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VIDEO: First F1 onboard laps of Yas Marina circuit, Abu Dhabi
VIDEO: First F1 onboard laps of Yas Marina circuit, Abu Dhabi
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Oct 2009   |  11:32 pm GMT  |  155 comments

Here is something a little bit special; the first on-board camera laps of the circuit which will host the final round of this year’s world championship – the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.

Even the F1 teams haven’t seen this material yet – and they will want to because there are some amazing features, not least the pit lane exit, which is a tunnel with a corner in it!

The track is 3.45 miles long and has 21 corners. It’s going to be quite tough on brakes as it has four big stop zones, where the cars come down from almost 200mph to a second gear corner.

Picture 1
The footage comes from the session last week, when Bruno Senna drove a two seater F1 car around the brand new circuit. The out lap gives you a sense of the geography of the track and the flying lap gives you more of a sense of the racing lines and rhythm of the lap. It’s a great piece of footage.

It looks like a real KERS circuit, not least because there is a hairpin, like the one in Montreal, giving onto the longest straight in F1 at 1.2 kilometres. Apart from the straight, you would expect cars which were competitive in Singapore to be competitive on Yas Marina and I’m making an early call that the smart money should be on Lewis Hamilton and McLaren for the win on this track. It looks like McLaren territory to me.

I’ve got some good relationships with the people at Yas Marina and I’m proud to be the first to show this material on Hope you find it interesting.

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Track is so clean and perfectly presented. Nice brand new facility. I bet the Stig could blitz this quicker whether he be Schumacher or Ben Collins.


Ok, it’s a nice track, state of the art, a bit TOO modern. It’s obviously not going to be used for motorbike racing, however, which is gutting (safety issues with run-offs etc). I think thats a shame, as the trajectory of the corners in this circuit would make interesting wsbk/motogp watching.

Tony G – to compare it to Phillip island isn’t really a good comparison – there was a minute covering the top 10!!!


So why are two of my posts not showing up, I have not broke any of your rules or Guidelines


Not sure. There are so many comments it is tough for us to keep track. But as a general rule a comment will pass as long as it’s not defamatory, rude, overly long..or just plain stupid!


Webber said it all,it ain’t Suzuka is it? Another boring race ahead at another boring track, Suzuka Interlagos and Spa are the only tracks worth watching, interesting that there were more overtaking moves at Interlagos than there were on the Moto GP bikes at Phillip Island. You need momentum to overtake in F1 not slot car circuits


I heard that the turn 5 chicane was imposed by the FIA because the run-off at the hairpin wouldn’t be enough at the speeds cars would be going at Turn 6 (previously 5).


This track does not look that good. Does not look like there will be much overtaking. Track need more than just 2 places to overtake, which is the problem with Tilkes designs.


As opposed to tracks with no real opportunities for overtaking like Monaco?

I want to see the race, I think this track may turn out to be quite good once we get an actual race going there.

And all the Tilke hate does seem a bit strange to me. Sepang is, IMO, one of the tracks that actually gets interesting racing. Has everyone forgotten the 3 cars next to each other overtaking we had there a couple years ago?


The pit lane exit is epic! Will that influence strategy?


I would not be one bit surprised to ear drivers criticising the pit lane exit. Not so much the tunnel part which should be pretty safe assuming you are careful and there is not too much dust on it but the junction with the race track is quite short with no visibility whatsoever. See footage from 0:37 to 0:40. A car coming from the pit lane can’t see if there is a car approaching on the track and conversely a driver or group of cars busy racing on that section of the track just couldn’t see until the very last minute if a car is about to rejoin from the pit lane under their nose in what seems to be a very narrow corner. Expect cars to be t-booned there. Incredibly daft and dangerous design with nowhere to go to avoid an accident. If I were a pilot I would ask for a white line “even if it could only be a very short one” to be painted on the track at the end of the pit lane to make sure cars racing in that curve stay on the right inside leaving room to cars exiting the pits. The footage does not show the entrance to the pits, too bad.


Got to.


I don’t think we will see many 2 stoppers at this race despite I think it will be thisty circuit, any more on this James?


