The 2017 Formula 1 World Championship concludes with this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
There were high hopes going into the 2017 season that the top teams would be more competitive. And in the first half there were plenty of great battles as Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes-AMG’s Lewis Hamilton often traded places at the top of the Drivers’ Championship. However, Ferrari’s form unraveled after the summer break, with the team plagued by reliability issues and Vettel making some real blunders.
Ultimately, Hamilton went on to claim his fourth title, making him the most successful British driver in F1 history.
The final race of the season is being held at the modern Yas Marina Circuit, which features air-conditioned pit garages and the largest permanent lighting system in the world.
Fans still tuning in or actually attending the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix can look forward to the spectacle of a twilight race, where the lights turn green during daylight and the checkered flag is waved at night. This leads to falling track and air temperatures over the course of the race, which in turn means the pace tends to get faster as the day goes on, a phenomenon that's accentuated by falling fuel loads.
The track layout consists of 21 turns and three distinct sections that each put different demands on the car. The first corner is the start of a flowing sequence of bends, where 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 and really works the tires.
A smooth track surface has led to Pirelli nominating its softest compounds in the range: soft, supersoft and ultrasoft. And looking at the weather forecast, we should be in for fine conditions throughout the weekend. The temperature will peak at 82 degrees (28 degrees C).
Going into Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s race, Hamilton’s points tally in the 2017 Drivers’ Championship stands at 345 points. Vettel is second with 302 points and Hamilton's teammate, Valtteri Bottas, is third with 280 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes has 625 points followed by Ferrari with 495 and Red Bull with 358. Last year’s winner in Abu Dhabi was Nico Rosberg. The race is where he claimed his world title.
In other F1 news, Pirelli has announced that it is introducing two new tire compounds for next season: superhard and hypersoft. This will provide teams with harder and softer compounds than what’s currently available, bringing the number of compounds to seven in total. Pirelli said it made the decision to address criticism that this season’s compounds were perhaps too conservative.