McLaren's Abu Dhabi preview

Yas Marina is one of the most advanced racetracks in the world. Constructed on a man-made island on the eastern side of Abu Dhabi, the 5.554km/3.451-mile track has three unique features: a pitlane exit that passes underneath Turn One, air-conditioned pit garages and the largest permanent lighting system in the world.
 
The track has hosted the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since 2009, during which time the race has always been run in twilight conditions. It starts in daylight at 17:00 (local) and ends after sunset, the night skies being lit up by spotlights that are more powerful than any in a conventional stadium.
 
The day-night nature of the race presents an interesting technical challenge for the teams because the track temperature drops by as much as 15 degrees when darkness falls. That has a big effect on the performance of the tyres, even though Pirelli takes its two softest compounds, the Soft (Prime) and the Supersoft (Option), to the race. The car balance shifts as the track cools and drivers have to improvise as the race progresses.
 
The track is one of only four circuits on the 2015 calendar that runs in an anti-clockwise direction and it’s relatively slow, with an average speed of just 200km/h (124mph). Six of the 21 corners around the lap are taken at less than 100km/h (62mph), of which only Monaco and the Marina Bay circuit in Singapore have more, and there is only one high-speed corner: Turn Two, which is taken at 260km/h (162 mph).
 
As with many Hermann Tilke-designed tracks, the circuit has three distinct sectors. Sector one contains the fastest corners on the lap; sector two is made up of two long straights; sector three has more of a street circuit feel, with some tight corners. As a result, car set-up is a compromise between aerodynamic grip and straight-line speed.
 
McLaren has a good record in Abu Dhabi: it’s one of only four teams to have won the race and it has taken two pole positions around Yas Marina. Both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button have finished on the podium on numerous occasions.

Fernando Alonso
“Abu Dhabi is a race I enjoy and, once again, we’ll give it everything to get the maximum result possible to end the season. The configuration of the track won’t necessarily suit our package, but everything we learn now will make us stronger in the future.”

Jenson Button
“The number of slow and medium-speed corners at Yas Marina means it’s quite a technical racetrack. To be quick you have to be very precise and you mustn’t overdrive the car. This will be another hard race for the team, but we’ll aim to end the year in the best possible way.”

It's all about: the race
Start time
Race distance
2014 winner
2014 pole position
2014 fastest lap
Safety Car likelihood
Weather forecast

It's all about: the track
First race
Circuit length
Run to Turn One
Longest straight
Top speed
DRS zones
Pitlane length
Major changes for 2015

It's all about: the car
Fuel consumption
Full throttle
Brake wear

Gear changes


1700 (local) / 1300 (GMT)
51 laps
Lewis Hamilton 55 laps in 1:39m02.619
Nico Rosberg 1m40.480 198.988km/h (123.645mph)
Daniel Ricciardo lap 50 1m44.496 191.341km/h (118.894mph)
Low. Statistically, there’s a 40% chance of a Safety Car
Hot – we’re in the desert after all. But this is a twilight race and temperatures drop as the race progresses

2009
5.554km (3.451 miles)
300m (0.186 miles)
1,200m (0.746 miles), on the approach to Turn Eight
325km/h (202mph) on the approach to Turn Eight
Two – on the approach to Turns 8 and 11
360 metres (0.224 miles)
None


1.8kg per lap, which is on the medium-to-high side
60% of the lap.
High. There are 13 braking events around the lap, the hardest of which is into Turn Eight, where forces peak at 5.09g
68 per lap/3,740 per race

 

Eric Boullier, Racing director, McLaren-Honda
“The last race of the season always offers an incredibly unique and exciting atmosphere. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the season that has passed, enjoy the last racing weekend of the year, and turn our attention to the new chapter to come. Yas Marina is a hugely impressive facility and a superb venue to go racing at, and its twilight backdrop is a fitting way to end the season. We’ll go there on the back of a challenging year, there’s no doubt about that, but with the determination to finish the season on a high and provide the ever-enthusiastic fans with a fantastic weekend of racing. 

Although it is the last race of the season, our development has not stopped, and we are still bringing new parts and design elements to the car for the final grand prix. Our development is constant and we place huge importance on learning at every opportunity. All of our efforts this weekend will be beneficial to next year’s car, and it’s essential that we maximise the final sessions of the year, not only to end the season on a high, but to use the invaluable information we can glean from them and channel it into tangible progress over the winter period.
 
It’s important to thank each and every member of the McLaren-Honda team: those on the road, at the McLaren Technology Centre, in Sakura and in Milton Keynes, for their hard work, enthusiasm and dedication all year. Our energy and commitment will continue relentlessly over the winter, with our shared goal firmly in our minds: to win. Equally, thank you to our Partners, both longstanding and new, who understand our vision and the immense work going on behind the scenes to assure us of more positive results to come.
 
Last but certainly not least, I’d like to express huge gratitude to our loyal fans, who have demonstrated unwavering support through challenging times, and share our optimism for a successful future ahead. We look forward to an exciting weekend against the stunning scenery of Yas Marina, and the start of an exciting next phase for McLaren-Honda.”

Yasuhisa Arai, Honda R&D senior managing officer - chief officer of motorsport
“So much has happened since McLaren-Honda's new beginnings here in Abu Dhabi last year. We have come a long way since that first test, and although we have had a difficult and eventful season in 2015, the team is as united as ever.  The amount of changes that have gone into both the car and the power units this year with such speed has been incredible. Both Woking and Sakura have been working tirelessly throughout the year, and together with the drivers, their bond has become stronger as the season progressed. I am thankful for all their hard work, and encouraged by their enthusiasm to improve further over the winter. Yas Marina Circuit is an entertaining event that is fitting for the final battle of the season. Our focus will be to end the season giving it our all, and to continue making improvements.”

© McLaren