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Drivers’ reactions to new Yas Marina circuit
Drivers’ reactions to new Yas Marina circuit
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Oct 2009   |  7:24 pm GMT  |  20 comments

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.

Alo jap 1
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.”

Fisi AbuD
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.”

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well, to me another valencia, but prettier. you know there’s something wrong when the camera’s and commentators spend more time on hotel than the racing. tilke had a blank canvas and produced yet another boring monotomous track. the OWG has said that track design is massively important to racing. drivers will be able to tell you at which corners on which circuits there is an overtaking opportunity. what’s the point, when spendign millions on a brand new circuit, of designing something that just produces field spread.

several drivers have said that a real circuit is one that punishes mistakes. painted blue car park sized run-off areas isn’t exactly a thrill.


I thought the circuit looked extremely impressive on TV, which perhaps took attention away from the fact that the race was not first rate. I was pleasantly surprised that in a couple of places the barriers were quite close to the track. The cars are safe enough nowdays and if there’s one thing that kills the impression of speed, in my opinion, it’s large runoff areas. Safety is paramount and we never want to see serious injury, but (I’ll risk saying it) if there’s no consequence to going off the road the respect for the ability and bravado of the driver is greatly diminished.


Watched the race on the BBC. They spent the entire programme saying what a wonderful place Yas Marina was.

From my point of view it was by far and away the ugliest creation on the planet. A jumble of architects’ whims. A tasteless mess really. And all of it garish and loud. I’m sure the place looked far far better when it was a desert island. And the track itself was an indecipherable collection of alternative routes when seen from the air so you actually had no idea where the cars were going next.

Think of Spa, weaving through the forest, and compare it with that grotesque eyesore.

Only good thought is that it won’t last long. Just like the tower blocks which sprung up everywhere in the 60’s, forty years down the line it’ll be considered a monstrosity and spectacularly demolished. Or maybe it’ll be abandoned and the desert will reclaim its own.


“Fans’ reactions to new Yas Marina circuit, Yawn……


I wonder how much of this is PR driven and what they really think. I am sure we will find out after the event.


Although the circuit may look great, especially when lit up under the lights I have to make a comment that they in no way made it easy for the TV crew to setup their equipment!

The commentary booths are nice and large however TV runs on cables and in Abu Dhabi some brainless idiot thought it would be a good idea to install the worst cabling system to the booths from any of the tracks!

I just wish Herman Tilke and his company would ask someone from TV next time what they would like and what would work best.


Interesting. I also heard that the shuttle buses didn’t turn up after quali to take punters from grandstands to car parks, meaning a 40 minute walk.


Hello James,

We still miss you as commentator but your website is terrific.

Abu Dhabi is an incredible facility but rather cold and antiseptic. I miss trees and grass.

Watching the second practice and Qualification it was clear that there are too many tight corners. This is the apogee of motor sports so why the turn 6 chicane – if F-1 cars are deemed to need a chicane there who gets to drive without it ?!

Martin is a superb commentator and the entire broadcast should be Martin and Ted and find someone else for the pits. Someone should tell him that the term Centigrade has been a deprecated term since 1954. Celsius, please !

I so wish that Jake Humphrey would just shut up occasionally. He is very hard to take for F-1 die hard fans.

A happy winter to you from Lanark, Ontario, Canada,



If the end of the second straight was a Hockenheim-style hairpin, and then went straight to “Turn” 15 (the second kink in the triple right-hander), and they used the alternate part of the circuit at Turn 4 to make a Suzuka-style section before going right past the current chicane and into the hairpin, then this track would be one of my favourite designs. Oh, and if they grassed over the huge run-off areas – they look horrible.


I find these driver opinion interviews sometimes pointless

I am sure no driver would say “well, this is a total bore of a circuit the guy with the fastest car will get pole and lead all the way” If they do then they will be kicked out of the team I guess.

CNN who is getting a center in Abu Dhabhi calls is the best circuit on the F1 calendar?!?!?!?

I mean all the glitter lights and the structures around the track can hold a TV viewer glued for about 5 laps but after that if there is no ontrack action I am not sure if you can call it a great track unless there are places where the ontrack moves will be in your memory for ever (like Mika on Michael in spa or Fernando on Michael in Suzuka)


Just to have the pleasure of saying “I told you so” This was posted before even the qualifying session.


Kimi has said it’s pretty boring circuit.


You should watch more Mark Webber interviews.

I doubt there will be much overtaking tomorrow, mostly due to the qualifying being pretty straightforward (fastest cars at the front).

I think it’s a little harsh to criticize the track layout before we’ve really seen anything of it, I’ve had a go around it on GTR and it’s pretty fun to drive, especially the last sector. My only issue it it all looks pretty same-y, I guess I’m too used to seeing grass and sand traps.


A new track with great facilities, but whats the point in building so many stands, when they will never fill them, it looks terrible.


Didn’t I hear Legard say that it’s 50k capacity, and 50k sold for the race?


Correct, it is a sell out


It may have been reported as a sellout for Race day but on the evidence of Qualifying, I think we will be lucky to see it full!

It reminds me of the 1st races in Bahrain and China where the stands were filled either with school children (given a day off school) or people receiving free tickets that were shipped to both these venues 1st races to make the grandstands look full.


What no Trulli “he said”, Sutil “she said” malarky?

Your write about this earlier today was great. Listening to the audio of press conference on BBC-F1 was priceless. The laughter from the others was incredible. I think most people would have shut up with that much laughter at what they said. These guys must have Jupiter class egos.


I fear that it’s going to be another Hermann Tilke dud. Tracks like Interlagos has so much overtaking, yet most of these new tracks are dire at best.


REALLY hoping this doesn’t turn into a procession but my gut feeling is telling me it’s going to be a complete one because of the dust factor.

And I guess none of the drivers really complained about the pit tunnel, huh?

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