There’s more to the big weekend of motorsports at Yas Marina Circuit than the superstars of F1.
As well as the established household names such as Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel, the Circuit will also welcome a host of young guns all eager to prove themselves on one of the world’s best race tracks.
Dozens of talented drivers will be gearing up for the F2 and GP3 Series, both of which offer well-worn routes to the big time for young racers.
The most recent driver to make the jump from F2 to F1 is young French racer Pierre Gasly, who made his debut at this year’s Malaysian Grand Prix for Toro Rosso.
Pierre Gasly is a French formula racing driver, who was the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 Series runner-up and the 2016 GP2 Series champion. He drives a Honda-powered car for Team Mugen in the 2017 Super Formula Championship. He made his Formula One début at the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix.
A highlight of the F2 season this year has been the emergence of Charles Leclerc, who secured the series championship in the penultimate round.
Leclerc is no stranger to die-hard motorsports fans, having won the GP3 title at Yas Marina Circuit last season, securing his step up to F2. While he already has this year’s drivers’ championship crown in the bag, you can expect Leclerc to put on a show to wrap up his victory in style with yet another win in Abu Dhabi.
In GP3 this year, the highlight has been the battle between Jack Aitken and George Russell, who have swapped pole positions several times over the course of the season.
Like Leclerc, Russell was able to clinch the championship before arriving in Abu Dhabi, however, fans can still look forward to two thrilling finale races with the battle for second still very much on in both categories.
In F2, Oliver Rowland and Artem Markelov will face each other, while Aitken will slug it out with Nirei Fukuzumi in the GP3 contest.
While F2 and GP3 might be lower down motorsport’s pecking order compared to F1Ò, they certainly aren’t poor relations.
With the rules governing both F2 and GP3 stating that all of the cars must have the same chassis, engine, gearbox and tyres, the on-track duels have to be decided by the skills, quick thinking and talents of the young men behind the wheel.
Over the years, drivers in both categories have acquitted themselves well at Yas Marina Circuit, which is one of the more technical tracks on the F1 racing calendar.
The Circuit’s ‘street section’ in the last sector (turns 17-18-19) and its slower corners, sequences and off-camber corners measn it is easy for drivers of all abilities to slip up and make a crucial mistake.
While the F2 and GP3 championships will help get spectators in the mood for a weekend of four-wheeled action, they also give young drivers in the region a valuable look at the skills needed to reach their dreams of F1 stardom.
With the launch of the FIA-accredited Formula 4 UAE Championship at Yas Marina Circuit last year, up-and-coming drivers from across the Middle East now have a stepping stone into GP3 and F2.
Al Tareq Al Ameri, CEO of Yas Marina Circuit, said: “The F2 and GP3 championships help nurture talented young drivers and give them every chance of making the jump to F1.
“Now, with the launch of the Formula 4 UAE Championship, more young drivers from the region have a chance of joining them at the very top of the sport.
“With so many extremely talented drivers on the Circuit over the big race weekend, fans of motorsports are guaranteed to see some incredible action on the track.”
For the full race calendar, download the YasHUB smartphone app from Apple and Android stores.