F1 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton battles for pole position

PUBLISHED: 08:11 28 November 2015 | UPDATED: 14:57 29 November 2015

Lewis Hamilton after qualifying for the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Lewis Hamilton after qualifying for the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Mercedes-Benz

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton battles for pole position in qualifying for the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix today (Saturday).

The 2015 Formula One World Championship season concludes with Round 19 from Yas Island – with Mercedes driver Hamilton aiming to go out on a high.

The Hertfordshire-born F1 star won the season finale last year to clinch the world championship for a second time, and he will be out to claim pole position in qualifying this afternoon.

Hamilton and Silver Arrows team-mate Nico Rosberg topped Friday’s two practice sessions, Lewis going fastest in FP1 and Nico in FP2.

After second practice Hamilton said: “I’ll probably make some more tweaks tonight [Friday] and hopefully tomorrow [Saturday] it will be better.

Did you know?

The granite used to build the Yas Marina circuit was imported from Shropshire in the United Kingdom.

“It’s very hard to overtake here, so of course it’s better to be up on pole. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to win from further back.”

Yas Marina is one of the most advanced race tracks in the world.

Three-time world champion Hamilton said: “The Yas Marina really is a stunning place to hold the season-ending Grand Prix.

“The organisers clearly spent a lot of time and effort on designing the most spectacular venue imaginable and the track is one I really enjoy driving.

Abu Dhabi facts & stats: The car

* Fuel consumption: 1.8kg per lap, which is on the medium-to-high side

* Full throttle: 60 per cent

* Brake wear: High. There are 13 braking events around the lap, the hardest of which is into Turn Eight, where forces peak at 5.09g

* Gear changes: 68 per lap/3,740 per race

“It’s actually a really challenging circuit. There are a couple of high-speed corners but it’s mostly medium to low-speed, so despite the long straights you need to set the car up with a downforce level tuned for low speed grip.

“It’s also a twilight race, starting late afternoon and running into the night, which is quite unusual and I imagine must be pretty cool to watch on TV.”

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.

Abu Dhabi facts & stats: The track

* First race: 2009

* Circuit length: 5.554km (3.451 miles)

* Run to Turn One: 300m (0.186 miles)

* Longest straight: 1,200m (0.746 miles), on the approach to Turn Eight

* Top speed: 325km/h (202mph) on the approach to Turn Eight

* DRS zones: Two – on the approach to Turn Eight and again on the approach to Turn 11

* Key corner: Turn Seven, the left-hand hairpin that precedes the longest straight on the circuit. The DRS detection zone is at corner entry, so it’s important to remain close to the car in front while also getting good traction out of the corner

* Pitlane length: 360 metres (0.224 miles)

* Major changes for 2015: None

It starts in daylight at 5pm (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.

The car balance shifts as the track cools and drivers have to improvise as the race progresses.

Abu Dhabi facts & stats: The race

* Start time: 1700 (local) / 1300 (GMT)

* Race distance: 51 laps (full world championship points awarded after 75 per cent distance/41 laps)

* 2014 winner: Lewis Hamilton 55 laps in 1:39m02.619

* 2014 pole position: Nico Rosberg 1m40.480 198.988km/h (123.645mph)

* 2014 fastest lap: Daniel Ricciardo lap 50 1m44.496 191.341km/h (118.894mph)

* Safety Car likelihood: Low. Statistically, there’s a 40 per cent chance of a Safety Car and while there wasn’t an SC period last year, there were three in the five years prior to that

* Don’t put the kettle on... On laps 12 or 32. Overtaking is difficult, so a lot of ground can be won and lost at the start. Once we get into the race, expect a two-stop strategy from most cars, which means pitting on or around laps 12 and 32

* Weather forecast: Hot – we’re in the desert after all. But this is a twilight race and temperatures drop 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, while 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.

On racing around the Yas Marina circuit, Stevenage-born Hamilton, 30, said: “For Turn One you need to make sure you get the car all the way over to the right-hand side of the track, braking just before the 100m sign and powering flat-out through the exit and uphill through Turn Two.

“You’re then into the long right-hander of Turn Three, which is seriously fast and just seems to keep going and going.

“That then switches straight into the slight left-hand kink of Turn Four, dropping you down the other side of the hill and into the stadium complex.”

Hamilton continued: “The Turn Five / Six chicane is really tight and very low grip, as is the Turn Seven hairpin which follows immediately afterwards.

“You have to take a really wide entry to this corner and it’s absolutely crucial to carry as much speed as possible, due to the mega long DRS straight which begins on exit.

“You brake really late into the first part of the Turn Eight / Nine chicane and it’s so easy to lock either the rears or the fronts.

“You have to take a really tight line to the first apex so that you can carry as much speed as possible through the second and down another DRS straight, which features the slight kind of Turn Ten.

“This is another prime overtaking opportunity.”

Completing a lap, he added: “The Turn 10 / 11 / 13 combination is very low speed and the car is skating around all the time through here.

“You can brake late for the next left-hander at Turn 14 but, once again, hitting the apex is important as it’s so easy to run wide and ruin your exit.

“It’s flat out through the double right of Turns 15 / 16 and you have to get the steering straight as early as possible for braking into Turn 17 as it’s easy to lock the right front.

“You can carry quite a lot of speed through the two left handers of Turns 18 / 19, taking a lot of kerb and running wide on the exit of 18 in particular, before a short blast down the straight into Turn 20.

“You have to brake just a little bit into here, carrying as much speed as possible before backing right off for the final corner – using all of the run off as you head down across the start / finish line to complete the lap.”


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