Going back to this circuit, it will be interesting to see F1 there next year when refuelling will be banned and all cars will be starting the race with a full load of fuel.

This year some races saw few cars struggling at the end with brakes and this circuit is probably one of the most demanding on breaks.

I think it will fun to see the F1 there next year, what do you think James?


I don’t understand why turns 5 and 6 are there. What’s the point of that bit? Is there a required number of chicanes on the new circuits?


I’m sorry you feel so jaded about it all. I’ve been in the business 20 years now and I still enjoy standing by the side of Eau Rouge, or Pouhon or Copse or Degner curve and I still regularly see something awesome. Turn 8 at Istanbul isn’t bad either. I like the look of Turn 2 and 3 at Yas Marina.

On your performance point, I think the cars have similar performance today because all the teams have similar measuring devices, like wind tunnels, CFD and so on. Yes the regs are tight, but if anything there is more scope for the field opening up a bit next year because use of wind tunnels etc is restricted so it’s about who’s the most efficient.

Oops, should have mentioned good post! Waiting on the next one!


James, I think in this circuit we will see the difference between good and bad drivers between tun 2 and 5 and 9 and 12.

With no traction control and all the gizmos, the really good drivers will be able to gain possibly up to 10-20 km/h in these 2 part of the track and gain a lot before the big breaking zones, what do you think ?


I think when they get into it and look to find the line and the rhythm of the lap they will find that there is more to it than people here imagine


I agree with that James and I think dust outside the racing line could be a big factor.

If you want to overtake in the breaking areas you will need to go in the dirty side of the track, Rubens will be delighted


That pit exit is really cool. Otherwise it looks average, like Bahrain and Valencia put together.


All you detractors are nuts! I would much rather go to this track than Donnington!


Add this to Sepang, Turkey, Bahrain, Valencia and China with the 5 mile wide straights and lack of atmosphere. No innovation, dull circuits and lifeless racing combined with the refuelling ban will make 2009 my last year of watching F1.


Its intresting how someone above mentions how they want Imola back.

however when we went to Imola everyone complained that the races were boring because overtaking was next to impossible there.

People also complain about circuits like Sepang, Bahrain, Istanbul Etc… coming in, yet its these circuits that often produce the best racing.

I saw a statistic a year ago which noted that Bahrain had produced the most on-track passes each year it had been on the schedule, with this year been the exception.

Istanbul has also produced some nice racing, 2006 was especially good. Same for Sepang, this years race was great untill the rain turned up with lots of overtaking in the Mid-Field.

Circuits such as Imola, magny-Course, Indy to name some of the one’s most recently dropped, were all nice tracks with history, However none of them produced good racing unless it rained.

The newer Tilke circuits may not have the history & may not be the most intresting, But more often than not they produce good racing & Id rather watch a good race at Bahrain or Istanbul than a boring race at Imola or Magny-Bores!


You may have a point with Imola but Indy had a long straight with a great opportunity for faster cars to pass as did Magny-Cours.


Its true that Indy & Magny-Cours had long straghts into slow turns, However neither produced much passing in the dry.

Magny-Cours was renamed Magny-Bores by many fans because of the boring races it often produced. They altered the final corners in 2003 to try & make a better overtaking zone but it didn’t work.

Don’t forget that in 2004 at Magny-Cours Schumacher had to switch to a 4-stop pit strategy to pass Alonso because it was impossible to do so on track despite been a couple tenths faster.

I always liked Imola & Magny Course but neither produced any decent races unless it rained so im not too sorry to see them gone.


Hi James, thanks for the insight, I’ll reserve judgement til race day I think!

On a slightly related note, do you think something like this would help or hinder Bruno in his bid to get a race seat next year? I mean, he can now claim to be the most experienced F1 racer at Yas Marina! 😛


I hear he might announce something this weekend in Brazil


whats with the mickey mouse ‘bus-stop’ at 52s? The track goes straight on till the corner couldn’t they have taken that option?


Thanks for the footage. Love the website. Thank you.

Leaving the pits down the hill, through the tunnel and back up reminds me of leaving the rental car park at Frankfurt airport. Depressing at best.

the rest of the scenery reminded me of what it would look like if you laid a track down in Las Vegas around the convention center buildings and through all those big empty car parks in between.

