PRIXVIEW – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Features Prixview

Round twenty-one and final round of the season takes Formula One to the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The day-night race is held on an island which has been developed over the last ten years into a billion pound leisure complex featuring Ferrari World which can be clearly seen from the turn seven hairpin.

The circuit features a mixture of long straights and fast flowing corners as well as a street style section gives the drivers a mixture of challenges. The track surface is one which offers drivers grip and that can cause problems as the breaking zone down to turn eight.

Yas Marina’s first sector is one which fast flowing corners after the first corner, flowed by a huge breaking point for the five-six chicane. Following the hairpin, drivers head onto the long 1.2km back straight which can create drag before the chicane at the end of the straight.

After a short straight the circuit enters a street style section as it rounds the harbour and goes under the iconic Yas Hotel. The hotel provides one of the iconic images of the circuit especially the LED lighting system that illuminates all 5,389 glass elements individually, with a system that changes the colour and brightness of each glass pane 20 times per second.

Red Bull won the first race in 2009. But the most memorable race in Abu Dhabi was the following year, Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton all headed to the race to decide the championship. Back to back wins in the desert saw Vettel become the sports youngest champion.

But Vettel’s third place in 2012 to beat Alonso was remarkable, the Red Bull driver had been excluded from qualifying and worked his way up to third to secure his third world title. That race saw Kimi Raikkonen’s first win for Lotus and his first since returning to F1.

That race has become famous for famous quote Raikkonen saying to his engineer over a radio transmission on lap 23; “Just leave me alone, I know what I’m doing.” Red Bull would seal their fourth title with victory in 2013.

The 2014 race was the first title showdown between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. However, the Englishman cruised to victory as the German dropped back because of an engine issue. Rosberg dropped out the points allowing Hamilton to seal his second title.

The following year, Hamilton had already wrapped his third title up. But Rosberg had a very strong weekend which some believe was the spring board to his 2016 title. Rosberg won the following year taking back to back wins and secured his title here. Valtteri Bottas continued Mercedes domination in the hybrid era with victory last year.

Facts and figures

Race 2018 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Venue Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
Circuit Length 5.554 km (3.451 mi)
Laps 55
Race Distance 305.470 km (189.810 mi)
Lap Record 1:40.279 (Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing, 2009)
Most wins drivers Sebastian Vettel

Lewis Hamilton (3)

Most wins manufacture Mercedes (4)

Fast facts

  • Yas Marina Circuit is the largest permanent sports venue lighting project in the world; previously that title was held by Losail in Qatar.
  • The Yas Marina Circuit cost an estimated AED 3.6 billion to construct and is the most technologically advanced circuit in the world.
  • The track can be split into two tracks to host two races simultaneously. The 5.55 km track covers 21 hectares and has 21 turns
  • Ferrari World Abu Dhabi has the fastest roller coaster in the world. It is situated at the hairpin. Ferrari World is also the largest indoor theme park in the world.
  • Including built-up urban areas surrounding the city core, Abu Dhabi has a land area of 310 square miles (803 square kilometres) which served as home to an estimated 1.7 million inhabitants in 2015.
  • A record four drivers – Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton – were in contention for the driver’s World Championship in 2010. Despite being 15 points adrift of championship leader Fernando Alonso before the race, Sebastian Vettel kept his cool to take the win and become the youngest ever F1 World Champion aged 23 years, 134 days.

Event timetable

Session Local GMT
P1 13:00-14:30 09:00-10:30
P2 17:00-18:30 13:00-14:30
P3 14:00-15:00 10:00-11:00
Qualifying  17:00-18:00 13:00-14:00
Race 17:10 13:10

What happened in 2017?

Valtteri Bottas took total control of the race testing his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, as the two managed to pull away from both the Ferrari’s. However, Bottas’s win was not enough to seal the second place in the drivers’ championship after Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel finished a lonely third. It was a good race for the Finn who withstood the pressure from Hamilton after the pit stops.

However, Hamilton was unable to get close enough to his teammate in order to make the move on his teammate. It was a troublesome evening for Red Bull, Daniel Ricciardo was forced into an early stop after a brush with the wall, before retiring with a hydraulic problem.

What to watch for?

Abu Dhabi is the final race of the season, with both championships now settled we can expect that all the top teams will allow free racing. Some of the best races have been when the championship has been decided, as the drivers focus more on racing. Abu Dhabi can be a difficult circuit to overtake as it’s a mixture of fast flowing corners an straights, as well as a street style section around the marina.

Mercedes have won every race in the hybrid era, they certainly will be in the mix. But Ferrari have been a lot stronger this year, key to victory I believe will breaking the two in the first two sectors will help them in the final sector. Red Bull can also be in the mix we have seen the team be very strong in the final few races.

2017 vs 2018 Race Data

  P1 Fastest P2 Fastest P3 Fastest Q1 Fastest Q2 Fastest Q3 Fastest Race Time Fastest Lap
2017 01:39.006 01:36.877 01:37.627 01:37.356 01:36.742 01:36.231 01:34:14.062 01:40.650
Diff -3.863 -3.984 -3.148 -2.131 -2.640 -2.000 04:10.051 -03:01.139
2016 01:42.869 01:40.861 01:40.775 01:39.487 01:39.382 01:38.755 01:38.04.013 01:43.729

Data Profile

A lap of …

Valtteri Bottas come out of the final corner goes to the outside as the crosses the start line, gets up to eighth gear before breaking about 100m before Turn One. Crosses the track gets close to the apex of the corner, runs to the outside. He build speed as he enters Two stays around the 274kph through Three and four.

Big stop as he enters the chicane at five and six. Good entry and exit runs close to the inside before crossing the track to the outside on the way into the hairpin. Runs around the apex, and straight across the track to the outside. Builds speed in eighth gear opening the DRS on this long run to eight. He breaks about 125m before eight hits the apex as he does at nine. Goes to the inside opening up the car through the kink at ten, breaks into eleven.

Takes the corner at 98kph in third gear, then through twelve and thirteen. Through the ninety degree fourteen runs to the outside then builds the speed as he goes through fifteen and sixteen before a huge breaking point for seventeen. Good through the ninety degree corner, as he does the same for eighteen and nineteen then to the outside before back to the inside for twenty. Good through twenty one going to the outside and across the line with a 01:36.231



Team Hypersoft Ultrasoft


L. Hamilton

Mercedes 8 3 2
V. Bottas 8 3


S. Vettel

Ferrari 8 2 3
K. Raikkonen 8 2


D. Ricciardo

Red Bull – Tag Heuer 8 3 2
M. Verstappen 8 3


S. Perez

Force India – Mercedes 9 2 2
E. Ocon 9 2


S. Sirotkin

Williams – Mercedes 10 1 2
L. Stroll 10 2


F. Alonso

McLaren – Renault 9 2 2
S. Vandoorne 9 2


P. Gasly

Toro Rosso –Honda 10 2 1
B. Hartley 10 1


R. Grosjean

Haas – Ferrari 8 3 2
K. Magnussen 8 4


N. Hulkenberg

Renault 7 5 1
C. Sainz 7 4


M. Ericsson

Sauber – Alfa Romeo 8 4 1
C. Leclerc 8 3




Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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