F1 2023: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Track Guide


Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Track Guide: Here’s everything you need to know about the Yas Marina circuit – the venue for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend

The Yas Marina Circuit, located near Abu Dhabi on Yas Island, hosts the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Designed by Hermann Tilke, it’s the Middle East’s second Formula One track after Bahrain. Its popularity spurred the development of tracks in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Ahead of the 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a two-day GP2 Asia Series test marked the circuit’s official inauguration. Notably, the circuit holds an FIA Grade 1 rating.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix track guide

Located on Yas Island, the circuit rests on a peninsula separated from the mainland by a canal. Boasting sixteen corners, multiple long stretches, and five grandstand zones (Main, West, North, South, and Marina Grandstands), it provides various perspectives for spectators. Notably, a distinctive aspect involves a section of the pit lane exit that passes beneath the track. Additionally, the circuit incorporates amenities such as a team building adjacent to the pit area, a Media Center, Dragster Track, and a VIP Tower.

Lewis Hamilton holds the title of the most successful driver in the history of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, claiming an unprecedented five wins at this track. Following closely, Max Verstappen ranks second with three victories, matching the record held by retired racer Sebastian Vettel. Mercedes and Red Bull lead as the most accomplished constructors, jointly securing six wins in this Grand Prix. Additionally, Max Verstappen set the official race lap record for this event with a time of 1:26.103, achieved while driving a Mercedes W10 during the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Yas Marina Circuit – Layout

The Yas Marina circuit is renowned for its modern design, ample overtaking opportunities, and diverse layout that challenges drivers with a mix of technical corners and high-speed sections. Several factors contribute to its inclination towards faster timings including track design, surface, layout among other things.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix track guide
Yas Marina circuit (Getty)

The circuit boasts a lengthy straight that allows Formula 1 cars to reach their maximum speeds. The long straights, specifically the one after Turn 7 leading into Turn 8, provide a prime opportunity for drivers to accelerate to top speeds before braking into the subsequent corners. This configuration enables cars to gain considerable momentum and contribute significantly to faster lap times. Although the circuit has long straights, it also features technical sections that demand precise handling and braking. Sector 2, in particular, is characterized by a series of tight corners that require drivers to slow down and navigate carefully. The combination of fast straights and challenging technical sections creates a balance that pushes drivers to optimize their speed through different parts of the track.

The climate in Abu Dhabi plays a role in encouraging faster lap times at the Yas Marina Circuit. Cooler temperatures during November allow cars to perform better as engines can generate more power and tires maintain their grip more effectively, aiding in achieving faster overall lap times. The tarmac at Yas Marina is smooth, offering good grip for the tires, which translates to better traction and faster cornering speeds. Additionally, the track’s maintenance ensures minimal debris or imperfections that could otherwise hinder performance, allowing drivers to push their cars to the limits more confidently.

The Yas Marina Circuit strategically incorporates designated DRS (Drag Reduction System) zones that aid in overtaking and, consequently, in pushing for faster lap times. There are two DRS zones at the circuit. These zones are placed along the track’s long straights, enabling drivers to open their rear wing and reduce drag, thus increasing their speed as they chase down opponents or aim for quicker lap times in qualifying sessions.

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