Track data: Yas Marina
|Lap length||5.554km (3.451 miles)|
|Grand prix distance||305.355km (189.739 miles)|
|Lap record (in a race)||1’40.279 (Sebastian Vettel, 2009)|
|Fastest lap (any session)||1’38.434 (Lewis Hamilton, 2011, qualifying two)|
|Tyre compounds||Soft and Super-soft|
|2014 Rate the Race||6.49 out of 10|
|2014 Driver of the Weekend||Daniel Ricciardo|
*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix
The chequered flag will fall on the 2015 F1 season at Yas Marina this weekend. With the top three in both championships already settled and most drivers already confirmed on the grid for next year, for many of them there’s little more than pride at stake in this one.
But pride can count for an awful lot – especially when the driver you’re fighting with is your team mate. Below are some of the most significant contests to be resolved between the competitors this weekend.
This is F1’s seventh visit to Yas Marina, a facility which was built at staggering cost on a man-made island in 2009. For all its qualities as a facility, the track itself is not the most stimulating layout, dominant by slow corners and fiddly chicanes. The two long DRS zones tend to have a strong influence on the action.
The teams have largely got a handle on the peculiarities of the evening race during which track temperatures fall rather rise, as is typical. The track is typically much hotter during the practice sessions, which can lead them to draw to mistaken conclusions about tyre performance.
The low demands the track places on the tyres means that Pirelli can use its softest compounds. Most teams ran a straightforward two-stopper last year, though several were able to delay their final stint in order to run the super-soft tyres a second time – potentially an advantage if there is a late Safety Car period.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix team-by-team preview
Lewis Hamilton has been beaten by Nico Rosberg in both races since he cinched the championship. Has Hamilton backed off now he’s got the title in the bag? Has Rosberg solved how to translate his recent string of pole positions into victories? Or, as Hamilton suggested in Brazil, have changes to the W06 since Singapore helped his team mate?
Either way, Rosberg will give his team mate something to think about if he goes from pole to victory again this weekend. Particularly as Yas Marina is a track which Hamilton likes and one which suits his strengths as a super-late braker.
Will Daniil Kvyat end his first season as a Red Bull driver ahead of team mate Daniel Ricciardo in the points? He has a ten-point margin over his team mate meaning Ricciardo needs to finish at least fourth to ensure Kvyat doesn’t do to him what he did to Sebastian Vettel last year.
Red Bull versus their engine supplier Renault has been one of the most enduring battles of the season. What will happen to the relationship after Abu Dhabi? In theory they are heading for divorce, but Red Bull appear to have no other alternatives on the table for 2016.
The highest position in the drivers’ championship still in dispute is fourth place, held by Valtteri Bottas, who has a one-point margin over Kimi Raikkonen. The pair have clashed twice recently: Bottas came off worse in Russia, Raikkonen in Mexico. Williams were strong in Abu Dhabi last year but they had no answer for Ferrari in Brazil.
If Raikkonen has a clean weekend Bottas could lose out to his fellow Finn at the last race. But it’s been a year of mixed fortunes for Raikkonen, stymied by technical problems at times (his pre-race engine change in Brazil being just the latest example) and being the architect of his own demise on other occasions. Raikkonen also needs to keep an eye on the points gap to the other Ferrari: he’s in danger of finishing the season with less than half of his team mate’s points for the second year in a row.
McLaren will finish second-to-last in the constructors’ championship unless they score at least nine points in Abu Dhabi – something they managed just once this year – and Sauber come away with nothing. However the team is concentrating on using this opportunity to prepare for 2016. “All of our efforts this weekend will be beneficial to next year’s car,” stated racing director Eric Boullier.
With a best-ever finish of fifth in the constructors’ championship assured, and Nico Hulkenberg unlikely to find the 17 points he needs to leapfrog team mate Sergio Perez, the former will have to be on guard to ensure his place inside the drivers’ top ten isn’t pinched by Romain Grosjean or Max Verstappen.
It’s much closer between the two Toro Rosso drivers than the points score indicates: Max Verstappen has 49 to Carlos Sainz Jnr’s 20, but the latter has had far more race-ending car failures. Sainz can’t beat Verstappen in the points, but he can preserve his qualifying superiority: he’s 8-7 up at the moment.
Pastor Maldonado didn’t acquire his incident-prone reputation by staying out of trouble, and he is once again on course to end the year with more penalties than anyone else. He has been responsible for eight penalties so far this year something only Sainz, on seven, has come close to.
The Sauber drivers have been the most closely-matched pair in qualifying this year. They are currently tied at nine-all in the qualifying battle, with Marcus Ericsson just nine thousandths of a second quicker on average and with one more appearance in Q3 than Felipe Nasr.
Roberto Merhi is back for the final race as Alexander Rossi is on GP2 duty again. In the nine races where both he and Will Stevens saw the flag, Merhi was ahead on five occasions, a margin of superiority he will want to preserve.
2015 driver form
|Driver||Grid average||Race average||Race best||Race worst||Classified||Form guide|
|Lewis Hamilton||1.56||1.71||1||6||17/18||Form guide|
|Nico Rosberg||2.11||3.18||1||17||17/18||Form guide|
|Daniel Ricciardo||8.28||8.44||2||15||16/18||Form guide|
|Daniil Kvyat||9.72||7.33||2||13||15/17||Form guide|
|Felipe Massa||7.39||7.13||3||17||15/18||Form guide|
|Valtteri Bottas||6.39||6.38||3||14||16/18||Form guide|
|Sebastian Vettel||4.78||3.29||1||12||17/18||Form guide|
|Kimi Raikkonen||7.72||4.92||2||8||13/18||Form guide|
|Fernando Alonso||15.65||11.70||5||18||10/17||Form guide|
|Jenson Button||16.17||12.17||7||16||12/17||Form guide|
|Nico Hulkenberg||10.06||8.92||6||15||12/18||Form guide|
|Sergio Perez||10.61||8.76||3||13||17/18||Form guide|
|Max Verstappen||11.39||9.36||4||17||14/18||Form guide|
|Carlos Sainz Jnr||12.50||10.00||6||13||11/18||Form guide|
|Romain Grosjean||9.83||8.58||3||13||12/18||Form guide|
|Pastor Maldonado||11.78||9.90||7||15||10/18||Form guide|
|Marcus Ericsson||13.78||11.93||8||16||15/18||Form guide|
|Felipe Nasr||13.56||11.13||5||20||16/17||Form guide|
|Will Stevens||17.82||15.93||13||19||14/16||Form guide|
|Roberto Merhi||18.08||15.18||12||18||11/12||Form guide|
|Kevin Magnussen||17.00||0/0||Form guide|
|Alexander Rossi||17.80||15.40||12||18||5/5||Form guide|
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