Clear skies are expected throughout the weekend and the peak temperature on Sunday will be 86 degrees F (30 degrees C), although the actual race doesn’t start until the late afternoon in order to escape Abu Dhabi’s harsh mid-day sun.
Because of this, engineers have to be wary of the cooling track temperatures as the sun goes down in what is the only twilight race of the year. Pirelli has nominated its soft and supersoft tires; a step softer than last year’s medium and soft combination.
In the first practice session today, it was business as usual with the two Mercedes AMG drivers leading the field. Lewis Hamilton was slightly faster, with the difference between him and teammate Nico Rosberg just 0.13 of a second. Behind them, almost two seconds off the pace, were Ferrari’s soon-to-be-departing Fernando Alonso and then the two Infiniti Red Bull Racing drivers Sebastian Vettel (Alonso's replacement) and Daniel Ricciardo.
With double points on offer in this final race, for Rosberg to win the title he’ll need to come first and Hamilton finish third or lower. However, considering Hamilton’s performance all season (he’s won 10 rounds versus Rosberg’s five), Rosberg is going to need nothing short of a miracle to come out on top.
Going into tomorrow’s qualifying session and Sunday’s eventual race, Lewis Hamilton sits on 334 points in the 2014 Drivers’ Championship, with Nico Rosberg on 317 and driver Daniel Ricciardo on 214. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes AMG has an unbeatable 651 while Red Bull has 373 and Williams 254.