Renault Sport F1 Preview to the Abu Dhabi GP
Yas Marina from an engine side
The FIA Formula One World Championship remains in Asia for the second event in a double header this weekend. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix takes place at the state-of-the-art Yas Marina circuit, a 5.554.km track that winds its way round the marina of the same name in a series of low to medium speed bends before passing underneath the distinctive Yas Hotel.
Renault engines have a strong history at the track, having achieved two thirds of the fastest laps, pole positions and wins at the Grands Prix held at the track.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix facts and figures
The power sensitivity of the Yas Marina track is reasonably high on account of the two long straights. Approximately 55% of the track is spent at full throttle, with average speeds of 190kph, similar to the demands of Montreal. The long straight between turns seven and eight is nearly 1.2km and the RS27 will be at full throttle for 14secs, reaching speeds of over 310kph.
The power sensitivity is however lessened by the high concentration of low to medium speed bends in the back part of the circuit round the Marina. Turn 7, the hairpin, is the slowest of the circuit and similar to the challenges of the Grand Hairpin in Monaco. The engine braking needs to be particularly effective for rear stability on entrance, but equally the response needs to be completely correct as the hairpin exit leads onto the long back straight. Any hesitation will compromise the entry to the straight and therefore the overall lap time.
The third part of the track from turn 11 through to the final turn 21 features mainly right hand corners that are taken in second or third gear. The average speed through this section is just 160kph so the RS27 will be set up to give good driveability through this slower section whilst being responsive for the short bursts of power between turns.
Gear selection can be tricky round Abu Dhabi as the long straights require a high seventh gear ratio, but the right-hand corners require the gears to be closely spaced to achieve the required short bursts of acceleration between tight corners.
After the high levels of ambient dust in India, Abu Dhabi is another race where sand and other small dust particles can be ingested into the engine. The air filters designed by Renault Sport F1 should be beneficial in this respect as the abrasive sand can be filtered out without compromising performance.
Pastor Maldonado, Williams F1 Team
Abu Dhabi is quite a typical modern circuit, with a long straight and sequences of tight corners. We need to have good gear ratio selection to give acceleration between the turns but also a correct seventh gear to give a high top speed down the long pit straight. The engine therefore needs to be very driveable on every level.
Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations
Yas Marina is one of the modern style tracks, with all the trappings of that handle. There are two long straights and then a variety of slow to medium corners with lots of run off areas, but nevertheless it’s actually a pretty challenging circuit for the engine, with demands being on a par with circuits such as Montreal and Silverstone.
The ambient conditions and timetable also make it harder to anticipate the correct settings since the track, and therefore car set-up behaviour, will evolve over the course of the day. For example we start in 30°C during the day and end in 20°C, so cooling, response and grip levels all change and the engine needs to respond to this new set of parameters.
Fuel consumption is also higher than average over the course of one lap due to the point-squirt nature of the track, particularly in the final sector. This is further increased by the low altitude of the track, putting Yas Marina alongside Melbourne in terms of the fuel levels needed at the start of the race.
Notwithstanding these challenges, we are looking forward to this race. In India 50% of the points scoring positions were achieved by Renault engined-cars, and with the championship at a critical point we are even more motivated to do well.