There are changes in the final two sectors of the circuit beginning with the reprofiled Turn 5 hairpin, doing away with the chicane that preceded it. The apex has been moved away from the grandstands and could lead to a new overtaking point on the circuit following the end of sector one.
The old three-part chicane at the beginning of sector three has been done away with in favour of a new Turn 9 hairpin. With a positive camber left-hander coming at the end of the second DRS zone, there is sure to be some overtaking action into there during Sunday’s race.
“It’s fantastically quick, it’s at the end of the DRS zone so I think if people are taking a bit of a chance and trying to get past one another, it’s going to separate the men from the boys, you’re going to see who’s brave,” Managing director of Mrk1 Consulting, Mark Hughes told Motor Sport.
Finally, Turns 12, 13, 14 and 15 have been opened up in order to allow the cars to follow one another better than in previous years.
Yas Marina officials hope that the changes will lead to an exciting finale that has sometimes been let down by a lack of on-track action.
Send off to the fastest F1 cars in history
The 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will mark the end of the current generation of Formula 1 cars.
While the power units will be remaining the same for the upcoming few seasons, next year’s cars will look very different to the ones that line up on the grid in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
Since 2017, F1 engineers have pushed the limits with what is possible in terms of outright performance. Some of the all-time lap records have fallen to this generation of cars and they have produced some incredible qualifying laps over the years.
Though they look wider and much longer than many of the cars of old, the 2017-2021 car has set records and been involved in some of the fastest laps and races ever seen in the history of Formula 1.
As speeds climbed and climbed, the cars were pegged back this year via a reduction in the floor ahead of the rear tyres though it has set them back only slightly, nothing like the few seconds originally envisaged when the changes were agreed upon.
Designed after Bernie Ecclestone said F1 cars should be quicker, engineers certainly accomplished that aim. Can next year’s cars generate the same incredible speeds when the series returns to ground effect?
One lap vs race pace
There has been a familiar theme since the Mexico Grand Prix at the front of the field as Red Bull and Mercedes fight for supremacy.
In Mexico City, Mercedes was the team to opt for one-lap pace over a race setup in order to gain track position over favourites Red Bull and the first step of the plan worked perfectly. It locked out the front row but that plan was immediately foiled by Turn 1 after Verstappen swept into the lead of the race and never looked back.
Since then, Red Bull has been the ones opting for a quicker lap on Saturday at the expense of overheating tyres on Sunday.
In Brazil, Verstappen was leading comfortably until a rapid Hamilton reached him to challenge and eventually steal away the win while in Qatar, Red Bull never got the chance to be ahead on the road, unable to protect a lead it never had after the Mercedes driver scampered away from pole to win.
Last weekend in Saudi Arabia, it compromised its race in order to secure track position over Hamilton and it looked like the plan was falling into place perfectly with Verstappen 0.4sec up on his personal best and set for pole.
A costly crash at the final corner though put his weekend on a path he couldn’t recover from, and now he heads into the finale level on points and to a circuit with two sectors dominated by straights and a rear-limited twisty final sector.
Red Bull should be better around the track it dominated during the 2020 finale, albeit on a now defunct layout.
Will the team opt for track position and attempt to hold off Hamilton again? Or has Jeddah prompted a change in tactics and a focus on the race day package?
Max Verstappen: 369.5pts. Lewis Hamilton: 369.5pts.
Back to square one between the championship protagonists and it’s as we were 9 months ago in Bahrain with nothing to separate them.
While the scores are level, Verstappen technically leads the way by virtue of more race victories than his rival: nine wins to Hamilton’s eight. That factor could play a pivotal role in the championship decider if the pair fail to score, which is by no means out of the realms of possibility.
The Dutchman has seen his 19-point advantage evaporate over the previous three races after looking comfortable out in front. Since then, he has been driving on the aggressive side of things and leaving Hamilton with no choice but to concede in wheel-to-wheel battle.
In Brazil and Saudi Arabia, the Red Bull man has come under fire for his tactics and apparent willingness to put his rival in harms way when the two are on track together. Late-braking dives have forced Hamilton off on multiple occasions with the Mercedes driver always keeping the bigger picture in mind: any DNF and his title hopes are over.
Things have been civil between the pair all year despite the contentious moments but any good will appears to be out of the window after the controversial Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Verstappen’s driving earned him 15-seconds total of penalties as Hamilton survived to secure a crucial win. So who is the favourite heading into the finale? Verstappen holds a technical advantage but the momentum is unquestionably on the side of Hamilton.
Who will be the 2021 Formula 1 world champion?