Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Weather 2012: Saturday Review, Sunday Forecast

High drama continued into qualifying at Yas Marina this evening – not so much with Lewis Hamilton’s stunning lap of 1m40.630s to take pole position for tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but with Sebastian Vettel being ordered to stop his Red Bull on the circuit before reaching parc ferme at the end of the session. As I write this, it remains to be seen if the grid order we have now, is how they will actually line up in just under 24 hours’ time.

English: Formula One Circuit Yas Island

The Yas Marina Circuit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Track temperature fell one click short of yesterday’s record-breaking mark of 48 degrees, but it was incredibly warm again and for the second day in a rwo there was the potential in the atmosphere for showers to build in the region. Prior to final practice I spent time monitoring a huge storm that had developed over the Persian Gulf. Thankfully that cell stayed over the water and eventually fizzled out, while just to the south-west of Abu Dhabi, two smaller showers appears then de-intensified in double-quick time.

Sunday Forecast

Race day will start off dry with abundant sunshine and rapidly climbing temperatures. By early afternoon we should be up to a maximum ambient of 32 degrees.

Now, interestingly, there will be a slight rise in overall humidity levels tomorrow and given the heat this is likely to result in a few more showers developing over the United Arab Emirates as a whole. So rather than a zero percent risk we move up to around 10 to 15 percent chance of a shower reaching Yas Marina during the late afternoon. Make no mistake, it is an extremely low risk and the likelihood is that we will get a repeat of the last few days, with fine conditions for the 55-lap race.

A slightly stronger north-westerly breeze than compared to today may lead to a fine dust haze, so the early laps could prove interesting. Track temperature should start off around the mid-thirties Celsius range, dropping to 30 or 29 degrees as darkness falls during the event. The official sunset time tomorrow is 17:41 GST, so around lap 24 or thereabouts.

I will be on hand via the Twitter feed in the lead-up to the race and reporting if there is a distinct shower build-up. That’s it for the blog forecasts this week. Enjoy the race and I will be back on Monday 12th November with a completely new venue and location to play with (always interesting for a weather geek!), as the Formula 1 family touches down in Austin, Texas for the sport’s long-awaited return to the United States.

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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Weather 2012: Friday Review, Saturday Forecast

McLaren and Red Bull shared the spoils on the opening day of practice for Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in glorious weather, but concern for the constructors’ champions, as Mark Webber was prevented from working through a long run at the end thanks to a water leak.

Talking of liquid, one thing I didn’t get chance to mention during my tweets or commentary entries today, was that conditions in the region were close to being favourable for thunderstorm development. Indeed, two cells did form to the north-west of Abu Dhabi, over the Persian Gulf, but after a quick look at the radar loop prior to first practice it became clear that these showers would not make it to land.

Track temperature climbed to 48 degrees briefly during the afternoon practice and according to my previous data, that is a record during an official Formula 1 session. The 2009 event delivered a slightly higher ambient, but the maximum through the Friday and Saturday three years ago was between 45 and 47 Celsius.

Saturday Forecast

To the surprise of absolutely none of you, we are all set for a repeat showing tomorrow. It will be warm with abundant sunshine from the start, resulting in fine conditions for final practice and qualifying. The official sunset time is 17:41 GST, which will be towards the end of Q2.

Air temperature is expected to reach a high of 32 Celsius during final practice, dipping by a couple of degrees to around 30c by the end of qualifying, translating into a high track temperature into the mid or high-forties range again, before dipping gradually during the knockout session.

Fingers crossed that an ever-improving grip level will help to produce a close and exciting two sessions, with the V8 Supercars also on hand to keep the fans entertained. Once the track action has concluded, I will be back to look over the day’s events and look ahead to the all-important race day forecast.

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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Weather 2012: Friday Forecast

At least one aspect of Formula 1 became much clearer this week, as the teams and drivers moved to the middle east and the 5.554km Yas Marina circuit for round 18 of this year’s campaign – the silly season is nearing its conclusion.

Three seats have been confirmed since my last entry on Monday evening and it is difficult to find argument with any of them – save perhaps for the Hulkenberg move to Sauber. Certainly on the team’s side, the young German is a great replacement for the out-going Sergio Perez, but you must just wonder slightly from his standpoint, whether a seat at the Swiss squad is really that much of a step up. Would another season at Force India really have hurt his chances of securing a top drive in years to come?

Despite this, I hope Hulkenberg can make the move work. I have commentated and studied Force India as one of my teams at length over the past few years, and I have no doubt that he is a race winner in waiting. A championship victor? Possibly. It needs more time before you can guage how he performs in the intense pressure of a title fight spanning a period of months, but he has all the drive, skills and tenacity to come good and join the exclusive champions club.

