Today is the day! At 13:00 GMT the lights will go out one last time for the 2021 season. Every lap, every turn, every choice might determine who will be crowned the next Formula 1 World Champion. Let’s find out more about the race we’re waiting for!
The final race of 2021 will take place as per tradition at the Yas Marina Circuit, created in 2009 by Hermann Tilke. Drivers will have 58 laps to fight for the glory for a total of 306.183 km. In the past years, Abu Dhabi has been often recriminated as being a boring race due to a track where overtaking was almost impossible.
Hence, Yas Marina is looking different in 2021. The track had some layout changes to enhance exciting racing and create more speed for the drivers. The newly restructured turn 7 is supposed to increase overtaking possibilities while the banked corner and final turns should create a faster pace.
In Abu Dhabi, some clouds are expected. The temperature will be between 25C° and 24C° with a 1% possibility of precipitation. Humidity at 59%, wind at 18km/h.
Pirelli has selected the same tyres as in 2020 for Abu Dhabi: C3, C4, C5.
According to Pirelli, a one-stopper is the way to go, although the presence of a safety car might create the possibility for a two-stopper. Tyres’ pressures have been increased by 1.5 psi (front) and 1 psi (rear) due to the aggressive curbs, especially at turn 5 and 9.
Max Verstappen will start from pole position on soft tyres, which will supposedly help him in obtaining a more aggressive start and possibly build a gap. On the other side, Lewis Hamilton will start from second on medium tyres, which will be more flexible regarding strategy. However, according to Pirelli, both strategies (soft to hard – medium to hard) are similar, quick, and doable.
Pirelli Head of Racing Mario Isola declared on Pirelli press release: “We’ve seen a mixture of tactics, with the two title protagonists starting on different compounds and set to follow different strategies at the championship decider tomorrow. On paper, a one-stopper using the hard for the second stint is the fastest way. In theory, the soft should give a slight advantage off the line but the medium-hard combination should be a slightly faster option overall. If Max Verstappen manages to keep the lead off the grid, he can run in free air and reduce overheating by maintaining a consistent load through the tyres. We’re expecting a tactically intriguing race, where tyre management will definitely be a factor.”
The starting grid
The start will see Max Verstappen on pole position after yesterday’s brilliant strategy from Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton from second will have to be incredibly careful in avoiding any lap 1 accidents, especially considering that behind him Sergio Perez on red tyres will try his all at the start to create difficulties for the Brit.
Lando Norris conquered a surprising P3 in qualifying. The McLaren driver is still fighting with Charles Leclerc for P5 in the Drivers’ Championship and Abu Dhabi will play, once again, a crucial role.
Although Mercedes’ lead in the Constructors’ Standings is interesting (+28), nothing is certain yet. In particular with Valtteri Bottas struggling in sixth, Red Bull will have the chance to fight on two sides.
More comfortable is the lead of Ferrari on McLaren for P3 in the Standings (+38,5) and Alpine’s lead on AlphaTauri for P5 (+29).
The Drivers’ Championship
This is where everything is still completely uncertain. Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton are tied on points (369,5). The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be crucial, without much maths to do but only track position. However, in the case of a double DNF from the title contenders, Max Verstappen will have the upper hand due to the number of victories in 2021 (9).
Down the grid, Charles Leclerc (158) is still battling with Lando Norris (154) for P5 in the Drivers’ Standings and the title of best of the rest. With the McLaren driver starting P3 and the Monegasque only P7, there will be chances for a fight until the end.
Another interesting battle will be internal at Alpine between Fernando Alonso (77) and Esteban Ocon (72). The duo is challenging for P10 in the Drivers’ Championship and the glory within the team.
Where and When
The race is set for 13:00 GMT and will be broadcast in the United Kingdom on Sky Sports F1 as well as Channel 4. Moreover, FormulaNerds will be here, as always, to tell you all about the race and the latest news on the Championship.
History, one way or another, will be made at 13 on the turbo-hybrid era and we can’t wait to see it. Hoping to see fair and on the limit racing from two talents who have given us some incredible entertainment this year, may the best man win under the chequered flag.
Headline Image: Red Bull Content Pool
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