2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Friday
WHAT WE LEARNED
- Red Bull driver Max Verstappen set the pace in second free practice, clocking a 1m25.146s on the soft P Zero compound. George Russell’s Mercedes was 0.341s off the top spot, with Charles Leclerc making it three teams in the top three with a 1m25.599s aboard his Ferrari.
- Track temperatures rapidly decreased from 38.6°C to 35.7°C during second free practice, which took place as the sun began to set. Those conditions were markedly different from the first free practice in the afternoon, where track temperatures rose as high as 47.5°C. Conditions for qualifying on Saturday are expected to be closer to those seen in second free practice, rather than the first session.
- Despite Yas Marina’s reputation for red flags in practice, there were no interruptions in either free practice session on Friday. This will undoubtedly benefit the teams and drivers, who were able conduct significant long runs without interruptions as they prepared for Sunday’s race.
- Charles Leclerc clocked the fastest time of anyone on the P Zero medium compound with a 1m26.045s in second free practice. The fastest lap time on the white-marked hard compound tyres during Friday also came in the second session, courtesy of Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) with a 1m27.368s.
- First practice provided a precious opportunity for several young drivers to accrue mileage at the wheel of a Formula 1 car. That said, none of the six drivers without an F1 race start to their name were able to challenge the established stars at the top of the timesheets: Lewis Hamilton set the pace with a 1m26.633s on softs, 0.220s ahead of Mercedes team mate Russell. Leclerc was third-fastest (as he would be later on in FP2) with a 1m26.888s.
“Both the sessions were characterised by high track evolution, which allowed for faster lap times as the evening descended and track temperatures fell significantly. We have noticed more degradation across all the compounds than in previous years, which opens up new scenarios with regards to race strategy. In fact, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has almost always suited a one-stop strategy; this year, we could see teams adopting a two-stop approach. The tyre with the highest wear rate at Yas Marina is the front right, due to the anti-clockwise layout and circuit characteristics. The front axle was the most limiting factor in terms of degradation; to manage the graining encountered today on the softer compounds, the teams could decide to use a combination of C3 (hard) and C4 (medium) compounds on Sunday.”
THE BIG NUMBER: 2500
This is the size of Yas Island in hectares, making it the largest man-made island in the world. It houses the Yas Marina circuit, along with amusement parks and attractions such as Ferrari World. The circuit, designed by Hermann Tilke and completed in 2009, is the first permanent track in the world to boast a capacity of 60,000 fully-covered seats. Tickets for this year’s race are already sold out.