I love the “proper tracks” like Suzuka, Interlagos, Spa, Monza…

James, thanks again for this footage and this website.


Great track! You seem to be right James about it. It’s a KERS car circuit, although Brawn GP will not be too far beyond.


I think you are right. There are lots of big braking zones, which suit the Brawn


I think Ferrari will struggle like mad in this circuit, the have no traction and poor overall performance in a stop-start race.

Moroever I don’t think Ferrari’s kers is as good as McLaren.


Don’t really think so. Ferrari are usually flying in Brazil.


Agreed, must say though that the venue looks fantastic and I like the pit exit idea! As someone else mentioned though, hopefully no-one will crash into that concrete with cold tyres.


Odds on for an accident in the pit exit tunnel on cold tyres.


It will interesting to see the battle for pole, I can see a non kers car at the front with little fuel maybe do the business.

LH probably the winner and a very good track for Brawns with a lot of stop-start, traction will be a very big factor as well as breaking.

I think Rubens could do very well but Jenson smooth driving style will secure a good finish and the title.

I think Red Bull will struggle to score points


Jake, Martin & David from the Beeb went to the circuit from the Japanese GP to film a feature in the 2 seater car so hopefully this weekend there will be some footage there too!


Great footage James.

Looks like a McBrawn special with Rosberg filling to me!!

1st Button



Nah it’s KERS and brakes, McLaren.


James, hope to see you there, i’ve got the seats in the west grandstand which has a 60% view of the circuit.. is that alot?

also gonna be around in the pitlane on thursday


Have a great time. 60% view of the track sounds like quite a bit. The only other place like that is Interlagos and I doubt that is as much as 60%. Shanghai is probably 40-50% from the very top of the stands.


Nice scoop JA, very interesting although you guys need to get with the times.

I’ve been hairing round this track in an F1 car for a few weeks on rFactor. This all looked very familiar but a bit slower 🙂

If the models of other tracks are anything to go by, I already know where most people will be going off as well.


And where is that then?


Turn 5, 8 and 11 are obviously going to be coming together spots for overly ambitions overtakers.

The patience required before getting the power down coming out of the hairpin is immense. It’s very easy to Piquet into the wall so speeds along the straight should really vary.

The almost constant radius turn from 15 and 16 before the braking zone at 17 means that going minutely wide really compromises opportunities to brake for the next corner and it ends up messy although there is good run-off.

I think there may also be some issues or ruling on chicane cutting @ 8 and 9.


James – rFactor is an F1 Racing Simulator for the PC. It has a big community who “mod” the game with new tracks and the latest car designs.


What a tedious circuit.

Not thrilled at all by yet another Tilke fest.

A victory of style over substance like so many other soulless holes pretending to be race tracks.


I cant afford to fall asleep during this race as I have to be at work by 3pm that afternoon!

I was really hopeful for this track, but now the more I think and look at it, the more I think it’s gonna be such a processional, boring race. Rain is not going to be able to shake things up a bit either, considering the location! I hope the title is decided this weekend, because it will be pretty boring and unspectacular if it were to be in Abu Dhabi.


What do you base that assumption on?


I just dont see there being much over taking at this track, that’s all. After the first few laps I reckon the race will die down and that’s it – I hope not, but it’s got that sort of feeling to it. There will most likely be huge field spread after around 10 laps here.

It was interesting to read that the FIA’s overtaking workgroup suggested that maybe the tracks needed changing to facilitate more action, I reckon this could just be a prime example of that.

If the title were to be decided at Interlagos this weekend, then the atmosphere would be pretty electric. I know the home crowd will be cheering for Rubens, but there will be a huge party atmosphere regardless whether Button wraps the title up or not. I’m sure there would be quite a carnival going on. As far as I’m aware, the United Arab Emirates isn’t renown for it’s party atmosphere… I could be wrong though, havent been there myself!


If the cars can get anywhere near each other the turbulant air. KERS cars might be able to sort something out on the long straight although their tyres will be punished by dust/sand by going off the racing line (unless the track is gonna be vacuumed?).

