UAE capital Abu Dhabi is a jewel of the Middle East, the forward-thinking metropolis a commercial and cultural hub…its Grand Mosque an opulent and elegant local landmark.
Another icon - Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit - remains the global benchmark for race tracks - one built for its F1 debut in 2009 at a cost of $1.5 billion US dollars…
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 points, one before turn seven - the other after turn nine.
The circuit part of a much bigger development in the 25 square kilometre Yas Island, including Ferrari World - which houses the world’s fastest roller coaster Formula Rossa, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen getting a taste of its power in 2015.
The United Arab Emirates’ capital has held the closing round of the World Championship on all but three occasions, with 2019 its 11th edition… and while both titles are settled, it’s still expected to be a huge celebration.
…and a 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.
The battle for fifth in the standings still incredibly hot, with Renault leading the charge - and Toro Rosso and Racing Point on its tail.
Up front, it’s all about the preparation for 2020 with the Silver Arrows on form, and Ferrari again needing to regroup and up its game - to take on Mercedes on a more consistent basis.
Red Bull Racing will be focusing on even stronger collaboration with its power unit partner Honda, with the squad impressed with the Japanese manufacturer’s dedication.
SOUNDBITE (English) MAX VERSTAPPEN, F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING: "I really enjoy working with them [Honda], they are very professional and they're very determined to get on top of everything and try to be the best engine out there.”
Over the years there’s been plenty of thrilling races at Yas Marina Circuit, and loads of carbon-fibre crunches…
2010 seeing Michael Schumacher spin in his Mercedes, collecting Force India’s Vitantonio Liuzzi in a close call.
Another close call happened in 2012, with Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg flying over the back of HRT’s Narain Karthikeyan… and into the barrier.
2016 was a nail-biter… with 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 title and then promptly quitting the sport.
SOUNDBITE: (English) NICO ROSBERG, 2016 F1 WORLD CHAMPION: “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.”
In terms of success, Lewis Hamilton’s victory last year put him one ahead of Sebastian Vettel - 4 to 3. Mercedes winning the last five. Valtteri Bottas, Rosberg and Räikkönen the only others to win there.
2018’s edition also saw plenty of main straight doughnuts - with Hamilton, Vettel, and outgoing world champion Fernando Alonso all celebrating the Spaniard’s last F1 race.
Glamorous and technical, it’s time for 2019’s final race - in Abu Dhabi.