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Video: Night time high speed lap of Abu Dhabi and some race data
Video: Night time high speed lap of Abu Dhabi and some race data
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Oct 2009   |  8:15 am GMT  |  73 comments

Last week I showed video of the first on-board laps of the new Yas Marina Island circuit in Abu Dhabi.

Here’s some footage from the same two seater F1 event, which I have edited up to give an idea of what the spectacle will look like on TV next weekend.

The event is set to be the first F1 race to start in daylight and go into the night.

I’ve also got some data on the track, from one of the teams. This gives you a bit of an idea what kind of track it is in terms of fuel consumption and race strategy.

It looks like the fuel consumption will be around 2.59 kg/lap, which is not that high. Although it’s a long lap, the high temperature brings the number down a bit.

The fuel effect is also just above average at 0.32s per 10 Kilos of fuel – in other words every extra 10 kilos you carry will slow you down by 0.32s. The numbers are quite similar to Malaysia but with a slightly lower fuel effect. They also compare to Bahrain, but with a lower engine power effect.

It looks like the pit lane exit will be the decider when teams come to choose their strategies and you will see a lot of action on Friday as drivers try to work out how long it takes to negotiate the pit lane exit tunnel. The end of the pit lane speed limit is before the cars enter of the tunnel, so the drivers will be chancing their arms to find out how fast you can go through there. It will be dusty to start with..

There is no crane in the tunnel, by the way, but there is a trapdoor in the wall through which marshals can quickly recover any crashed cars.

If the loss time from coming into the pits is anything more than about 12 seconds then it looks like this will be a two stop race.

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  1. Gavin Cameron says:

    Could they close the pit lane if there is a crash in the tunnel, rather than bring out the safety car?

    1. John Kilmartin says:

      They would have to close the pit exit either way. Closing the pit entirely wouldn’t be necessary.

      Where are they going to deploy the SC from?

    2. Michael P says:

      Amazing setting great stuff on the pitlane out drama some decent corners but looks extreme boring with all respect. I have seen the onboard and kept waiting for a hotter lap. I will for sure still enjoy this though.

  2. Attila says:

    Awesome, isn’t it???

    I hope there will be and an exciting race!

  3. Anthony says:

    Hi James, I seem to remember reading that the BBC will show the race in HD. Do you know if that is so. Thanks for a great blog

    1. Homer says:

      no they won’t.

  4. Barry Hope says:

    Looks great doesnt it. I went to the Singapore GP recently and the atmosphere was quite special – enhanced by the fact that the circuit feels like it is the middle of the city and is surrounded by hotels and bars and the metro is on the other side of the road.
    We’ve run slicks and wings cars on the Bahrain and Dubai circuits for 5 years and the key is in the track cleaning equipment. Given the amount of money invested in building the facility, I would have though someone would have developed a better cleaning machine than currently is use. Would be so much better if the whole width of the circuit was cleaned.
    Final thought – support races with a 1.2km main straight. Will be interesting.

  5. UnicornF1 says:

    what is the lap time???

  6. martin_tf says:

    Looks like it will make a spectacular picture on the TV, I just hope that we get some equally spectacular racing to go with it.

  7. Andy Gibson says:

    Ooooo darkness, how exciting. I so wish it got dark where I live… oh hang on it does, every night. What a pathetic gimic.

    How the F1 establishment can’t see that there is something wrong when the most exciting part of a circuit is the pitlane exit is beyond me. Idiots.

    I am so pleased the championships were wrapped up at a great traditional, characterful circuit that always produces great racing rather than another new antiseptic concrete jungle.

    I predict this is going to be a dull procession. Most of the circuit is short straights and 90 degree corners, and it will be massively dusty off line.

    Formula One needs to stop worrying about lining Bernies pockets with hugh fees that only places like this can afford and look at what makes great racing – great circuits with character.

    1. Ron W says:

      The night running time does add an extra dimension in terms of visual effects.

      The way the lights shine off the cars, the intense glow of the brake discs and you can easily see the flames shooting from the exhaust!

      And as for the short straight, slow corners – this is exactly what you want in order to circumnavigate the aero effect issue the trailing car has in the bend.

      Great Circuits with character. Silverstone fit the bill?
      Good, because the race was boring and very much a procession that you want to avoid.

      1. Andy Gibson says:

        Funny, for me the best races of the season have been Spa, Monza, Interlagos,… where there is not a short straight/90 degree corner in sight.

        I’m no huge fan of Silverstone, but most years you get a good race there. And it is always fantastic watching the cars through Copse, Becketts and Maggotts to really see them doing what they do best.

        As for lights adding another dimension… yawn… go visit Blackpool if lights do it for you.