The Brawn cars might be able to nip in on the slow corners for as long as their close enough before the entry. I guess I’ll have to be convinced come race day on this one!


Slow corner onto long straight (1.2km) into slow corner – I would have thought that had overtaking written all over it.


one word: brilliant


Thanks for the excellent video, James – on the ball, as ever.

This strikes me as a track which will take quite a bit of learning, people with good engine life left will be well-placed for practice miles, one wonders if Seb Vettel will have enough engine left to get much idea of it, at all. Even for the ones who get lots of laps in it’ll be well into the race before they really put their best laps together.

Not too exciting at first sight but let it mature a bit and get dressed for racing with all the banners, etc and it’ll come alive, hopefully. It’ll never be Monza, Silverstone or Spa though. Please, please, why can’t we have F1 at Mugello?

Pit lane exit is an aberration, I presume a crash there would stop the race? I hope Nico concentrates.


I’ll reserve formal judgement until F1 cars run around the track in anger but it would appear a certain Mr M Mouse has taken to designing race tracks….


Hiya James,

I’m not sure if you will have the time to look at this but I’m sure that you have seen some of the comments on the BBC F1 website in relation to showing of the classic GP’s.

The most recent selection omitted the 2003 Brazil GP. It would appear that the BBC have issues with the ITV years and the work involved with the commentary.

I’m sure that there is also an issue with money.

Can you shed any light on it?

Thanks for the link to the footage btw. I can see LH on the top step there….


They regularly show races from the ITV years, but use their own FiveLive commentary, 2008 is on this week’s selection for example.

I don’t know the reason 2003 didn’t make it onto the selection, did it lose out in the vote?


No insight I’m afraid. There may well be some copyright issues


Your VOICE has copyright issues?

The BBC appear to be screwing us all by not explaining if there really are legal issues. We would love some answers, if you don’t know then that’s a shame.


Reminds me of Shanghai – I’ve been to the Shanghai GP and, impressive as the circuit it, it’s a boring circuit.


…love the engine sound! Looks and sounds like 1997.

Just A Bloke (Martin)

That pit exit looks daft, an accident waiting to happen, dusty dirty. How soon before the drivers complain of poor visibility in the “tunnel” and extra lights are rigged up.

I’m with other posters here where is the spectacle ??


Great post James, you really do have the best F1 site.

Can’t say I’m a fan of the track, looks boring, flat and dull. The pit lane is interesting but will surely lead to some interesting strategies as you’ll loose so much time coming in and out!


I’ve never understood why Tilke is assumed as the Guru of race tracks. The man must go to sleep each night with an astounded look on his face.

“Need a new racetrack Jimmy? You need Tilke. Throw lots of money at him – it’s the only option.”

Listen, I can sit down with a pencil and paper and draw a random joining line. As necessary I could instantly adjust the scale to ensure it is approx. 4km long.

Therefore, I’d like to officially offer my services to the next Sultan of some other characterless dustbowl who has thrown countless golden buckets of cash at Bernie until he’s acquiesed – i’d accept a modest payment.

All i’d need to work my magic is the aforementioned pencil, paper and about 10 seconds. I can then sign it neatly at the bottom and hand it over to someone else in posession of a lot of tarmac.

And I will pointedly laugh in the face of any serious man who tells me there is more to it than that.


I think you’re right on the button – older tracks are often more interesting because they’re a little less designed (i.e. a little more random) and follow the contours of the Earth (i.e. they are a little more hilly).


Hi James, are you able to tell us whether the F1 cars have to negotiate that Mickey mouse chicane at turns 5 and 6?

It looks pretty dull though, I can’t imagine it will be conductive to any exciting racing unfortunately. Thanks for sharing though!


I hope that your good relationships have secured a room at the stunning yas marina hotel. Awesome architecture.

Definatley Mclaren territory. I expect we will see a lot of drivers missing braking points and not hitting their apexes because it is very wide and very flat with cryptic run off areas. The best thing about this track is the pit lane.


Sadly not, not that good!


i got a reply from the hotel people. it’s waaaaaaay too much! per night, you’re looking at about $700!!!


