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Old 23 Nov 2018, 08:39 (Ref:3865202)   #1
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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Grand Prix Weekend Thread - Round 21 of 21

The five red lights at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will go out shortly before dusk and as the sun sets over the Yas Marina circuit, so the sun will set on the 2018 season. More or less the second half of the race is played out in darkness, with the floodlights illuminating the stage, as we see Formula 1 cars and drivers do battle for the final time this year. This will be the seventh occasion in F1's ten visits to Abu Dhabi that it hosts the final Grand Prix.

A purpose-built race circuit designed in conjunction with the surrounding buildings, including the symbolic Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel, whose diamond-shaped colour-changing LED panes show off the opulence of the emirates and which is built over the track, the Yas Marina circuit is characterised by its billiard table-like smooth surface and contemporary corner design with a few curious and tricky curves.

Drivers can carry quite a lot of speed into the wide Turn 1, but it has to be tempered because it is also quite an angle on the exit. They then vault up towards the apex of the left-hand Turn 2 on the brow of a slight hill before holding on flat through the long right-hand Turn 3. Turn 4 is really just a bit of a curve on the downhill straight. They can brake very late and carry a lot of speed into the left of the chicane at Turn 5 before being more circumspect on the exit at 6. The entry to Turn 7 is long and then comes the apex, so it’s easy to miss it, but whatever they do, drivers need to be carrying plenty of speed onto this straight, as it is by far the longest one on the track; it also has DRS.

After braking shortly after the 100-metre board, a quicker chicane follows before they enter the next straight and another DRS zone. They are now into Sector 2. There is another chicane, but this time it’s left, a tiny bit right and then immediately left again. The 90 left of Turn 14 follows, which takes the drivers into Sector 3. Turn 15 and Turn 16 are both right-handers and the braking for Turn 17 is tricky, as drivers are turning slightly and Turn 17 soon follows. It's quite a tight right and then the drivers go left under the hotel, before going left again as the track begins to open up. The final two corners are in a similar vein to Turns 15 and 16, but with the final corner being much more angled. Drivers carry a lot of speed through the penultimate turn but have to be careful to slow down enough for the final corner, which is a tricky angle to aim at following that braking zone.

In the first year, Brawn driver Jenson Button arrived in Abu Dhabi for the seventeenth and final race fresh off the back of his world championship, having sealed it last time out in Brazil. This was the final race for refuelling. After leading the early laps, Lewis Hamilton was jumped at the stops by Sebastian Vettel, in his first year with Red Bull. Hamilton went out with brake trouble, while the only other retirement was Jaime Alguersuari who retired after stopping in the Red Bull pit by mistake, instead of that of the junior team, Toro Rosso. Red Bull sent him out (it was the lap when Vettel was due in) and he went out of the race with a gearbox problem. Kamui Kobayashi finished sixth for Toyota, impressing the team and scoring points in only his second race; he looked set to stay at the team, but they were to withdraw at the end of the year (it was also BMW’s final race). He went to Sauber, which had got back their old team. Vettel held on for his fifth Grand Prix win and his fourth of the season. Team-mate Mark Webber fought off a hard challenge by the new World Champion on the final lap to hang on to the runner-up spot.

2010 was a championship decider with a result few people saw coming, this lack of foresight contributing to the result itself. Four drivers went into the race with a chance of winning the title, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso leading the championship battle on 246 points, with Mark Webber giving chase on 238, and more remote chances for Sebastian Vettel on 231 points and Lewis Hamilton on 222. It was the first year in which 25 points was awarded for a victory and the first time four drivers had entered the final Grand Prix with a chance of the world title.

On the opening lap, Michael Schumacher tried to pass Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg and spun, leading to a scary moment when Vitantonio Liuzzi put his car atop the Mercedes. Vettel led away from pole and ended up leading most of the race, apart from a period during the pit stops. Mark Webber struggled for grip on the super-soft tyres and pitted early. Ferrari followed suit for Alonso to cover the Red Bull driver, a catastrophic strategic decision as it turned out, which ultimately may have partly led to Aldo Costa’s demotion and perhaps even to his eventual departure from the team. Both drivers struggled to overtake and were well down the order, with Alonso’s race-long frustration behind Renault’s Vitaly Petrov a particularly obvious moment to pick as defining the outcome of the season.

