Formula One teams from all around the world arrived in Abu Dhabi for a day/night race before heading to Brazil for a final race of the season.
Practice sessions began on Friday at the Yas Marina track in the United Arab Emirates capital for the race on Sunday for which many hope to qualify.
This track is one of the few to run anti-clockwise, and regardless of the 21 corners as well as two straights, the circuit is known as being a difficult place to overtake.
However, this year two independent Drag Reduction System zones have been added which will permit cars to run with low profile wings to go faster and is expected to make overtaking much easier.
“I would have thought we will have two DRS zones,” said McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton, speaking well before the race. “We have two really long straights, so overtaking is going to be really good there I think and it will be a great spectacle this year.
“It’s a circuit that’s very stop-start in Abu Dhabi so you need a car that is very good under braking, you need good traction and it is also a circuit where it is very difficult to overtake so finding overtaking opportunities will be very tough there so we have got to qualify well. Putting it on the front row is pretty much a must for Abu Dhabi,” said Jenson Button, McLaren driver.
Controlling the tyres in the race is vital ─ the teams have to run both the medium compound (with a white stripe) and the soft compound (with a yellow stripe) during the race. Pirelli’s director of motorsport Paul Hembery says that the most important tyre for the race is the soft one, but the teams need to get the best out of the medium compound too.
“The medium will probably have very limited use,” Hembery said. “The race is really going to be run on the softer tyre because you do need a lot of compound grip from Abu Dhabi. We will probably have some hot weather but we have seen already this year that the soft tyre has actually worked from 15, 18 degrees all the way through to the late 40s, you know, track temperature. So it’s been a very successful tyre compound this year, the soft tyre, it’s been used everywhere and I foresee that happening as well in Abu Dhabi.”
Two experimental dry weather tyres have been brought to Abu Dhabi for the teams to assess during the weekend. These, or a variant of them, will probably be offered next season.