Abu Dhabi GP: Preview – Pirelli

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix marks the end of the 2018 season – but also the beginning of the 2019 season. For the final encounter of the year, the three softest tyres in the range have been selected: P Zero Red supersoft, P Zero Purple ultrasoft, and P Zero Pink hypersoft. It’s also going to be the last time that the purple and pink colours will be seen on a Formula 1 tyre in a race, as next year’s tyres will feature only three permanent colours: white, yellow and red. Straight after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the drivers get to try out the 2019 tyres, effectively marking the start of next season, and some might even get to sample the cars from their new teams…

Last year’s tyre nomination also featured the three softest tyres in the 2017 range – soft, supersoft, and ultrasoft – but all the tyres are now a step softer than last year, with the hypersoft being two steps softer than the 2017 ultrasoft.

The surface at Yas Marina is smooth and not especially demanding on tyres, allowing the softest compounds to be used. Abu Dhabi was actually where the hypersoft made its debut, at last year’s test after the grand prix.

The race starts in the late afternoon and ends in the evening, which affects the usual evolution of track temperature during the grand prix.

The anti-clockwise circuit is all about traction and braking rather than lateral force.

A one-stopper has usually been the winning strategy, with Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas triumphing last year after starting on ultrasoft and moving to supersoft. Only one driver went for a three-stopper – will this change with a softer tyre nomination?

There’s a quite a variety of speeds and corners in Abu Dhabi so the cars tend to run a compromise set-up, with medium downforce levels.

The final test of the year will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday after the grand prix, with the 2019 P Zero tyres, a variety of drivers – and some probably driving for their 2019 teams as well.

Mario Isola: “Once again we’re bringing a tyre nomination that’s somewhat softer than previous years, with the hypersoft selected for only the sixth time this year, and for only the third time at a permanent race venue. Nonetheless, the hypersoft is not entirely new to Abu Dhabi, as it was first run there a year ago, making Yas Marina the only track where the hypersoft has previously tested and will now be raced. How it actually performs in race conditions at the circuit, especially with regard to strategy, is going to be interesting to see – and of course those tactics will already begin in qualifying on Saturday, Once again, the teams will get a chance to test next year’s tyres after the race: of course they will run on 2018 cars, but this test will nonetheless provide a useful taste of the future.”