Meanwhile, Vettel, blissfully unaware of being in the pound seats for the championship, romped home to victory. With some slight shades of James Hunt in 1976, he had no idea he was world champion on crossing the line and only learned of his success when told by his engineer. His high-pitched crying and subsequent euphoric scream over the radio shall remain a big memory of the 2010 Grand Prix season. It was also the first time since James Hunt in 1976 that a world champion’s first race as points leader was the one in which he took the title. Anyone who doubted it could have been Vettel should have looked no further back than 2007 when Raikkonen snuck up from behind to take away the championship that McLaren drivers Alonso and Hamilton were seen to have a hand on each. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that many people foresaw that being the first of four world championships on the trot for Vettel. ‘Trot’ doesn’t seem to cover it actually, as Sebastian ended up giving the impression that most of those hard-fought titles were won at a canter.

At the Yas Marina circuit the following year, Vettel again got into the first corner first, but a puncture led to his retirement and in a reversal of their 2009 fortunes, it was Lewis Hamilton who took the spoils. Alonso in the Ferrari and Button in the McLaren completed the podium.

2012 saw that season’s returnee Kimi Raikkonen return to the top step of the podium for the first time since 2009 in his new Lotus team. He controlled the race well since taking over the lead following Lewis Hamilton’s retirement and told the team and the world just how in control he was with his infamous words “Just leave me alone – I know what I’m doing” and when asked by the team to keep the heat in all four tyres under the safety car, replying “Yes, yes, yes, yes – I’m doing it all the time. You don’t have to remind me every ten seconds”. Kimi was quite big on words that day as both he and Vettel were warned by the stewards about swear words on the podium that day in the new-style more media-friendly podium ceremony. Kimi still had a more typical moment of nonchalance and understatement that day, though, with his placid response to being asked about his emotions regarding how it felt to be a winner again of "not much really".

In 2013, there was a partial solar eclipse that could be seen during the race, but Sebastian Vettel totally eclipsed the opposition, as he overtook Mark Webber into Turn 1 and led every lap of the race, winning by 30.8 seconds from his Red Bull team-mate.

2014 saw the first and probably last time that we will see double championship points offered in the last race. We also saw the super-soft and soft tyres being introduced, instead of the soft and the medium of the previous three seasons. Lewis Hamilton ended up taking his second world title and the win, with Felipe Massa just 2.5 seconds behind at the chequered flag. Valtteri Bottas’s third meant that Williams got their first double podium since Nick Heidfeld and Mark Webber finished 2nd and 3rd at Monaco in 2005.

The next year, Nico Rosberg completed an end-of-season hat-trick to win ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton, while Kimi Raikkonen completed the podium. This run of three wins for Nico extended into a run of seven, as he also took the first four victories of 2016, setting himself up for his world championship.

In the end, Nico took his only F1 world title, finishing second after what he described as a race which was "so intense, so, so, so horribly intense" and a "horrible feeling" defending. Lewis Hamilton won the race and tried to back Rosberg up into the pack, but Rosberg stayed resolute and held second over Daniel Ricciardo.

Last year, Valtteri Bottas won from world champ team-mate Hamilton. This year, the Finn hasn't taken a single victory, denied on a few unfortunate occasions.

The change of ambient temperature here as the race goes on can have its effect on performance. It can also be a little difficult to to avoid wheelspin out of some of the slow corners. The tyres heat up quite a lot in the first sector before then cooling down a bit on the long straight. It is expected to be a two-stop race for most drivers.

Circuit length: 5.554km
Number of laps: 55
Race distance: 305.355km
First Grand Prix: 2009

Dry weather tyre compounds: Hypersoft, Ultrasoft and Supersoft
DRS Detection Zone 1: Between Turns 6 and 7
DRS Activation Zone 1: On straight between Turns 7 and 8
DRS Detection Zone 2: After Turn 9
DRS Activation Zone 2: Between Turns 10 and 11
Speed trap: Near end of straight before Turn 8
Lap Record: 1:40.279 – Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault (2009)

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Old 23 Nov 2018, 09:35 (Ref:3865207)   #2
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S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!
See how Kubica gets on, as this is more than a normal practice session for him. This is preparation for next season
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Old 23 Nov 2018, 12:15 (Ref:3865218)   #3
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Skam85 should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridSkam85 should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridSkam85 should be qualifying in the top 3 on the grid
Great write up as always.

