Brazil was a great weekend for the team. Of course, it didn’t go exactly to plan for me but second place in the circumstances was a good recovery and it was a great moment to get a record-breaking one-two finish for all the people who have worked so hard to give us this amazing car. I really felt like I connected with the fans in São Paulo and their support was just incredible – I still can’t get over it now. That really inspires me heading into the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi. People talk about how long it’s been since I won the title – but I honestly feel like I’m fighting for my first World Championship all over again. Sure, I’m older and maybe a little bit wiser than I was back then. I’ve learnt a lot in the years since 2008 – but I’m still the same driver. I still have the same hunger, the same will to win, and I’ve been giving it everything I’ve got from the word go this season. I’ve had ups and downs along the way – but I’ve never once given up. I’ve managed to fight my way back from whatever has come my way and my approach doesn’t change for this race. I’ve got a good record at the Abu Dhabi circuit. Last year was actually the only time I’ve not started on the front row or finished on the podium. But I’ve also had some misfortune there over the years – particularly in 2012. I’m hoping that bad luck won’t play a part this time around and I know that the team has been working flat out to make sure it doesn’t. I’m feeling relaxed, I’m feeling confident and I’m ready to win.
Yas Marina - In The Cockpit With Lewis
Abu Dhabi is one of the newest circuits on the calendar and the venue is just spectacular – particularly with the twilight timing, starting off as the sun sets and finishing in complete darkness.
For Turn One you need to make sure you get the car all the way over to the right-hand side of the track, braking just before the 100m sign and powering flat-out through the exit and uphill through Turn Two. You’re then into the long right-hander of Turn Three, which is seriously fast and just seems to keep going and going. That then switches straight into the slight left-hand kink of Turn Four, dropping you down the other side of the hill and into the stadium complex.
The Turn Five / Six chicane is really tight and very low grip, as is the Turn Seven hairpin which follows immediately afterwards. You have to take a really wide entry to this corner and it’s absolutely crucial to carry as much speed as possible, due to the mega long DRS straight which begins on exit.
You’re braking really late into the first part of the Turn Eight / Nine chicane and it’s so easy to lock either the rears or the fronts. You have to take a really tight line to the first apex so that you can carry as much speed as possible through the second and down another DRS straight, which features the slight kind of Turn Ten. This is another prime overtaking opportunity and, if you don’t have a Mercedes-Benz power unit, you’re going to wish you had!
The Turn 10 / 11 / 13 combination is very low speed and the car is skating around all the time through here. You can brake late for the next left hander at Turn 14 but, once again, hitting the apex is important as it’s so easy to run wide and ruin your exit. It’s flat out through the double right of Turns 15 / 16 and you have to get the steering straight as early as possible for braking into Turn 17 as it’s easy to lock the right front.
You can carry quite a lot of speed through the two left handers of Turns 18 / 19, taking a lot of kerb and running wide on the exit of 18 in particular, before a short blast down the straight into Turn 20. You have to brake just a little bit into here, carrying as much speed as possible before backing right off for the final corner – using all of the run off as you head down across the start / finish line to complete the lap.