It seems to flow better than Valencia. Odd comparison for some perhaps, but they’re both marina circuits.

Two questions:

– Does having a tunnel serve an actual purpose, e.g. allowing cars to rejoin the track while staying away from the racing line, or is it… just for show?

– Any idea if cars leaving the pit will negotiate the tunnel’s corner at full speed, or will it be in the speed limit zone?


Wow amazing stuff James.

Can we bet how many cars will crash if that pit lane exit is not speed-limited? I say 4.

My money is on Hamilton for this one.


To crash at pit lane exit or to win?>????


Hmmm good question… both!!


It brings the cars out at Turn 3, so it should make the strategy pretty interesting. I’m interested to know what the loss time would be for pit stop, as you miss out the first two corners on your way out of the pits. Risk is a car hits the wall in the tunnel, but I’m sure they have thought about how to get it out quickly if that happens


Dust could be a very important factor in the pit lane and approaching the tunnel


They need some of those “mega-brushes” that the Japanese marshalls had – would clear a mashed car out of the tunnel in no time.


I think they are called bulldozers…:)


Which teams still have two seaters for terrifying/entertaining guests?

I know there was a trend in about 2003/4 for building them (Minardi started it?)

Or is this one of those cars run by a 3rd party?


Quite a few do, but they keep it under wraps.


Maybe that’s the answer to making F1 more interesting – require each team to run two-seaters instead, with the second seat filled by lottery of attending fans just before Q1.


Navigator in the front, pilot in the back!


I think it looks fantastic. I didn’t get the impression Senna was pushing at all on his ‘quick’ lap. There will be a real set-up question – presumably everyone will need to go light on drag for the super-long straight (and the other straights), so will be squirming around on the brakes and sliding on the slower corners. Plenty of overtaking as James says at the end of the straight. I agree that it looks like it will suit the Maclaren very well, and perhaps the Brawns more than the Red Bull.


I like that the circuit has a fast sector and a street circuit-type sector – far too many of Tilke’s designs are very similar as you go around the lap. However, the street circuit section doesn’t quite work for me. They should be whizzing past the walls, with inches to spare. They’ve also created some gradient but not really used it well as if someone was only half listening to criticism – all the apexes are far too easy to see. Even one dropping corner with an unsighted apex would have made all the difference. Which corner will any one talk about?

Fabulous facilites though, if only we could move them to Interlagos and have the best of both.


The saving grace is that there looks to be several overtaking spots on it. Other than that, it looks typically bland. Like all the Middle East Tilkedromes. Couldn’t hit a barrier if you tried.


This is probably the most boring F1 track on the calendar, where is the challenge? It’s like a kart track in the second half.

Who forgot that F1 car’s look their best through fast corners?

I wonder who sat there and stared at this stop-start design and design “Yes this will be spectacular”.

It’s going to be a procession.


James – who’s 2 seater F1 car is this? It doesn’t look like the old Manardi or Maclaren 2 seater?

The nose of it look likes this years Red Bull..

Great post though!


I believe it is what used to be the Minardi


i feel honoured – thanks for the response James – enjoy your weekend in Brazil!!


I have to agree with some of the other comments on here – the track seems to have far too many slow and medium speed corners.

The irony is that the rationale behind building tracks with this layout is to improve overtaking, yet there are few Tilke-designed circuits where this is borne out in reality.

Aren’t there any track designers out there other than Tilke?


James, thanks for the video, it’s great.

Pit exit should provide some suspens when one cars goes out to overtake another.

But the track looks boring… and it’ll be difficult to overtake with all these corners, and I’m not sure it’ll be more easy in the straight lines as cars will start these from low speed…


Thanks James.

I wonder if younger drivers have an advantage lkearning a brand new track with so many corners?

I didn’t realise it was a night race


A bit point-and-squirt, no? Removing the chicane after the pit exit would have been germane to a slightly bette flow IMO, although the absence of run-off makes that a no-go option apparently.