Had the privilege of attending this GP in 2013. Great venue, really enjoyed the country too. Public transport could do with some work but can’t imagine that would be a massive priority in the Emirates.

Looking forward to an elbows out race from everyone involved this weekend.
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Old 23 Nov 2018, 13:18 (Ref:3865226)   #4
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Mike Bell has a real shot at the podium!Mike Bell has a real shot at the podium!Mike Bell has a real shot at the podium!Mike Bell has a real shot at the podium!Mike Bell has a real shot at the podium!
Thank you Born Racer for this and all the other previews you’ve posted.

Nothing still to be decided as far as championship winners are concerned, but I’ll still try and catch the action somewhere.....
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Old 23 Nov 2018, 14:57 (Ref:3865237)   #5
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E.B should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridE.B should be qualifying in the top 3 on the gridE.B should be qualifying in the top 3 on the grid
Thanks BR for the preview.
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Old 23 Nov 2018, 15:22 (Ref:3865243)   #6
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S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!S griffin has a real shot at the podium!
RBRs looking good in FP2

That’s quite a surprise seeing Webber and Jos in the Red Bull garage speaking to Soperman. Also good to see JPM there too
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Old 23 Nov 2018, 15:29 (Ref:3865246)   #7
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Excellent intro as ever.

The end of another season dominated by Mercedes and Hamilton. I just hope someone can up their game for next season. Vettel certainly needs to. He can't afford to have another season like this one.
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Old 23 Nov 2018, 17:26 (Ref:3865274)   #8
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Great intro and thanks for all of them this season and over the years!

titles are done but still looking forward to seeing what Bottas, Kimi, DanRic, and yes even Alonso can do this weekend.

and obviously need Max and Ocon to find the same piece of track at the same time! maybe thats terrible but after this weekend we wont likely see them on track together til 2020.
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Old 23 Nov 2018, 17:29 (Ref:3865276)   #9
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djinvicta has a real shot at the podium!djinvicta has a real shot at the podium!djinvicta has a real shot at the podium!djinvicta has a real shot at the podium!
Cheers again BR for a great intro and for 2018.
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Old 24 Nov 2018, 16:53 (Ref:3865476)   #10
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No quali comments? Yes... bit bored...All a bit Merc one two...Shame Max is so far back..needs a good dive into the first corner.
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Old 24 Nov 2018, 17:09 (Ref:3865482)   #11
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No quali comments? Yes... bit bored...All a bit Merc one two...Shame Max is so far back..needs a good dive into the first corner.
Let's hope he checks who might be inside his line if he tries!

He's on the right tyres to slingshot a few off the line though....
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Old 24 Nov 2018, 18:14 (Ref:3865491)   #12
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No quali comments? Yes... bit bored...All a bit Merc one two...Shame Max is so far back..needs a good dive into the first corner.
Danny Ric has got his measure here. Max will have to dive on the person that perfected the dive. Danny wont be bothered about wrecking his teamate in his last race for the team.
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Old 24 Nov 2018, 18:31 (Ref:3865494)   #13
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No quali comments? Yes... bit bored...All a bit Merc one two...Shame Max is so far back..needs a good dive into the first corner.
It's all a bit of an after thought but I'll watch the race and see the season out.
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Old 24 Nov 2018, 20:28 (Ref:3865514)   #14
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Kempi should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridKempi should be qualifying in the top 5 on the grid
If I hear one more time that Ferrari had the best car this year I have to question what races the person was watching. No doubt that Lewis was also the best driver but the last few races were quite clear what the real power distribution is between the teams.
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Old 24 Nov 2018, 23:14 (Ref:3865536)   #15
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If I hear one more time that Ferrari had the best car this year I have to question what races the person was watching. No doubt that Lewis was also the best driver but the last few races were quite clear what the real power distribution is between the teams.
To be fair the Ferrari was the best car for the first half of the season...results don’t lie, but a combination of Mercedes out developing Ferrari and Vettel imploding has given Mercedes the title. Mercedes is the best car now, but for a good chunk of the year it wasn’t.
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