The United Arab Emirates welcomes Formula 1 for the fifth consecutive year at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. The 5.5km track is situated on a man-made island on the eastern side of Abu Dhabi, and it’s one of only five anti-clockwise circuits on this year’s calendar.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is unique in that it’s the only twilight race of the year. It starts in daylight at 5:00pm (local), but darkness falls as the race approaches half-distance and the circuit is lit thereafter by the largest permanent lighting system in the world. Other stand-out features at Yas Marina Circuit include the pitlane, which exits through a tunnel under Turn One, and the paddock’s air-conditioned pit garages.
As is often the case with Hermann Tilke-designed racetracks, the circuit has three distinct sectors. Fast corners dominate sector one; two long straights, along which the track’s two DRS zones are located, populate sector two, and some tortuous Monaco-style twists end the lap. Average cornering speeds are on the low side, but the track is still an interesting technical challenge because the cars don’t run with maximum downforce.
The asphalt is very smooth, which makes it kind on tyres, and wear rates are further reduced by the cooler track temperatures experienced after sunset. There is usually a lot of track evolution during the race, which will help Jenson Button and Sergio [Checo] Perez preserve the Soft and Medium compounds – the same as in India last weekend – that Pirelli are taking to the race.
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2011 (see below) and our current drivers have good records at Yas Marina Circuit. Jenson has finished on the podium three times and Checo won the GP2 feature race in 2010.
|Race distance||55 laps (189.747 miles/305.355km)|
|Start time||17:00 (local)/13:00 (GMT)|
|Circuit length||3.451 miles/5.554km|
|2012 winner||Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus E20) 55 laps in 1hr45:58.667s (172.879km/h)|
|2012 pole||Lewis Hamilton (McLaren MP4-27) 1m40.630s (198.692km/h)|
|Lap record||Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB5) 1m40.279s (199.387km/h)|