The 18th Formula One Grand Prix has come to United Arab Emirates which means the Asian F1 series is over. Being one of the most unique circuit, the circuit is built on Yas Marina Island, a 2500 hectares artificial island with the iconic Ferrari World. The circuit is designed to be like the Arabic version of Monaco and Singapore, a twisty circuit surrounded by amazing architectures like the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel.
Like a typical street circuit, there are 21 corners in one lap of Yas Marina Circuit but with two long straights for DRS activation. Generally, it is still a slow circuit as one lap takes about 1 minute 40 seconds, almost as slow as Singapore Marina Bay Street Circuit. The circuit has a number of potential overtaking spots, at Turn 5/6 before the hairpin at Turn 7, at Turn 8 at the end of long straight DRS zone and at Turn 11, also at the end of another long straight DRS zone. Grip level is generally high as the high grip surface material is being used. The circuit is well balanced and that’s why Yas Marina Circuit is chosen for testing. Pirelli has allocated P Zero Medium and Soft tyres for the race due to the twisty and high-downforce circuit. Many has regarded Yas Marina Circuit as a Red Bull Racing circuit since Red Bull F1 cars are considered to have the most downforce. A good mechanical balance is also very important here due to the rapid changing directions.
The race is first debuted in 2009 and has also won by Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. As in Singapore, both drivers have a very good pace in a similar circuit. In India, both Red Bull and McLaren also locked out the front row in the qualifying session and race. So, we might see a similar front row lock out again in Abu Dhabi. Qualifying is more important here since overtaking is quite difficult in the race. With 3 more races to go in this season, Ferrari and McLaren are still challenging Red Bull in the constructors’ standings and we will see what improvements can both teams bring to Abu Dhabi.
Lap Record : 1:40.279 – Sebastian Vettel (2009)
Formula One can be considered as one of the most dangerous sport in the world. The most recent near-fatal accident is in 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix where Felipe Massa was seriously injured after he got struck by a spring. As a result, a Zylon strip has been added to the visor area of the helmets. Zylon has 1.6 times the tensile strength of Kevlar which is able to provide sufficient protection for the drivers’ heads. Another infamous accident is the first lap crash in 2012 Belgian Grand Prix where Fernando Alonso is very lucky to have a near miss with the airborne Romain Grosjean’s Lotus and as a result, Grosjean was given a one race ban. Also, not to forget the epic flip from Mark Webber in 2010 European Grand Prix in Valencia. Safety concerns have been raised again after Belgian GP and discussions have been made whether to cover the cockpit with a canopy.
FIA Institute has been researching to improve driver-cockpit safety. One of the tools used is a nitrogen gas cannon which can be fired at a pressure of 1200 psi.
The test is conducted by firing a F1 tyre at about 225 km/h towards a polycarbonate windshield and a fighter jet canopy. You can see the windshield shatters but the canopy still remain intact.
Another tests is conducted by firing a F1 tyre at 225 km/h towards a forward roll hoop. This is the most promising safety feature to be incorporated in a F1 car without causing a closed cockpit.
Kimi : 2007 comeback not possible. McLaren : We’re going to push to the end.
The 17th Formula One World Championship Grand Prix has come to a relatively new motor racing circuit, the Buddh International Circuit at New Delhi, India. Debuted at 2011, this circuit is known to be very challenging to the drivers, due to the wide corners, multi apex corners and also the changes in elevation. Sebastian Vettel said it’s like a roller coaster. Since the circuit is new, it is still possible to break the lap record before the change in regulations in 2014.
The circuit length is 5.125 km and the 60-lap-race is 307.249 km long. It has one of the longest main straight (1060m) and also one of the longest pit lane (about 600m). Race strategies are important to make sure the time spent in the pit lane is “well spent”. Turn 3 is unusually wide to allow drivers to take different approach down the DRS main straight and improve overtaking. One of the most unique section of the circuit is the multi-apex Turn 10, 11 and 12. It’s a huge, bowl-shaped double-apex right-hander, like the Spoon at Suzuka Circuit, but tightens at the exit. Also, not to forget the left-hander at Turn 5, 6 and 7 which is very tricky to master, a good traction without sacrificing too much speed.
Pirelli will be bringing their P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero Silver hard tyres, a conservative combination provided that the circuit is still new. An extra set of soft tyres are given to the teams on Friday FP1 session for extra testing and data collection. Tyre loadings is expected to be high especially on the high speed multi-apex Turn 10, 11 and 12. The elevation changes through the course of the circuit and the drivers have to take account of that when braking.
Red Bull is still leading the pack on both constructors and championship standings with Ferrari and McLaren challenging its position. It is a great timing to race in a real racing circuit this weekend rather than a street circuit and we can see the teams and drivers give everything they could to the race. While Kimi Raikkonen has expressed his thoughts on the chances of getting the title, McLaren and Ferrari have not given up any hopes in the constructors championship standings. We’ll watch another epic battle between the top teams again.
Lap Record : 1:27.249 – S Vettel (2011)