      2. alex says:

        totally agree Andy. Ans may i add that perhaps one extra ingredient in the recipe of a great circuit is… gradient. Spa and Bazil have tall hills eith corners at top/bottom, it makes for great viewing and great overtaking. Cant believe the “designers’ have not cottoned on to this.

        Build circuits on hills, they look great and will make for great racing.

    2. Brace says:

      that might could have happened if ari was elected president, but now, i doubt we will see much change in the way f1 is handled.

  8. Greg says:

    James, do you have any confirmation if this race will be broadcast in HD, as was hinted at in the October edition of F1 Racing magazine?

    1. Rhys Xanthis says:

      yes i’ve seen this rumour on some other websites too! i would also like to know!

  9. Steven Sinclair says:

    Nice to see what the circuit will look like flood lit. I really hope the locals fill the stands because that is the only way this track will have any atmosphere. Why can’t they make tracks like they used to – Monza, Interlargos, Suzuka – all tracks that use the natural geography to create great theatres for motorsport. Don’t get me wrong, for a new track this place looks good. But, its pales into obscurity compared to the great tracks the track designers used to be able to create.

    1. Werewolf says:

      Indeed. The proof of the pudding will be in the racing but it does look good pictorially.

      I think there are probably two very basic and connected issues around modern venues. The first is locale: most seem to be in places without interesting geography to exploit (perhaps, excluding Turkey), such as deserts, plains or harbour areas.

      Why is this? Obviously, money is a major consideration but so too, I suspect, is contemporary environmental awareness. Nobody today is going to sanction a new race track on a forested hillside. An existing venue such as Brands Hatch couldn’t even get permission to fell its own (neglected and dilapidated) trees.

      The answer, if there is one, is to invest in the old circuits and bring them more up to date – and moreover for Ecclestone et al to stop chasing ridiculous financial deals and unnecessary VIP/media opulence in countries with no motorsport heritage at the expense of the core spectacle.

      1. DAN says:

        Hi Werewolf you are “mister consistency”, your posts are always good with no exception. Too bad Turkey can’t find a public and turn up a profit as of the new Tilke tracks it is the one the drivers like the most for its up and down layout.

        I wish we could see F1 again at Watkins Glen or see them race at places like Laguna Seca or Road America which both have lots of elevation changes but that will never happen alas (at least not under Bernie).

        Of great tracks of the past Rouen and Charade looked pretty good too and Montjuic as well but now they would sadly be deemed too dangerous.

        Maybe the solution to get great new natural tracks and bypassing major environmental concerns would be to use some piece of land owned by the military like at Salisbury Plain.

        Such land is usually far from constructed areas and when decommissioned in needs or rehabilitation so to use a small part of such place would be of less concerns to environmentalists. A modern track in such a place could even been landscaped like the Rolls Royce factory at Goodwood. Indeed it would cost a lot of money but it could be done.

      2. Werewolf says:

        Thanks, DAN, interesting idea – and one that some governments might even be willing to consider in these austere times.

        I, too, was a fan of the Glen; and F1 at Laguna Seca would be amazing. Of the very old circuits, Reims was rather special.

  10. Steve W says:

    Thanks James, another fantastic video!

  11. Simon jones says:

    Very nice! Who designed the track? Mickey mouse? If your going to spend ALL that money at least make the track descent and fun for the drivers! Awful

  12. Simon jones says:

    Totally agree andy. I think once the drivers have raced, deep down they’ll think it’s a stinker.

  13. Lustigson says:

    My goodness, that track is sooo wiiide, that they could just skip qualifying and have all cars start on the first row. ;-)

  14. Ben G says:

    Looks too dusty for overtaking.
    Bruno’s a bit slow, isn’t he?

    1. DAN says:

      Yes it looks like dust as so often on Tilke’s new tracks will be a major issue. What is the point of building impossibly wide tracks in countries where you know full well the real size of the track will be limited by dust imposing a single and very narrow safe racing line?

      If the promoters had enough money to build such facility how is it they seemed incapable to invest in technology to ensure a totally clean track? A quick fix solution would be to send Romain Grosjean ahead of the pack. He’ll clean unchartered territory in no time as usual :-)

  15. Kedar says:

    Sounded like a Ferrari engine, btw who is driving this YAS marina car?
    James another question to you do you get to drive any of the F1 cars given your connections with the F1 teams?

