The pride of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit remains the benchmark for race tracks, one built for its 2009 Formula 1 debut at a cost of $1.5 billion US dollars…
And the track is used year-round, not just in hosting all kinds of motorsport but also cycling and triathlons, as a popular hub for the local community. While just beyond the circuit lies Ferrari World… home to the world’s fastest roller coaster Formula Rossa.
The UAE capital has held the closing round of the F1 World Championship on all but three occasions, with 2018 its 10th edition… and while both titles are settled, it’s still expected to be a big celebration.
…and big final stoush on-track, with Abu Dhabi a chance for the drivers to salvage reputations and build momentum into the European winter; while for the teams, a change in position in the constructors’ championship can be worth millions of dollars in prize money.
Located 30 minutes from downtown Abu Dhabi, the 5.554 kilometre track has 21 turns, 12 left and nine right, and a top speed of 345 kilometres an hour. Sebastian Vettel set the lap record for Red Bull Racing back in 2009. There are two DRS activation zones - between turns seven and eight, and Turns 10 to 11. There are two DRS detection zones, one before turn seven, the other after turn nine.
The track also has a number of unique features such as the LED-covered Yas Viceroy hotel that straddles the track between Turns 18 and 19, a pit exit tunnel, and run-offs under grandstands.
The futuristic design and gargantuan facilities ensuring massive interest from the global motorsport community for testing and racing.
Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel share the spoils with three wins each, with Vettel securing his first crown there in 2010. Mercedes has won the last four-straight, highlighting the Silver Arrows’ hybrid-era dominance.
Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen will be desperate to end the season on a high after his Brazil nightmare, with the Dutchman on-course for the win before Force India’s Esteban Ocon tried to unlap himself…the pair making contact at Turn 2, and spinning, letting Hamilton through for the lead.
And while Verstappen was reprimanded by the race stewards for pushing Ocon post-race, for which he was handed a penalty of two-days of public service; he’ll want to keep the fights on track in Abu Dhabi.
SOUNDBITE (English) MAX VERSTAPPEN,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
“Today we came here for my boxing lessons with a world champion. It was a lot of fun, and as you can see - sweating a bit.”
Over the years there’s been plenty of thrilling races at Yas Marina Circuit, with 2016’s a nail-biter, Hamilton attempting to back teammate Nico Rosberg into the chasing pack in the hope he’d drop out of the podium-paying position he needed for the title. But to no avail, Rosberg securing the championship and then promptly quitting the sport.
SOUNDBITE: (English) NICO ROSBERG,
WORLD CHAMPION, MERCEDES:
“The last race, [was] mentally the toughest thing I've done, except for watching my wife suffer through the birth of our daughter, that was a whole other level.”
Hot, technical and glamorous - it’s time for the 2018 season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.