Abu Dhabi joined the Formula One calendar in 2009, the race taking place on the breathtaking Yas Marina Circuit on Yas Island, a 2,500 hectare reclaimed island, which is being developed into the country's premier tourist attraction. In 2010 Ferrari World, the largest indoor amusement park in the world, opened on the island with attractions including water parks, shopping malls, a Warner Bros theme park and much more all due to open.
Penned by circuit design supremo Hermann Tilke, the Yas Marina Circuit is a spectacular venue but one which does not always produce great racing. Intended to be an Arabian version of Monaco, the latter part of the circuit winds past the specially-constructed harbour and underneath the Yas Marina Hotel, and holds the distinction of being Formula One's only day-to-night race, with sunset taking place during the race. Thousands of floodlights provide a consistent light level for the drivers during the transition.
Yas Marina is, like the Buddh International Circuit last week, a track of two halves. The first part is all about long straights punctuated by hairpins, and the end of the lap is slower with a high number of second and third-gear turns.
The track has a high fuel effect, meaning cars will travel faster later in the race once the high fuel load burns off. Because of the high number of slow/medium corners the impact on brakes is quite high, necessitating larger brake ducts and additional cooling vents throughout the car's bodywork.
Because of the day-to-night transition during the race, attention must be paid to the operating range of the Pirelli tyres - practice normally takes place with the circuit at 50C, whilst in the race track temperature normally falls to 35C, which can have a major impact on tyre performance.
Sebastian Vettel was aiming to make it three wins in a row at Yas Marina and led from pole position, only to suffer a puncture on the exit of Turn 1 and spun off, handing the lead to Lewis Hamilton.
The McLaren driver held the lead, barring a few laps around his pitstops on laps 16 and 40, to the end and recorded his third win of the season. Fernando Alonso passed Hamilton's team-mate Jenson Button on the opening lap and held second to the flag, while Button was the final man on the podium after a race-long battle with Mark Webber in the second Red Bull.
Tyre wear: 7/10
Two stops were the order of the day in 2011 and likely to be the same this time around. Pirelli are brining the medium (white) and soft (yellow) tyres to the Emirate, which will provide a wide performance range to cope with changing track temperatures and low-to-high speed acceleration zones.
Although Yas Marina boasts two long straights, the majority of the circuit is made up by low and medium speed corners so the downforce levels will be higher to ensure a higher cornering speed can be achieved.
Average speed: 6/10
The cars will exceed 190mph on the back straight and get close on the run to Turn 11, but the winding nature of the last sector means the overall lap speed drops as a result.
Track difficulty: 3/10
Far from the hardest circuit on the calendar, Yas Marina has almost no elevation changes save for an uphill-downhill run over the crest of Turn 3. The third sector is the crucial one to master as the plethora of second and third-gear corners means that more time can be lost than gained here.
The perennial problem at Yas Marina is overtaking, and pre-DRS it was virtually impossible. The 2010 event, where Fernando Alonso spent countless laps losing the world championship battle as Vitaly Petrov's Renault provide immovable in front, served as a catalyst for change with DRS being given the green light for introduction from 2011 onwards.
Scores highly for the venue but racing fans tend not to look too fondly on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The setting on Yas Island, with the sun dipping below the horizon during the race, can make for some truly breathtaking photos, but often the on-track action fails to live up to its opulent surroundings.
Venue Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi
Lap record 1m 40.279s – Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull (209)
2011 Winner Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
GP History (only races held as part of the Formula One World Championship are included):
Yas Marina 2009-present
Stats from Mercedes AMG Petronas