I like it. Nice, clean and tidy track, strait out of the box. Feels like a xmas present, a new toy to play with. I shall wait to see some real action on it before I produce an opinion, but first impression is good. Adds to diversity. It is good to have a variety of tracks. I think we are all very fortunate to live in such time of abundance of stimuli for our brains just for the sake of fun.

Thumbs up for the bloke who invented F1.


I know I said I will wait some time before I express my opinion, but watched the vid a couple more times and suddenly it just struck me that this track could have definitely been done better. The bloke who designed it started with a blank piece of paper, could have anything he dreamed of and he produced this… average track. Apart from a couple new, exciting features this is not a ground shaking achievement, is it? I have imagined myself doing the design and I say I would come up with better ideas, like introduction of tilted corners to start with. And there is just no limit to the imagination here and I must say that in this light, this effort by Mr Tilke, or whatever his name, is a bit dull for 21 century standards.

I wish I was wrong jumping the gun here and the race will have proven the track a success.


look boring and reminds me of Valencia, think we have another Turkey on our hands…


I think we may have another Lemon on our hands…but will reserve judgement until after the race…


Hi James,

Brilliant footage and insight into the track, Thanks for that. Is this still going to be a day night race? So will the flood lights be turned on. Just another question on the car which team was that? The color of the car and the team personnel was interesting. Seems however like the car was either poorly setup suspension wise or the track is extremely bumpy.( I am ruling out the possibility that the person in the second seat was holding the camera and was shivering with excitement)


Yes it will be a dusk into night race.


Amazing! Thanks James!

I love the pit lane exit.Iit’s something new and unique.

I wonder though, how much overtaking can we expect? The track seems to be wide with long straights and sweeping corners.


Plenty at the end of that long straight, I would imagine, a bit like the straight in Shanghai


Tremendous video. Thanks James.

Odd collection of buildings alongside the track toward the end of the lap.

I’m really curious to see the TV sight-lines. I know it is built around a marina, but you don’t get a sense of its location from the on-board footage.


Great but surreal video. Looks like one of my son’s Nintendo games!


Looks really nice actually, I’m surprised to say haha. Cant wait for the finale, part of me hopes it gets decided in Brazil, who dosn’t love Interlagos? But it would be nice to see a promising track carve a bit of history for itself.

Who was in the back seat by the way?


Very cool. Thanks for giving us internet proles an “insiders” glimpse!

With the exception of those two sweepers it looks more like a street circuit. Was that the intention? (one thinks of Monaco and Valencia with their adjacent marinas)


Pretty dull from my viewpoint from the back seat. Point and squirt and slow down. Another sand box, devoid of history, fans and excitement. Expensive settings with shiny glass and-gasp-bridges! Doesn’t do much to encourage racing.

Of course only a race will prove what it is really like, but when you take away the lights and flash from a race like Singapore, it really is nothing to write home about. I don’t expect the commentary from Yas to be elevated too far above the shiny new toy level.


Very nice video, the facilities look very impressive indeed. The only concern is that it seems to be all STOP-GO and nothing to separate the men from the boys ?


I think Bruno Senna’s lack of speed in the video masked how fast parts of this track will in fact be.

Thanks for the vid James, nice scoop m8.

Paige Michael-Shetley

I agree that Hamilton and McLaren look good to win there, James. But you’ve got to also consider Brawn a favorite, as well. The car’s strength is under braking, and it’s been good on the point-and-squirt stuff this year. Let’s also not forget that it will be quite hot (I believe the temperature in Abu Dhabi this time around is, on average, in the high-80 degrees Fahrenheit), which will also play into Brawn’s- particularly Button’s- hands in getting heat into the tires.

Red Bull were good in Singapore, but I’ve got to think this is not the track for them. The heat should give them problems with tire wear (what’s the tire selection for the race, James?), and they of course had brake temperature problems galore in Singapore.


Presumably Mr. Tilke is working up to his ultimate goal – an F1 track which is 4km long and has more corners than the Nordschleife.

You’ve got to try pretty hard to make Phoenix look like Spa, but it seems practice has made perfect for Herman. Soon, he and the Max & Bernie Show will truly have succeeded in sucking the last drops of soul out of the sport.

