By Jessica Borrell
- Abu Dhabi Preview
- Will Mercedes let Hamilton and Rosberg race?
- Unique final race ends beneath floodlights
Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi – Will the final race of the 2015 season complete Lewis Hamilton’s campaign, or will Nico Rosberg take the last laugh heading into the winter break?
It will be the fourth time the Yas Marina circuit will host the season finale of the Formula 1 season, and all eyes will be on Mercedes. Will they give their drivers the chance to race each other freely and put on a final show, or will team politics stifle any fun to be had on track?
With places and points largely determined up and down the grid, only pride is at stake for the drivers racing around the 5.6km circuit. That said, don’t expect drivers to be running around without a care in the world this weekend, the life expectancy of many of their engines is on it’s last legs and a 10-place grid penalty will surely ruin anyone’s races.
The Yas Marina circuit is not a track for those who get travel sickness. With 21 corners that are often in sets of three at a time, it’s a job making sure you get a good lap-time in qualifying but creates a different challenge during the race. Fuel saving will be at a maximum during the opening stage of the race, making it another factor in the Hamilton/ Rosberg battle royale. Both will be hoping for an early safety car to eliminate having to coast for a large chunk of the race.
Fuel consumption will also play apart of race strategies, as usually the lead car will have the decision whether to pit first or to try and lengthen the phase, potentially ruining the race for their teammate. Rosberg has had a string of good results, winning the last two races, surely giving him the confidence over Hamilton this weekend.
This is the only race on the calendar where cars set off in the afternoon sun and pass the chequered flag below the floodlights of the harbor. It’s a spectacle to see the final laps play out with the expectancy of fireworks and obligatory donuts from the likes of Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
Romain Grosjean in his last race for Lotus before switching to Haas F1 told the official Formula 1 website that it’s also a unique experience for the drivers.
It’s a very special Grand Prix given that it starts in the day and finishes under lights, which makes it incredible for the fans as they can see through our visors and watch how hard we are concentrating. It’s also pretty good for me as I can get up a bit later on race day!
The weekend is a bit unusual as it can be difficult to work on car set-up in FP1 and FP3 as conditions are not representative of those you’ll find in qualifying and the race. This means FP2 becomes even more important for both the engineers and myself, which makes it a rather crucial session.”
The final countdown
The season may already be over in the opinion of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, but some are still fighting for their livelihoods in the search for a race seat next season. Both current Manor Marussia drivers, Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi, have not been confirmed for a second season and spaces are now at a minimum with only the Manor driver’s spots available.
McLaren wonder boy Stoffel Vandoorne and Mercedes test driver Pascal Wehrlein have committed their 2016 to racing in Formula 1 but no current contract has been signed. Also without a drive for next season is 2014 McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen. After being dropped by the McLaren-Honda brand on his birthday he was sure to have a seat at newly formed Haas F1, until Ferrari specified that one of their development drivers must race for the team for them to supply engines for the team.
In terms of next season’s cars, McLaren Honda will need to make an improvement of around 2.5 seconds from the first race to show any signs of progression from the winter break. They will be compared to Haas F1 on their racing debut after having a relatively short time creating a team, making a car and being race ready before the first winter test in February. Having Ferrari engines will make the correlation between McLaren more interesting as next season Ferrari will surely have a package to match and maybe better Mercedes’.
It will be a year of flight or fright for Rosberg as he will need to gain an early lead in the championship before Hamilton’s consistency brings him back into contention for his third championship in a row. If the latter does happen, expect Rosberg to jump ship before he is pushed to make way for the likes of Valtteri Bottas or Max Verstappen.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix starts at 1pm and is live on Sky Sports F1 and on the BBC.
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