Weatherwise, conditions over the past few days have been nothing short of fantastic – far from what the local weather agency had predicted. Yes, there was a breeze in evidence, but nothing like the strong winds and subsequent showers that hammered Abu Dhabi on Monday. For once I decided that the national forecast was more likely to deliver than the GFS model – which I have trusted for years. This proved to be a mistake and one that I will not be repeating over the weekend.

Yas Marina Circuit Abu Dhabi

Yas Marina Circuit (Photo credit: mx2-foto)

Friday Forecast

Practice day is looking excellent and the trend of unbroken sunshine will continue. During the morning and early afternoon there will be a light breeze, which will become a northerly as the drivers take to the track for the first session.

Wind speed will increase during the late afternoon period, becoming moderate during the evening session. Official sunset time is 17:42 GST so there will be some wonderful views as the natural light fades and darkness takes over during the second half of practice two.

Air temperature will reach a peak of 31 degrees tomorrow afternoon, dipping to around 29 Celsius by the end of the day’s activity. Track surface temperature will climb tthrough the 40-degree barrier, before dipping through the evening to just under 30 Celsius by the end of the second session.

With conditions looking stable through the weekend, it now falls to the course workers to get into their roadsweepers and make sure the surface is as clean as possible prior to the start of practice. Once the two sessions have concluded, I will be back to review the day and look ahead to Saturday’s running.

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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Weather 2012: Early Forecast

Hello everyone. Before I begin, it would be completely amiss of me not to mention the chaos that is currently taking place over the eastern seaboard of the United States.

Sandy About To Land

Obviously, many of you who read this blog will be aware that category one Hurricane Sandy is about to make landfall over New Jersey, bringing with it sustained winds of approximately 90 mph, heavy rain and a dangerous storm surge. Non-American television news channels are beginning to cover the story to a reasonable degree, but as expected with mainstream news, they are dipping in and out of US election coverage, home news and other things as well. If you want round-the-clock coverage and updates from Sandy then look no further than the live stream for ABC 7 New York.

Moving East

Formula 1 couldn’t be further from the minds of many people in the eastern third of the US, but the show goes on, with the teams having almost completed a rapid journey from Delhi to the United Arab Emirates.

Abu Dhabi and the Yas Marina twilight race is next on the calendar, with Sebastian Vettel now 13 points clear of Fernando Alonso, after both produced fighting drives to first and second place in the Indian Grand Prix.

This week was going to be a continuation of the warm and dry trend from the last three events, no doubt about it…

That was, until this afternoon. A large weather system developed over the Persian Gulf between Iran and the UAE. High winds at the leading edge of the system created a monumental sandstorm this afternoon over Abu Dhabi. Palm trees in the city were blown over and motorists faced extremely difficult driving conditions. Ricardo Penteado, who works for the Renault engine concern looking after Kimi Raikkonen’s unit in the rear of the Lotus at each grand prix, shot this short video today as he was travelling back from Yas Island (where the circuit is located) towards the city…

Needless to say, if conditions like these are ever faced during a race weekend there would be no chance to run. Sandstorms obviously create a two-part problem. You cannot simply wait for the winds to ease off and then say ‘off you go chaps.’  With some fairly deep amounts of sand building up at the side of the road, it would take the track marshals and course officials some time to remove enough sand and dust in order to make the track usable.

Once the wind died down, the locals then got a second surprise with showers affecting parts of the city, as the large swathe of cloud just out to sea then skirted the coastline.

Early Forecast

Wind and associated dust could become a real issue for team personel this week in the lead-up top the event. It will be sunny for most of the time through Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but fresh to strong afternoon winds will generate, creating a high level of dust haze and possibly one more sandstorm as severe as today’s event. There is also a chance of convective showers delevoping – mainly during late-afternoon.

Early data runs suggest that these unsettled conditions may continue through to Friday and the two practice sessions could be problematic due to a moderate breeze, creating the potential for dust haze, along with the risk of afternoon showers developing.

On Saturday and Sunday things will ease down a little, with plenty of sunshine as the showers fade away, but there will still be a light-to-moderate breeze at times coming chiefly from the north. Temperatures will remain warm, with maximum ambient ranging from 29 to 32 degrees Celsius throughout the course of this week.

In summary, there is a lot going on – both with Hurricane Sandy and the potential for an unsettled and windy week at Yas Marina. I will be monitoring the latest data over the coming days and any snippets of interest will of course go up via the Twitter feed, ahead of the next forecast update on this page on Thursday.

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