Pirelli: The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from a tyre point of view
By Berthold Bouman
Pirelli has nominated the Medium (Prime, white marked) and Soft (Option, yellow marked) rubber compounds for round 18 of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Yas Marina circuit has a smooth and fast surface, and has a wide variety of corners, taken at different speeds.
Pirelli expects the tyre wear to be low, and therefore drivers can push harder without damaging their tyres. One of the main peculiarities of the track is that the race starts when it is still light, and finishes in the dark, which means track temperatures will fall instead of rise.
Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery has fond memories of the track, as it was the track where Pirelli tested their Formula One tyres for the first time back in 2010. “In 2010, the teams sampled our tyres there for the very first time at the official end of season test following the Grand Prix. That was a very special test, as we were brand new and the teams needed to understand our tyres. We’ve returned to test in Abu Dhabi a few times since, and we actually launched our 2012 programme to the international media there as well at the beginning of this year,” explained Hembery.
About the race strategies this weekend he said, “We know that the combination of the medium and the soft tyre works extremely well here, and with the teams also having plenty of data about the circuit characteristics, they should be in a strong position to construct some race strategies that will make a real difference to the outcome of the weekend. With the championship so closely balanced now, having the right strategy could quite literally decide the title.”
Pirelli technical tyre notes:
Abu Dhabi, like many circuits, requires a medium-downforce set-up to guarantee good straight-line speed down the long main straight, which is more than one kilometre, but also enough downforce to provide enough braking stability and aerodynamic grip through the corners.
There are comparatively few high-speed changes of direction, so in order to help traction, one of the key demands that the tyres face on the Yas Marina circuit, the engineers tend to set up their cars with a comparatively soft rear end. At the start of the weekend the dust on the track surface can cause graining, and there is quite a high degree of track evolution.
Abu Dhabi is located at sea level, ensuring a high ambient air pressure. This benefits engine power, which increases further as temperatures fall towards the end of the race. This too has a significant effect on tyre wear and strategy.
Abu Dhabi 3D Track Experience – Video by Pirelli