The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is one of the most spectacular races on the Formula One calendar, with the race always producing excellent images, being Formula One’s first day-night race.
History of the Abu Dhabi Grant Prix
The idea of a race being held in Abu Dhabi was first floated around in the mid-2000s, before being announced in early 2007. It was announced that Abu Dhabi would host it’s first Formula One race in 2009, with the track being designed by long time F1 track designer Hermann Tilke who also designed the tracks at Jeddah, Baku and Sochi.
The original contract was for the circuit to host a Formula One race from 2009 to 2016, but the success of the race and the financial backing meant Formula One were looking to extend that contract when it was nearing its end. Having signed a couple of short term extensions, F1 signed a massive ten year agreement that would see the Yas Marina Circuit host a Formula One race until at least 2031.
The first race was held in 2009, with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel. While the race was always supposed to be near the end of the calendar, it quickly became the final race of the calendar and so has produced some brilliant races. It began with a classic in 2012.
With the title battle going heading into Abu Dhabi, championship leader Sebastian Vettel had to start from the pitlane after he was disqualified from qualifying. But Vettel fought through the field to finish third, enough for the title ahead of Fernando Alonso.
2016 saw another title decider in Abu Dhabi, with Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg competing for the title. Hamilton had won the last three races but needed his teammate to have a poor result. Hamilton did all he could, winning the race, but Rosberg’s second place finish was enough for the German to win the title.
Abu Dhabi was one of the tracks that remained on the Formula One calendar during the Covid-19 affected 2020 season, but the race was moved back to the 13th of December, which is the latest in the year an F1 race has ever been held.
While the 2020 race was pretty uneventful, the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will go down as one of the most controversial and exciting Formula One races of all time. Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen went into the race tied on points leading the championship, the better finisher of the two winning the championship.
Hamilton dominated the race and looked set to win his eighth world title. But Nicholas Latifi’s crash closed the gap to Verstappen in second. With the safety car pitting to allow one final lap, race director Michael Masi controversially allowed the lapped cars in between the pair to overtake, but not allowing all of the lapped cars.
This directly went against the FIA rules, but Verstappen was still declared the Formula One World Champion, having passed Lewis on the final lap of the race. It will go down as one of the most controversial races in the history of Formula One.
The Yas Marina Circuit was made up of 21 corners when it was designed, as well as having one of the longest straights on the Formula One calendar. Despite being a mainstay on the F1 calendar, the track had plenty of critics due to a few poor design choices.
Changes were finally made halfway through 2021, which saw the chicane at turns 5 and 6 removed, as well as a sweeping banked curve being put in where turns 11-14 used to be. These changes were brought in to make the circuit faster and the racing much more exciting.
The removal of the chicane was a change that fans had been asking to be made for years, as the track already had the concrete laid down to remove the chicane.