  16. Racehound says:

    by the way folks….that footage was Bruno Senna driving the Arab motor racing Prince Wassisname around the circuit for fun!!! That all they do over there atm, gettin some rubber down for next week!!! #:)

  17. Andrew Halliday says:

    Hi James,
    The track looks ok but I will reserve my opinion until after I’ve seen the race. I’ve been following F1 since the Australian GP moved to Melbourne while I was still living there in 1996; One of the elements of F1 I found exciting was that it was real racing and there weren’t too many restrictions. Drivers had qualifying cars, spare cars, could use any tyres they chose and qualify with minimal fuel. Compared to the Aussie V8 series, where there were mandatory tyre changes and pitstops, I found this openness for competition very exciting. Now in 2009, F1 has alas, like cricket, found itself relying on too many gimmicks. Requirements to use two types of tyre during a race, tightening of technical regulations, qualifying grids that are false because of the fuel rules and of course night racing. Whilst there have been some gripping races both this year and in years since 1996, I feel that much of this racing has been produced as a result of gimmicky rules. I wish we could get back to the quality of racing we had 10 – 15 years ago, then these gimmicks would no longer be required.

  18. Piket says:

    At time when being “green” is talk about in F1 where is the sense in wasting energy artificially flood lighting a circuit in a desert country?

    Another soulless track to line someone’s pockets.

  19. Matthew Villari says:

    omg that v10 sounded awesome

  20. Mario says:

    Why this two seater was designed in such a way that the bloke in the back seat can see absolutely nothing in front of him.
    Is this in order to tease or to torture him?

  21. Silverstoned says:

    James, with no refuelling next year, this star feature pitlane exit will hardly figure at all??

    1. Silverstoned says:

      sorry. Tyres of course, etc.

  22. alex says:

    V10! Bliss! I miss that sound. Glorious. The track? Eh.

  23. David says:

    Where are the best places to overtake on the track?

  24. Adrian says:

    I predict at least 1 Torro Rosso crashes in that pit exit…

  25. slavusha says:

    Another one boring Tilkedrom.

  26. this looks like all the other recent tracks, not a patch on the old classics that follow the contours of the land. To much sand off the racing line.. to surgical. Take a look at the best race of 2009 and that track is old school . i’ll take 9 races at spa and 9 more at interlagos and throw 1 in at monaco.

    1. Vannman says:

      The track does follow the contours of the land, its just flat.

  27. Flugplatz says:


    Do you share the view that Tilke is delivering a(nother) dull track here?

    Also, did you notice the interview with him in this month’s MS magazine? Seems he was very sheepish when asked how he gets to fill his boots every time a new track is required…

    1. James Allen says:

      What, you mean dull like Turkey with it’s magnificent turn eight and the first corner which always gives us a spectacular start? Did you see the GP2 race where Hamilton fought his way through from the back? Did you think it was dull then? I agree Shanghai is dull and I’m not much of a fan of Malaysia. As for Abu Dhabi, I’ll reserve judgement until we see 20 F1 cars going at it there.

      1. Brace says:

        Compared to some standard features on the calendar:
        Malaysia – bellow average
        Bahrain – bellow average
        Shanghai – bellow average
        Turkey – average
        Singapore – bellow average

        that’s what he meant…

      2. David says:

        Lol, Turkey is an average circuit? Come on, mate. It doesn’t have to be half a century old before it can be better than average. Everyone (including James, myself, and all the drivers) thinks Turkey is a great track, except for internet F1 fans.

      3. Jim, Belfast says:

        I think the problem is we compare these circuits to Monza and Spa, Montreal, Suzuka and Interlagos.

        Tilke has tried to come up with new stuff e.g. Shanghai turn 1 which is pretty unusual, Malaysia turn 4 which is full throttle in the dry, Turkey turn 8. The problem with all these circuits in the run off areas which means drivers aren’t penalised for mistakes. Coulthard likes that as he says you want to see 20 drivers on the circuit, but assuming safety is maintained then i think these circuits need to be more punishing. Bahrain is just a desert – my granny could drive round there cos you dont even need to stay on track!

        I think that given the drivers have experienced thse tracks now they should tighten them up with new barriers which makes it more chlaustrophobic for the drivers.

      4. Michael P says:

        James this was the most boring in car I have maybe ever seen.

  28. Brace says:

    after they have successfully sent mad max to his retirement, the next goal for f1 teams must be to send tilke to early retirement too.
    his tracks suck!

    i really don’t get it why are all those newcomers employing him to design their tracks.

  29. JohnSalles87 says:

    Este circuito tem tudo para se tornar o melhor GP de F1 até agora. parabéns!!!

  30. PaulL says:

    That circuit sucks!

  31. Jim says:

    Reminds me of Valencia, in that you never know what corner your looking at. As they all look the same.

  32. Buck says:

    I remember when glow in the dark bowling became a popular trend. The glow in the dark gimmick saved thousands of failing bowling alleys by rejuvenated an otherwise boring old game.

    Has Formula 1 also become so boring that it needs flashy gimmicks like night racing to keep viewers interested? Is it not enough to have the fastest cars and the best drivers in the world driving them to keep viewers interested?

    Marketing strategies, while a necessary evil in modern business is one thing, but judging by how things have been going over the past several years, there appears to be a definite emphasis in F1 on phony Hollywood styled gimmickry over the genuine auto racing shock and awe that captured generations past.

