Milan, October 28, 2013 – The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the only race of the year that starts in the late afternoon and ends in the twilight of the evening, providing the drivers and teams with a unique challenge and the audience with a breath-taking spectacle.
The tyres for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be the P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft: the same nomination that was made for India last weekend. The temperature range that the tyres will experience this weekend though is very different, as unlike most other races track temperature falls as the grand prix goes on in Abu Dhabi, rather than rises.
Paul Hembery: “The way that the track temperature falls in Abu Dhabi obviously has an effect on both wear and degradation, meaning that teams are able to do longer runs even on the softer compound later in the race. There are some important implications for strategy here, which means that it’s often possible to try something different in Abu Dhabi than you would in other places, which might well pay off at the end of the race. As a company, Abu Dhabi is a circuit that we know very well because it’s where we did some testing before we started in Formula One.
Jean Alesi: “Abu Dhabi is not a track I have raced on myself, so it’s hard to comment from a driver’s perspective, but it certainly looks spectacular to watch and it’s fantastic to see so much infrastructure invested in Formula One. The only negative impression I had of the circuit initially was that it seemed quite difficult to overtake on sometimes, but I think that this issue has been addressed now and it is also interesting these days to see how the drivers use strategy to gain track position. I’m sure that pit stops will be important this weekend in Abu Dhabi as well. This doesn’t look like a race that will be particularly hard on tyres, but the circumstances are a little bit different from usual, with the race taking place late in the afternoon, so it’s quite hard to predict what’s going to happen. I’ve had some experience of racing in the twilight and the dark from Le Mans and it’s really not easy, but I think it’s probably easier in a Formula One car than in an endurance car, as Formula One cars don’t have headlights. The headlights make it quite hard to judge perspectives – particularly if you’re being overtaken – so it’s better to just have lights on the circuit, like Singapore and Abu Dhabi.”
The circuit from a tyre point of view:
On average the track temperature drops by 15 degrees during the race, falling from around 45 degrees at the start to 30 degrees at the end: which is normally about the same as ambient temperature. This is the opposite to what is seen at most hot races taking place in the early afternoon, where track temperature tends to remain higher than ambient temperature.
A bit like Suzuka, the first part of the circuit essentially consists of a continuous series of bends, which subject the car to lateral acceleration forces of 4g. The tyres then have to deliver optimal performance down a long straight, with the cars on full throttle for around 15 seconds, which equates to a downforce loading of approximately 800 kilogrammes pushing down on all four wheels.
Traction is the key aspect to a strong performance at Yas Marina, as there are not so many high-speed corners. To help the drivers gain maximum traction, the engineers tend to set up the cars with quite a soft rear end, but this can lead to increased rear tyre wear. If the set-up is too stiff at the back the opposite problem can occur: excessive wheelspin, which also takes life out of the tyres.