Surprise Abu Dhabi rear wing selection for one of F1’s notorious tyre strugglers

Uros Radovanovic
A shot of the podium overlooking the Yas Marina circuit for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Yas Marina circuit: Home of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

The final stop of this year’s Formula 1 championship is here – Abu Dhabi. Let’s embrace this last piece of racing action before winter sets in!

While some championship outcomes are already decided, there’s still plenty of reasons to enjoy the last racing weekend of the year.

Let’s look at some key features of this track, what it brings, and which teams are more or less suited to this type of circuit.

The ideal balance needed for Yas Marina

Yas Marina is known for its diverse range of turns, including a long straight. The first sector has fast turns where the balance between downforce and drag is crucial. 

The second sector is the fastest, with two long straights where overtaking is expected, while the third sector demands high downforce for its slow turns.

This means teams will aim for an ideal balance in a medium downforce aerodynamic package, reducing drag to maintain high speeds in the second sector while ensuring enough grip for the slow turns at the end.

This track configuration challenges drivers and cars to perform at their best. The braking and acceleration points are significant, putting extra pressure on the tyres. Additionally, Yas Marina has a high level of track evolution, becoming faster over time, promising interesting qualifying sessions.

How teams prepare for Abu Dhabi

Teams have prepared a medium downforce aerodynamic package for Abu Dhabi. Despite changes to the rear and front wings, we will also see some different designs on the beam wing. Most teams are expected to adopt a “double” beam wing, but this might change based on the design of the rear wing and drivers’ preferences for this track.

Aston Martin, like other teams, will use the initial practices to find the best set-up. Stroll and Alonso will test two different rear wing designs. Moreover, Stroll’s car has a rear wing with a long upper element and a shallow lower plane, providing advantages with an open DRS system and an extra grip in slow turns.

On the other hand, Alonso’s rear wing is cut on the DRS plane, featuring a Gurney flap and a deeper lower element. Even during the previous races we could see how Aston Martin experimented with the rear wing and the use of the Gurney flap.

In the second picture, you can see what kind of rear wing design other teams opted for. As usual, Red Bull has the most loaded wing – due to high aero efficiency, they can afford extra drag, which will affect maximum speeds, but not lap times. In addition to them, McLaren and Haas also followed the path of greater downforce.

Given that Haas is having big problems with maintaining tyre consumption this year, it is very interesting to see that they have also decided on this rear wing.

Mercedes and Alpine opted for the middle when it comes to the level of downforce at the rear wing, while Ferrari, Aston Martin and AlphaTauri opted for the least loaded variant.

With this design, we can expect the Ferrari, next to the Williams, to be one of the fastest cars on the track. If they find settings that will simultaneously bring them enough grip in the first and third sectors, we can expect them to have a good race.

In addition to the Italian team, a good performance is also expected from McLaren, which had a very bad performance last weekend. The types of tracks with a combination of different types of curves are quite suitable for them.

Battles in the final race

The last race in the calendar will bring several interesting battles for final positions on the tables. One of the most captivating battles will be between Mercedes and Ferrari for second place in the Constructors’ Championship. 

The fact that both teams have taken different approaches to aerodynamic preparation adds to the excitement. Mercedes has struggled in the last two weekends, but are widely expected to bounce back here.

Also, four drivers will compete for fourth place in the Drivers’ standings – Carlos Sainz, Fernando Alonso, Lando Norris, and Charles Leclerc. The biggest difference between them is only 12 points, making any changes possible. What’s certain is that we can expect an exciting race and a lot of fun in the final race of this season.

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