After a disrupted season full of new venues and unexpected challenges, the year finishes in a familiar setting: the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where the C3 will be the compound for the P Zero White hard, C4 will be the P Zero Yellow medium, and C5 will be the P Zero Red soft. This is the same nomination as last year for the evening race, which takes place a couple of weeks later than it did in 2019.
The track surface is very smooth and about average in terms of severity. This makes the three softest tyres in the P Zero range suitable for the state-of-the-art Yas Marina circuit.
As was the case at the Bahrain Grand Prix, teams will get to test some 2021 tyres during free practice on Friday. However, unlike Bahrain, these will be just one set per car of the C4 compound (Bahrain was two sets of C3) and must be used in FP2 only, for a minimum run of eight timed laps. These sets are on top of the usual weekend allocation (two sets of hard, three sets of medium, and eight sets of soft).
There will also be a one-day post-season test on Tuesday after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, mainly dedicated to drivers who have started fewer than two grands prix but with a few notable exceptions. This test will use the current 2020 tyres.
The Yas Marina track contains a wide variety of different corners, making it a good all-round test of cars and tyres. With extensive data on this track from races and tests, the teams already have a very clear idea about the optimal set up.
As the race starts at 5 pm in the middle of December, track temperatures will fall quite rapidly over the course of the grand prix as darkness sets in, which will therefore affect tyre behaviour. FP1 and FP3, by contrast, are both held in daylight.
One year ago the top two in Abu Dhabi (Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull‘s Max Verstappen) completed the race with just one stop from medium to hard, while Ferrari‘s Charles Leclerc added an extra stop for the soft tyre to finish third. The majority of drivers stopped only once, but six stopped twice.
There will be no support races this year in Abu Dhabi – only Formula 1 – which will affect the amount of rubber laid down over the course of the weekend and consequently the track evolution.
Mario Isola: “The teams are very familiar with the Yas Marina circuit, which should allow them to extract maximum performance straight away to decide the final championship positions. The fastest lap in the 10-year previous F1 history of the track was set last year in qualifying, so it will be interesting to see if that benchmark is lowered even further this weekend.
“There will also be an emphasis on testing: both with the 2021 tyres in FP2, which the teams previously tried on Friday in Bahrain nearly two weeks ago, and at the post-season test, which will take place on Tuesday after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The 2021 tyre test should provide very useful data and the post-season one should allow drivers to get familiar with the car for what will hopefully be a much more normal 2021.”