Abu Dhabi Speed Trap: Who is the fastest of them all?

© XPB 

For the first time since its debut in 2009, Yas Marina's layout has undergone changes in a bid to improve overtaking around the Abu Dhabi venue.

But tweaks to the circuit have also improved the track's overall flow, while its 1.2km straight has remained intact.

As a medium-high downforce track, Yas Marina requires an optimal compromise between low-speed grip and straight-line speed.

With that prerequisite in mind, a look at Saturday's speed trap readings from qualifying tell a different story than usual.

Often relegated to the tail-end of the fastest cars in a straightline this season, Red Bull's RB16B was quickest down Yas marina's back-straight, with poleman Max Verstappen clocking in at 328.3 km/h, just edging teammate Sergio Perez.

Meanwhile, Mercedes' chargers were relative laggards down the straight, with Lewis Hamilton suffering a 5.5 km/h deficit to his championship rival as measured by the speed trap.

Red Bull's top velocity was achieved courtesy of the bulls running a smaller rear wing in Abu Dhabi. But that choice impact tyre degradation in Sunday's race.

A one-stop race is seen as the faster strategy, but Red Bull and Mercedes have gone down different paths for this evening's crucial event, with the former's drivers starting on the soft compound while the Brackley's squad's drivers will launch their race on the medium rubber.

Starting on the soft helps to enable a quick getaway – which could be an advantage on a circuit where track position is still important – but starting on the medium gives a bit more flexibility around the pit stop window.

It's all to play for between Formula 1's two protagonists, and also between the two teams' respective strategists who will be devising plans and counter-plans of all sorts on the pitwall on Sunday.

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