Alex Yoong previews the Abu Dhabi GP

Alex Yoong Alex Yoong

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has been the last race on the Formula One calendar for the last four years and it’s grown into quite an event.

So much so that it’s hard to imagine the season finishing anywhere else now. It’s certainly spectacular visually as the race is set in the evening, where it starts in daylight, but ends at night, under the glare of lights overhanging the circuit. As far as facilities go, there is no venue better and even the circuit hotel is impressive as it overhangs the racetrack in sector three. There’s plenty of sparkle too from the yachts in the marina to the celebrities who come out in force for this, the last race of the season.

It’s split up into three distinct parts. The first sector is reasonably flowing with turns two and three being high speed. Sector two is all about straight-line speed and horsepower. There are two long straights (each a kilometer long) separated by a slow chicane and it’s here you’ll see most of the overtaking. Sector three is twisty and windy and it’s very important for lap time due to the many corners crammed into it. You set the car up for here mostly and the drivers that crack this sector will be the ones near the front of the grid.

As far as the year’s championship goes, it’s all pretty much done and dusted. The only thing really worth watching out for will be the battle between Torro Rosso and Renault for 6th place in the constructor’s championship with only four points separating them. Their recent spat in the press will heighten the tension between them and I’m expecting sparks if their drivers get together.

There is also the fight for second in the driver’s table between Sebastian Vettel and Vatteri Bottas but basically it would take a retirement from Vettel for him to lose the runner up spot.

The battle for second place is not over.

What makes this race interesting is that the form here will be a good indicator for 2018. The regulations will be fairly unchanged for next year and teams are looking to bring updates for this race with an eye on next year. Any improvements from one or two of the teams this weekend will be promising for next year. It’s really almost like an extended test session as well as a race weekend.

The big news going this week was whether Williams had signed Robert Kubica for next year to replace Felipe Massa. He’s certainly a favourite for the romantics and imagine if he could come back with the same speed as he had before his accident? That would be something.

Personally I have some doubts on whether he could be competitive in a current F1 car and I’d rather have Kubica in the car this weekend instead of Massa. We’d then have a good idea of his potential now instead of waiting for next year. Or if he didn’t get chosen then we’d at least be spared the agony of wondering forever if he could’ve come back competitive.

Whichever way we look at it, it’s the last race of the season, the last time we’ll see such magnificent cars and drivers driving in anger till March next year. So for us F1 fans it’s going to be an absorbing watch in Abu Dhabi this weekend.