Abu Dhabi GP: the sunset over the 2017 season
The 20th and final round of this Formula 1 season, where many teams involved are equipped by BMC, is scheduled for November 24-26 at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
The track is on the man-made island of the same name, the first part is very fast with two straights where the DRS is used. Then, beginning from turn 11, the number of tight turns increases, keeping the cars from reaching 186 mph on the rest of the track.
The race begins at 5 pm in daylight, but when the sun sets half an hour later, the last hour is contested under artificial lighting. This dramatic shift translates into what can be a 27°F drop in temperature, which reduces the grip and results in unstable braking performance.
The demand on the brakes during the GP
In the first half hour of racing under the boiling hot sun, grip is high as is the temperature of the braking system. This can cause thermal discharge problems and wear down the friction material.
According to Brembo technicians, who have classified the 20 tracks in the World Championship on a scale of 1 to 10, Yas Marina Circuit is one of the world's most demanding tracks on the brakes. The Arab track earned a 10 on the difficulty index, the same score given to the circuits in Montreal, Mexico City and Singapore.
Even though there are 21 corners, the drivers only use their brakes 11 times each lap. Only the city tracks in Singapore and Monaco have more braking points, 15 and 12 respectively. The brakes are used for a total of 18.5 seconds each lap, which equals 17 minutes over the course of the whole race, 19% of the GP.
The average peak deceleration per lap is 3.8 G, but taking into account just the first 11 corners, the average exceeds 4 G, a figure that is not reached on any of the other turns. The energy dissipated during braking in the whole GP from each single-seater is 178 kWh, which is quite similar to the Bahrain GP.
From the starting line to the checkered flag, each driver exerts a total load of 63 metric tons on the brake pedal. On the single lap though, the load exceeds 11 tons.
The most demanding braking sections
Of the 11 braking sections at Yas Marina Circuit, three are classified by Brembo technicians as very demanding on the brakes, five are of medium difficulty and three are light.
Preceded by the almost 0.75-mile long straight, the most challenging braking section is turn 8: The single-seaters arrive at it going 204 mph and then brake for 2.79 seconds to slow to 45 mph. They manage to do this in 80 yards by applying a load of 278 lbs on the brake pedal and undergoing a deceleration of 4.7 G.
Another challenging corner comes after the second sector where the DRS can be activated, turn 11: The drivers need just 71 yards and 2.53 seconds because they arrive going slightly less fast (198 mph) and enter the corner going a bit faster (52 mph). But the load on the brake pedal and the deceleration are identical.
The third most important corner in terms of time and space is turn 14, where the single-seaters go from 176 mph to 56 mph: They need 2.47 seconds and 60 yards, but the intensity of the force on the drivers is lower than at turn 5. This last turn requires a deceleration of 4.7 G and a 278-pound load on the brake pedal, despite a reduction in speed of "just" 104 mph, from 183 mph to 80 mph.
The point of view of the tyres
The final round of this Formula 1 season features the three softest tyres in Pirelli’s 2017 range – soft, supersoft and ultrasoft – before a two-day test on Tuesday and Wednesday after the grand prix gives all the teams their first taste of 2018 tyres.
The Yas Marina circuit is characterised by smooth asphalt, warm weather and a wide mix of corners, all of which have made it a popular venue for testing in the past. This year’s tyre nomination is unaltered compared to last season, but with higher cornering speeds thanks to the latest regulations and wider tyres, there is still a good chance that another all-time lap record will be broken this weekend.
The analysis of…
Mario Isola - Head of car racing
“The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tends to be a reasonably straightforward race held in consistent conditions, although with an unusual race format, as the start takes place in the afternoon and the finish is in the evening. This race is also important for next year as well: on Thursday, we will present the full range of 2018 Formula 1 tyres on the paddock, which the teams will then get the chance to test for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday after the grand prix. The only exception is the intermediate and wet tyre: Abu Dhabi has never yet produced a wet race, so we’re going to have to wait until next year to see those in action”.
Info and curiosities
20.0 psi(1.378 bar) minimum starting pressures (front slick)
19.0 psi(1.31 bar) minimum starting pressures (rear slicks)
–3.50° camber limit (front)
–2.00° camber limit (rear)
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