Today the F1 drivers turned their first laps on the new Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. The general feeling seems to be positive, although most drivers feel that there are too many second gear corners in the final part of the lap.
It’s a quick lap here, the average speed is 125 mph and half of the track is straights where the cars are doing 190mph. My impression is that the win will be fought out between Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button. They finished second third and fourth today in practice behind Heikki Kovalainen.
The general feeling in the paddock is that the track and facilities are great, it works for the TV people and the photographers are in heaven, especially in the twilight with the floodlights on.
But the track will be judged by the fans based on what kind of race it produces. The track has places which encourage overtaking, but it is dusty off-line so it will be interesting to see how many drivers feel bold enough to pass. But as there is nothing hanging on this race championship wise, except third place in the constructors between McLaren and Ferrari and sixth place between Williams and BMW, the drivers should hopefully be in the mood to go for it.
Here is a flavour of the drivers’ reaction to the new track.
Fernando Alonso::” I like it. I had fun driving here today. There are some good parts of the track, especially the first sector with some high speed corners. Then the last part of the lap there are 90 degree corners, but you enjoy it because there is always something to do, no time to breathe. The only problem to stop good racing will be the dust off line. If you want to attack or make an overtaking manoeuvre, you need to be clear that you want to do it, because when you put dust on your tyres it lasts for four or five corners and you have very little grip. ”
Jenson Button: “I like it. I wasn’t sure how interesting it was going to be, but it’s a fun circuit to drive, it’s quite easy to make a mistake here because of the camber changes. There is the fast stuff, Turns 2 and 3, then there is some 2nd gear stuff. But I’ve enjoyed it today.”
Rubens Barrichello: “I’m really pleased with the new track here in Abu Dhabi. The venue looks sensational and it’s quite challenging to drive which is makes it a lot more fun for the drivers.”
Giancarlo Fisichella:” The first part is more interesting, turns 1,2 and 3. The middle sector and final sector there are too many second gear corners. There are a couple of off camber corners where the car is inconsistent, but I’m sure there will be more grip so people won’t make mistakes.”
Nico Rosberg:“I enjoyed driving the track for the first time today. It was dirty to begin with and then of course in the second session we were interested in the artificial lighting conditions in the dark and the effect on the tyres of the temperature dropping.”
Adrian Sutil: “The circuit is OK, but I miss some of the high speed sections you find in other tracks. There are a lot of second gear slow sections and the flow is not really there, but it’s still a big challenge as it’s very slippery so you are always fighting with oversteer. There wasn’t a problem with the changing light as the lighting is very good: you still know it’s at night but you can really see clearly.”
Jarno Trulli: “It was good fun and I am looking forward to racing here. They have done a great job with the facilities and the track is really well built, so I am impressed.”