    I may be paranoid, but I suspect somewhere in the not so far off future, virtual races competed by drivers in simulators will enter the arena, being touted as both “environmentally friendly” and ” safe”.

    But ironically I will actually welcome this. Because then I will have just as much chance as any other couch bound shlub with a Playstation and a steering wheel to become a multi-million earning world champion.

    1. Neal Rayner says:

      There is a lot of talk here about the night racing being done for “the effect” or to try and be clever. The core reason for it is so the many European fans don’t have to get up at stupid-o-clock to watch the race.

      Which is a good thing.

      1. Gary C-G says:

        Better idea: Just have the races at the European tracks where the fans actually are instead of the middle east where so few people care about F1 that they only build the stands to hold 50,000 people.

  33. joseph farrugia says:

    thank you for this early taster of the abu dhabi track.
    i always wanted to ask a question regarding the pit-stop timings. in your article you mentioned the importance of the pits on this track.
    usually time is lost by drivers when they enter/exit pits but we viewers are very often left in the dark as to what happened exactly. would it not be better for FIA to show us another timer (or instead of the fuelling timer) when the car enters the speed limited area.

    thanks again and keep up your good work

  34. Jake Pattison says:

    Wow, there is certainly a lot of negativity and cynicism out there in F1 land :0

    I like the track, and I am very excited to think that new tracks are actually being built to ensure the future of this sport we love so much.
    Sure, it’s no Monaco or Interlagos, but 50 years from now it may be a classic itself. And we have the chance to enjoy it right now from day one rather than bitch and moan about it before we’ve even seen a race take place upon it!

    Let’s give it a chance shall we?

  35. Fausto Cunha says:

    Looks great, at someplaces looks like a stadium, i´d love to watch a broadcast of a night race in HD.

    I just hope that with the championships solved that the drivers goes flat out and take risks anda give us a great race.


  36. Wheel Drift says:

    Another bore coming up, had to keep asking myself if I was watching a Playstation replay!

    1. Michael P says:


  37. Adron Gardner says:

    Fire spitting V-10. Nice to hear that song again. Bring it back!

  38. Tom - Australia says:

    Everybody pray for rain.

    That’s the only way this race is going to be interesting.

    Or they could give everyone is the crowd water pistols…..

  39. Hanz says:

    Another track with poor overtaking options. KERS will probably prove more useful on tight field sections.

    There was a lot of hype around Singapore too, but in the end it was just another useless gimmick nothing more, no exciting racing other than some deliberating crashing of late…..

  40. Pete says:


    I’m a regular viewer of your site, usually using my mobile to look at it… I notice you’ve put WPtouch on your site so it appears differently on my mobile.

    I’m not sold on it – to view your site, I now have to click & get a new page for every blog entry – which takes quite a while over the mobile connection. My phone (running Opera Mobile) won’t store the cookies which the site relies upon to store preferences…

    Is there a URL which allows mobile users to bypass WPtouch? I liked the fact that your site just showed me all the content without requiring any extra clicks!

    1. James Allen says:

      We’ll get back to you.

  41. Tim Lamkin says:

    WOW a bit surprised at all the negativity on the circuit….IMO this will be one of the most interesting if not THE most exciting race this year…stay tuned this track offers much more then what the on-board showed…as a drive I see a lot of opportunities on that track.

  42. Tim Lamkin says:

    Where did I post go. ?

  43. DAN says:

    A few days ago I found this.

    Pat Behar is FIA’s photographer’s delegate and his pubic stream on Plaxo although very limited is quite interesting. It gives us an idea of what it’s like to work for the FIA.

    1. James Allen says:

      Pat is a fine bloke and a very good photographer. He is also has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Jazz music.

  44. Phil Waddell says:

    I have just watched a digital simulation of the circuit which included a car ‘spinning off’ at the end of the main straight and disappearing under the grandstand. I have to say, if one of the drivers has a Robert Kubica-style Canada crash at the end of the straight some of the spectators are going to get more than a mouthful of carbon fibre. The the retaining wall next to the run-off is angled away only slightly and could be hit at 90 degrees at full speed if a car has brake failure.
    Just a thought.

  45. Silas Denyer says:

    James: this is not related to this story, but just so you know; from here (at least), the latest 2 stories on your site don’t show up on the front page (I’ve refreshed several times), although they’re in the RSS feed and turn up in site search.

    This might a glitch local to me, but just in case I thought I’d let you (or your team) know…

    1. James Allen says:

      Must be, it’s working fine here. Cache problem maybe?

  46. Rich Jewett says:

    Whose double seater is that? I remember (I think) Minardi and Arrows building two-seaters way back when, not sure who else did. It looks a little like an A1GP car.


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