8. Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team – 42 Points.
  9. Scuderia Toro Rosso-Honda – 33 Points.
  10. Williams Martini Racing – 7 Points.


The Formula 1 2018 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend begins Friday November 23 with Free Practice 1 and 2, followed by Free Practice 3 and Qualifying Saturday November 24 and the 55 lap Race Sunday November 25.

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