The Sakhir Grand Prix, held a weekend ago, at the Bahrain International Circuit saw a surprise podium. Amid the trouble at Mercedes, alongside the retirement of Max Verstappen on Lap 1, Sergio Perez & Racing Point emerged victorious, with Esteban Ocon in 2nd for Renault, alongside 3rd for his Perez’s teammate Lance Stroll.
This weekend, we find ourselves at the Yas Marina Circuit, located in Sakhir, Bahrain, for the final race of the season. Max Verstappen starts from Pole, with Valtteri Bottas behind him in second.
The Circuit – Yas Marina Circuit
This weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be held on the Grand Prix Circuit of the Yas Marina Circuit. It is a permanent race track, located on Yas Island, in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi. Construction commenced in 2007, and ended in 2009.
The track features 4 configurations, alongside a Drag Strip and a karting circuit, which are located on the outside of the track.
The layouts are as follows:
– Grand Prix Circuit (5.554 km, 21 Turns)
– Grand Prix Corkscrew (4.73 km, 20 Turns)
– North Circuit (3.15 km, 10 Turns)
– North Corkscrew (2.298 km, 10 Turns)
– South Circuit (2.35km, 13 Turns)
As of the time of writing, only the Grand Prix Circuit and Grand Prix Corkscrew are FIA Homologated. The Grand Prix Circuit is FIA Grade 1 certified, while the GP Corkscrew is Grade 2 certified.
The Battle for 3rd in the Constructors
Ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the close fight for 3rd in the Constructors Championship is going to come to a head. Currently, 3 teams are vying for 3rd in the Constructors Championship. Racing Point, McLaren, & Renault. Racing Point currently sits 3rd, with 194 points inclusive of 15 deducted points, followed by McLaren with 184 points. Renault sit further behind, with 172 points.
A total of 22 points separates the 3 teams, meaning that if the trailing teams are to score a good result at Bahrain with both cars in the top 6, they could realistically leapfrog up the standings.
Lewis Hamilton: How will he perform on his return?
Following his absence due to COVID at the Sakhir Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton returns to F1 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. While his return has been celebrated by many, questions remain about his fitness. Hamilton himself has admitted that he is not in full health.
Yesterday, he said the following to the media:
“It’s a nasty virus. I’m not 100%, I still have some feeling within my lungs. But nonetheless, normally I would drive even if one of my arms was hanging off, that’s what we do as racing drivers and luckily that’s not the case.”
And to Sky Sports, he had this to say:
“Today was definitely hard. Actually I think both yesterday and today have been the hardest days I’ve probably had in the car this year.
“But I gave it everything I could. It was just not the perfect laps and not the usual me. I think I struggled with the car but it was close between us all.
“It’s not miles off at least. There’s work to do for tomorrow but lots of opportunity.”
With the following statements from Hamilton, it can be inferred that the next 55 laps of Yas Marina will surely be the toughest laps he’s ever run. Will he be able to maintain peak performance for all 55 laps? That remains to be seen..
Alex Albon: Can he keep his seat?
Ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix, Alex Albon had been on a streak of poor performances following his Tuscany Grand Prix podium. During the Eifel Grand Prix, Albon started the race in 5th, before the race began to unfound around him. A lockup on Lap 1 left him with a flat-spotted tyre, compromising his race strategy, and leaving him plummeting down the order. Later on, a clumsy overtake on Daniil Kvyat saw him rip the Russian’s front wing, resulting in a 5 second time penalty for the Anglo-Thai Driver. Albon would wind up retiring from a punctured radiator.
Portugal was no different. Starting from 6th, he plummeted down the order to 12th. Neither was the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. Starting from 6th, outqualfied by the Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly, he spun on his own accord while in 5th, finishing far down the order in 15th.
Turkey was perhaps a turning point for Albon. From the outset, Albon was on the pace, finishing in the top 6 for each FP session, including 2nd in FP1, and 3rd in FP3. He then qualified in 4th, before going onto finish 7th in the tricky conditions, just behind teammate Verstappen.
Albon followed up his Turkey performance with an excellent drive in the Bahrain Grand Prix, to finish 3rd, profiting from Sergio Perez’s late retirement in the race. This came after a relatively solid performance in most of the sessions across the weekend, bar FP2, where he had a hard crash.
However, Albon followed up the podium with a dismal performance at Sakhir. He was eliminated in Q2 after struggling on softs, finishing 6th after the drama at Mercedes. Abu Dhabi has been a disappointment thus far as well, with him qualifying 5th behind the McLaren of Lando Norris.
To keep his seat, a strong performance to reach the podium is absolutely vital. Especially when the chief rival for his seat just snagged up a win in an “inferior” car last week, while Albon had been struggling.
Can Sergio Perez & Kevin Magnussen end their F1 careers on a high?
For today’s race, Perez will be starting from the back of the grid, alongside Kevin Magnussen after both drivers exceeded their PU component allocation. However, both drivers look set to have different fates in the race and in the near future. Of the 2 drivers, Magnussen has his near-future settled, in the form of a drive in IMSA with Chip Ganassi Racing. For Perez, his future is clouded in mystery. Perez has been tipped to replace Alex Albon at Red Bull on several occasions, but no progress appears to have been made on that end with Red Bull. Otherwise, he has said that he will take a sabbatical from racing altogether in 2021.
Things will also play out differently for both drivers in the race. For Perez, a dignified exit from F1 after this race is a near-absolute certainty, with a respectable points finish. For Magnussen, this is unlikely at best, or more realistically, near impossible. With the difficult VF-20 and the underpowered Ferrari engine at the back, it will be a miracle to see Magnussen haul the Haas into the points. Especially given the nature of Yas Marina with the 3 long straights demanding much horsepower.