For the first time since 1974, the title contenders, Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, head to the last race of the season tied in points, so during this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix history is being made. And as the track is modified, there is currently no record in this new Yas Marina circuit layout. Laps are a little bit shorter (at 5.281 km), making this 58-lap race a total of 306.183km title-deciding fight.
Both Red Bull drivers were enthusiastic to try out the new circuit layout, so were one of the first ones out on soft tyres. Both free practice sessions were good for both drivers, who managed to get P4 for Max and P5 for Sergio. The two drivers state that even though it is a fun and fast circuit, especially on turns, there is still room for learning about the circuit ahead of Sunday’s race.
“I like the new track layout, it’s more fun to drive with the faster corners especially in the last sector. We made a few changes to the set up across the two sessions and I do think they are positive,” the Dutch title contender said.
“We are still learning and understanding a few things. The short run didn’t go to plan, we are lacking a bit of pace but I think the long runs were more competitive so that’s important. I’m looking forward to qualifying tomorrow to put it all together.”
Checo agreed with his teammate, saying that they have some work to do to improve for qualifying and have a great start on Sunday.
"I don’t know how much the track has improved since last year. It’s still nice to drive but there are question marks for me on whether it has improved the racing. I think we have some work to do overnight after today’s sessions,” expressed the Mexican about the track modifications.
“We ran very different set-ups across the two cars, so we've got plenty of information that we need to go through in detail and pick out the best parts for qualifying. There will be learnings to take forward into our final practice session so we can look to qualify strongly on Saturday.”