Say hello to spec engines, spec suspensions, spec aero, spec electronics, and spec parking-lot tracks. Say hello to 80 years of tradition and history being kicked aside in favor of governments with big wallets.

Thanks, FIA and FOM – I’m sure that Collins, Rindt, Cevert, Bandini and Senna would be pleased to see what you’ve made of the sport they gave their lives for.

We gave up engines that made the hair on your neck stand up, and that we could tell apart from a mile away; we gave up tracks that were part of the landscape in favor of tracks which obliterate it; we gave up knowing that an F1 car was the best anyone could build; we gave up brutal power; we gave up progress, innovation, passion, and honesty.

But, hey – we have a tunnel with a corner in it. So that’s OK then.


totally agree with you David. Where are the elevation changes to make a circuit interesting?

How can you spend millions designing a circuit and yet create such a stupid pit exit.

What happens for instance when someone sticks it in the wall on the left hander into the tunnel.

Shame it won’t rain then the tunnel could become some sort of water trap!



That’s like saying “What happens when someone sticks it in the wall at Swimming Pool in Monaco?” It’s a feature, a built-in challenge and it’s a talking point. I’ll be interested to hear what the drivers think of it in two weeks time.


So, here’s a question for you, James – Do you know anyone who thinks that clamping F1 down to a spec series and eliminating the classic tracks one by one is true to the heart of the sport? I sure as hell don’t.

I have yet to meet someone who said, “Thank goodness Imola has been got rid of and the forest section of Hockenheim has been bulldozed.” I have yet to meet someone who said, “The spirit of F1 is that all the cars should have the same performance.”

Unfortunately, I’m guessing you can’t tell us what people have said for the same reason I can’t post my last name on these comments – we’re in the business, and failure to spit out the correct sound bites will do severe damage to our careers.

When a team comes to my company to do a project about this track, I’ll dutifully trot out the press release tripe about the wonderful facilities, exciting tunnel, and close racing, because that’s what’s going to feed my family and educate my son.

And then I’ll go take a long, long, long shower.

Everybody – put on headphones, shut your eyes, and listen to this:

…and consider that with engine regs tied down drum-tight and car designs almost completely standardized, we will NEVER HEAR A SOUND LIKE THAT AGAIN. We’ll never hear the sound of engineering let loose and the limit pushed again.

Never again. Never again. Maybe you can answer this, James – does that make you happy?


I’m sorry you feel so jaded about it all. I’ve been in the business 20 years now and I still enjoy standing by the side of Eau Rouge, or Pouhon or Copse or Degner curve and I still regularly see something awesome. Turn 8 at Istanbul isn’t bad either. I like the look of Turn 2 and 3 at Yas Marina.

On your performance point, I think the cars have similar performance today because all the teams have similar measuring devices, like wind tunnels, CFD and so on. Yes the regs are tight, but if anything there is more scope for the field opening up a bit next year because use of wind tunnels etc is restricted so it’s about who’s the most efficient.


Completely agreed David!


Yeah, well said David.


Got to say I’m with you all the way, David.

And James, is there any truth in the rumour that the extra soldiers we are supposedly sending to Afganistan are really just being sent out to Abu Dhabi to fill the stands?


Thanks for that James, most interesting.


Great stuff James! your site is just awesome! You are the most up to date f1 journalist. Your site and commentaries are the best.


Well… fantastic scoop, James! Congrats!

1) Its flat, flat, *flat! Like Kansas.

2) LOTS of armco and concrete walls, like a city street circuit, with some places that dont seem to have any runoff space.

3) Dont like those fake, painted-on chicaines!

4) Totally goofy pit exit will make for some interesting mishaps.

5) Its all beige-boring colour. They could at least paint the sand green or something!


Thanks for the footage James.

It looks like a world class, immaculately planned F1 facility but, with all due respect to Tilke and the creators of this track, a flat, boring, featureless racetrack. There are no gradient changes to speak of.

Where are the new tracks with sweeping uphill corners and blind apexes? Anyone who has driven on Pau or Mt Tremblant will know what I am talking about. I am underwhelmed but maybe the actual race will change my mind.

I am hoping the race is exciting and, for the sake of F1, my initial impressions are wrong!!


