The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix joined the Formula 1 calendar in 2009 and has settled into the final slot of the season. The Yas Marina Circuit brings a touch of Monaco glamour and Bahrain lights to the season finale.
It’s position at the end of the calendar means that sometimes the race has been a dead rubber for the championship, but sometimes it all comes down to this one race. In 2011 Sebastian Vettel took his maiden championship with an incredible drive here, while in 2016 Nico Rosberg claimed his only championship with a second place as Lewis Hamilton tried to back him into the pack.
Overtaking is tricky around Abu Dhabi’s tight final sector, but there are two superb spots to make passes after the DRS straights. Balancing performance between ultimate top speed and the ability to carry pace through that final sector is key to coming away from here with a win.
How should you set up your car for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?
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Like some other circuits with a massive back straight the temptation is to trim all the wing, but you can’t do that here. With track position important you need the wing angle to carry momentum through the first and third sectors in qualifying.
We have gone with a 4-6 wing angle. This keeps some bite on the front and stability on the rear without turning you into a boat on the straights.
This circuit is rear limited, so we can’t go all-out with the transmission settings.
We have gone with a 60% on-throttle differential, which unlocks the rear tyres and can be a lot kinder when we are accelerating on kerbing or while straddling the track limits line, which will happen a lot around this track.
The off-throttle differential is set at 80%. This keeps the rears relatively level once you get back on the power, but doesn’t drag through the corners as much.
With Abu Dhabi so rear-limited we can extract some performance from the fronts. You can’t go completely maxed out as overheating the front tyres can still happen and that is a quick way to ruin your stint.
Front camber is set to -2.70 with the rears at -1.30. Front toe is 0.06 and rear toe is 0.26. This pulls more time out of the tyres without exposing them too much.
The suspension settings are crucial in any setup. You have to take a lot of kerbing around the final sector of this lap, so having the soft suspension is important.
We have gone with the 1-1 setting that we’ve used elsewhere. This helps with tyre life, kerb riding, and generally makes the car more predictable under braking and acceleration.
The anti-roll bar settings dictate how much weight shifts when cornering. With a number of switchbacks and close corner complexes you want stiffer roll bars, but the long corners of the first sector will punish the tyres if they are too stiff. We have gone with a 6-7 setting here almost as a compromise, but that stiffer rear keeps it responsive when you change direction.
Ride height is set to 3-4. The rake this creates keeps the front pointy and makes the car slippy in a straight line. You are riding kerbs here but they aren’t too harsh, just make sure you keep the away from the orange sausage kerbs.
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There are some big stops around this lap, but there are also plenty of moments where you need just a quick squeeze of the brake, which means you have to compromise a little. We have gone with a brake pressure of 85% to cope with both these needs.
Brake bias is set to 55%. This retains responsiveness on the front end, and can be shifted forward during the race if you need a little extra bite on the brakes to make a pass.
Tyre pressure can directly impact tyre temperature and wear. We have left the fronts at 23.0 psi as this keeps them on rails without overexposing them to overheating.
The rears are moved down to 21.1 psi to aid traction and help spread out the heat generated from the big acceleration zones.
So that’s our setup for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. This provides a lot of consistency along with impressive one-lap pace. You can’t stretch this race into a one-stop comfortably, so the tyre wear is not too crucial. As a result you can push hard and move your way through the pack.
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