2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Practice Review

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Lewis Hamilton wins the Brazilian GP ahead of Nico Rosberg in second place and Max Verstappen in third place. Sauber, Williams, Ferrari and Force India all managed to score some much needed points at the event.

This is the last race of the 2016 season and also the last race weekend that Jones on F1 will be covering for at least a year due to myself deciding to focus on my F1 and Formula E coverage for Driving for Pleasure for 2017.

The Yas Marina Circuit is located on Yas Island, about 30 minutes from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Approximately 50,000 spectators can view the action on the circuit from permanent, covered grandstands that protect visitors from the desert sun. It is the only F1 motorsports venue in the world where all of the grandstands are covered.

The Yas Marina Circuit is 5.55 kilometers long and can be split into two smaller tracks of 3.1 kilometers and 2.4 kilometers, which can operate simultaneously where desired. A total of 21 corners with 9 right turns and 12 left turns. The width of the circuit fluctuates from 12-16 meters. The direction is anti-clockwise. The track has a lot of hairpins and long straights and there is few potential overtaking places. The pit lane entry is very challenging, as is the exit, which runs underneath the track in a tunnel.

At 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand prix, for the first time in Formula 1 history, a race was scheduled to start in daylight and end during night-time. The race was started approximately one hour before sunset. The permanent lighting system was turned on from the start of the race to ensure a seamless transition from daylight to dark.

The world’s largest indoor theme park, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, is also located on Yas Island. The park hosts more than 20 rides and attractions. One of the attractions, Formula Rossa, has the same G force one would feel driving in an F1 car and braking at maximum speed. It is the world’s fastest roller coaster, powered through the 2.07 km track at speeds up to 240 km/h, reaching 0-100 km/h in less than two seconds. It is so intense that passengers have to protect their eyes with goggles.

Practices 1, 2 and 3

The main headline from the Practice sessions is that Mercedes look to have the driver-car package to beat this weekend as weather conditions and tyre management which will test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1 and FP2.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1 and FP2.

Practice 1 saw Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheet with a time of 1.42.869 followed closely by Nico Rosberg with a gap of 0.374 seconds behind, Max Verstappen was in third with a gap of 0.428 seconds behind, Daniel Ricciardo in fourth with a gap of 0.493 seconds behind and Sebastian Vettel in fifth with a gap of 1.136 seconds behind Hamilton.

Sergio Perez was in sixth with a gap of 1.286 seconds behind, Kimi Raikkonen was in seventh with a gap of 1.687 seconds behind, Carlos Sainz Jr was eighth with a gap of 1.816 seconds behind, Felipe Massa was ninth with a gap of 2.170 behind and Marcus Ericsson was tenth with a gap of 2.299 seconds behind Hamilton.

During FP1, Romain Grosjean was unhappy with his Haas and reported that he lost the car three times on left-handers before a spin at Turn 1, which damaged his tyres and ended his session early.

Also Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was bottom of the timesheets after completing just four laps having had his running cut short when he picked up a left-rear puncture and had to park on track.

Practice 2 saw Hamilton tops the timesheet with a time of 1.40.861 followed closely by Rosberg with a gap of 0.079 seconds behind, Vettel was in third with a gap of 0.269 seconds behind,  Verstappen in fourth with a gap of 0.528 seconds behind and Ricciardo in fifth with a gap of 0.529 seconds behind Hamilton.

Raikkonen was in sixth with a gap of 0.603 seconds behind,  Bottas was in seventh with a gap of 1.098 seconds behind, Perez was eighth with a gap of 1.180 seconds behind, Hulkenberg was ninth with a gap of 1.403 behind and Massa was tenth with a gap of 1.407 seconds behind Hamilton.

During FP2, Toro Rosso drivers Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat completed only nine laps between them and sat out much of the 90-minute session. This followed Daniil Kvyat suffered his second left-rear puncture of the day, having suffered a similar fate in practice one, and spinning at Turn 17.

At the latter part of the session, Vettel suffered a gearbox failure on his Ferrari and had to stop on the track with the marshals safely recovering the car from the circuit.

He returned to the pits, with F1 technical delegate Jo Bauer and the team inspecting Kvyat’s wheel, and neither Toro Rosso returned to the track again.

Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets in FP3.

Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets in FP3.

Practice 3 saw Vettel topping the timesheet with a time of 1.40.775 followed closely by Verstappen with a gap of 0.137 seconds behind, Raikkonen was in third with a gap of 0.224 seconds behind,  Hamilton in fourth with a gap of 0.290 seconds behind and Rosberg in fifth with a gap of 0.393 seconds behind Vettel.

Ricciardo was in sixth with a gap of 1.056 seconds behind,  Perez was in seventh with a gap of 1.110 seconds behind, Hulkenberg was eighth with a gap of 1.292 seconds behind, Bottas was ninth with a gap of 1.301 behind and Gutierrez was tenth with a gap of 1.579 seconds behind Vettel.

During FP3, Toro Rosso returned to the track after stopping running in yesterday’s session amid concerns it and the FIA had about safety following two punctures believed to be car-related.

You would be stupid not to bet against the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg to gain pole position again this weekend. As the Mercedes drivers seem to be performing brilliantly at the moment and the momentum is with them from all the track mileage and their strong form from the last race. Vettel, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, or Verstappen also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top ten places at the moment.

However, I think that Williams, Force India or even McLaren have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here to be in the hunt for some decent points this weekend. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…

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