We come to it at last – the 2022 Formula One finale at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. With 21 races already under our belts this year, Williams Racing has just one more weekend to conclude the season.
It's a familiar setting for F1 to see its last chequered flag of the year, with the Yas Marina Circuit set to host its 10th season finale on our 14th visit to Yas Island.
For one final time in 2022, here's everything you need to know about this weekend's Grand Prix.
Plans for a race in Abu Dhabi began in the mid-00s when the Emirate first looked at developing the area around 20km east of Abu Dhabi's downtown. With a theme park, marina, and hotels in the immediate vicinity, the primary focus of Yas Island was the Yas Marina Circuit, which first hosted F1 in 2009.
The track became Formula One's first day-to-night Grand Prix, with floodlights illuminating the original 21-corner layout from lights to flag. Last year saw an updated design and reprofiling work done to Turn 5 and much of the second sector, reducing the lap length to 5.281km with 16 turns remaining.
Abu Dhabi hosted the season-ending Grand Prix on its debut, then took over finale duties on a long-term basis from 2014 onwards. Last year, the circuit secured the contractual right to continue to be the curtain-closing event until 2030 at the earliest.
The first half of the circuit always sees overtaking, thanks to the 1.2km straight that follows the hairpin at Turn 5. A chicane splits what is otherwise a flat-out run down to Turn 9, with two DRS zones aiding the wheel-to-wheel action.
Several features surround (and cover) the circuit, making Yas Marina a must-see venue for any F1 fan. Sector 3 snakes around the eponymous Yas Marina and is home to the instantly recognisable W Abu Dhabi hotel, which crosses the track between turns 13 and 14. Meanwhile, the indoor Ferrari World theme park sits behind the grandstands at Turn 5.
What are the drivers saying?
It's going to be an emotional race for Nicky, whose time with Williams Racing will come to an end when the race is over: “I'm coming into my final race weekend with the team and in Formula 1 so I'm looking to enjoy it as much as I can.
“I'll be sitting out of FP1 this weekend but as we qualify and race at night it won't make too much of a difference.
“It's sad to be at the last race but it's been a great three years at Williams with a lot of ups and downs. Hopefully I can end the season on as high a note as possible.”
For Alex, Abu Dhabi represents the conclusion of his first season back in Formula One. With Albono securing P4 on his previous visit to Yas Marina, he's looking forward to returning to Abu Dhabi:
“It’s the last race of the season so we’ll see how we go this week, obviously wanting to end on a high note and give some motivation to everyone during the winter season.
“This track should suit us more than the last two races and with it being Nicky’s last race with the team, hopefully we can all put on a good race for him.”
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Logan is facing a busy few days in the Middle East. Our American F2 racer will again jump in the FW44 for FP1, as well as race in Formula 2's final two races before familiarising himself further with F1 machinery in the post-season Young Driver Test, but he is relishing the challenge:
“I’m looking forward to my last Free Practice outing of the year followed by the Young Driver Test with Williams.
“It’s been a fantastic opportunity to get this much time behind the wheel of the FW44 across four race weekends.
“Over the sessions, I’ve been able to learn a lot about the new generation of cars compared to what I drove in the Young Driver Test last year.
“Alongside FP1 this weekend, my focus is on the final race of my Formula 2 season which I’m hoping to finish as strongly as possible.”
From the Pit Wall
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix isn't just the end of the season for our drivers; it's also the final time Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance at Williams Racing, has to prepare the two FW44s to race:
“The final event of the season takes place in Abu Dhabi and we will be looking to finish 2022 on a high and also begin our preparations for 2023.
“Logan will drive the FW44 again, this time in Nicholas’s car for FP1. He will then drive one of the cars for a full day at the post-season test on Tuesday.
“His main focus this weekend is the finale of his F2 campaign but his time in the F1 car will be valuable as he continues to prepare for the future.
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“Alex will drive the other car at the post-season test and both cars will be running the 2023 Pirelli tyres and gaining some vital experience that will help guide our preparations for the 2023 pre-season test in Bahrain.
“Abu Dhabi should suit the FW44 better than Interlagos and we are keen to finish the season with a strong showing.
“Pirelli have provided the softest compounds in their range for this race event and once the track has cleaned-up and we are into the evening sessions, these compounds should work well.”
Did you know?
Our best result at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix came in 2014 when Felipe Massa's P2 and Valtteri Bottas's P3 delivered a double-podium finish for Williams Racing.
In that 2014 race, Williams also took a curious record of being the team to score the highest tally in a single race with 66 points, as the Grand Prix became the only race in F1 history to award double points.
The designers chose the shade of blue used in branding for the circuit and on many run-off areas to match the colour of the local water around Yas Island.
As well as driving under a hotel bridge for the only time on the calendar, F1 drivers will also find themselves exiting the pit lane underneath the track in Abu Dhabi – another unique feature of the Yas Marina Circuit.
The development of Yas Island, on which the track sits, has cost somewhere in the region of $40bn and now features a water park, shopping mall, nightclub, golf course, and more to entertain visitors.
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