McLaren at the 2012 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand PrixEnlarge Photo
The Yas Marina Circuit, named for the island on which it’s situated, stretches 3.4 miles and includes 21 turns. It has three distinct sectors, each putting different demands on the car.
The first corner is the start of a flowing sequence of bends, were cars and drivers are subjected to lateral acceleration of up to 4 g and speeds in excess of 155 mph. There are then two very long straights in the middle section and the last sector is tight and twisty.
This variety makes car setup a compromise between high-speed balance, straight-line speed, good traction and braking stability. The track surface itself has relatively high-grip and is hard wearing. Temperatures are also typically high, with the current weather forecast for Sunday’s race looking like sunny skies and peak temps of 90 degrees F (32 degrees C).
Pirelli has brought its P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft tires, the same combination as 2011’s race. It’s one of the more familiar venues for the tire manufacturer as a lot of its testing is done at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Only one of the three Abu Dhabi Grands Prix held so far has been won from pole, though drivers will still be eager to get whatever edge they can. Going into qualifying tomorrow, Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel leads the Drivers’ Championship with 240 points, followed closely by Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso on 227 points and Lotus’ Kimi Räikkönen a distant third with 173 points.
In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull Racing remains the clear leader with a massive 407 points, followed by Ferrari with 316 points and McLaren not far behind with 310 points.