That would be Portimao, Portugal, and San Luis, Argentina, they are out there.


daft question james. but if there’s an incident in the pit exit/tunnel section that blocks the track, how might the safety car exit and collect the field?

i guess this is an issue at all tracks, but with the longer and tighter pit exit in abu dhabi, might it pose a bigger risk?


it gets worse every time I watch it …


Another boring design form Hermann Tilke, all stop/start, there is nothing flowing or interesting about this track bar the pit exit.

Whats the spectator levels going to be like, on race day are we going to see full grand stands or 2 or 3 people sitting there marveling at F1 cars racing in a fancy dust bowl.


looks like a very kers oriented track. this will definitely make things interesting if button doesn’t clinch the championship at Brazil 😛


Wow! thank you James.

Not in to the new circuit, looks like something out of that game called WIPEOUT on the Playstation. all new and no style.

start yes with to many forced stadium parts…. but i guess you pay you get f1.

BTW great website!


What a strange pit exit. James, do you have any sense of the speed cars will be at as they rejoin the circuit from pit lane? ps. fantastic site


Well, this looks like the most boring GP track I have seen in years. Looks nice … but not expecting an exciting race.


Great video, though my initial impression is that the grandstands and underground pitlane are the most exciting features, as the circuit itself looks very uninspiring. If it generates good racing / lots of overtaking then it will be good for F1 though.


Visually the facility looks stunning. Take away the view though and the track is average.


As I was born and gre up in Dubai i cant understate how excited i am about this track. I love the intimacy of the pit straight and the North hairpin. The speed of the back straights will make a great contrast to the twisty waterfront section.

They have put in a lot of effort to make it unique, I hope it isnt judged to harshly,when the island develops properly it should get a real character.

I am going to be in the UAE when it is on, but just managed to mis out on tickets. Dont suppose there is a chance that your relationships with the people there could get hold of a ticket for a massive f1 fan who has never been to a race?

Thanks so much for the video, i cant stop watching it!


Nice one, great to get an idea of what to expect in the final race. Lets hope the title is still up for grabs


I asked them why they don’t have children’s tickets, and they said that they do, but they are the same price as adults. If that’s the level of service to expect. I’m going to stick to Bahrain instead.


Amazing footage James, thanks for posting it here first. Your site is the number 1 source for F1 news and information! Keep up the great work.


Thanks for the footage James, but I have to say I am completely underwhelmed by another dull looking new F1 circuit.

Another grey concrete jungle. Maybe a couple of quick corners, but the lap is dominated by that awful sequence of short straights and right angle corners. I predict a tedious processional race.

Yawn, a tunnel out of the pits, about as exciting as darkness and a welded closed bridge over Valencia harbour. Tilke has no clue what makes an F1 race exciting – it isn’t stupid gimics.


“Grey concrete jungle’ is a good description. That pit lane exit tunnel won’t be boring if something happens in there- I am amazed that the FIA has allowed such a thing. And that first chicane appears to be so slow that you could get out and stretch while going through it. One big yawn…

But, I’m the guy who thought that the Valencia track was going to be brilliant. I hope that I am just as wrong this time.


Can’t agree more… It’s an oversized cart track, nothing to do with Formula 1.

In any case, James: thanks for showing us this!


Kart, not CART – big difference



Of course – my mistake 🙂


A real coup, James, thanks for that.

The track looks very technical but at least three of what should be overtaking opportunities seem to lead into tight double bends, where the overtaking driver will be offline for the second part and likely to have to cede any gain almost immediately.


Cheers James! Footage looks good, track looks brill!

It looks like a pro-McLaren and Brawn circuit to me….


That pit exit would be interesting without tire warmers.

Plus is that the end of pitlane just before it heads down hill?


It would have been, except that they have decided to keep using them – was decided a few weeks ago. Not sure why – I guess it isn’t really a big cost item, and could be a safety issue. Cool tyres = lower pressure leads to bottoming and unpredictable handling?


Well Nico still had a costly moment in Singapore and the exit is nowhere near as tight as that. So I think we should expect some problems.

Also it seems the exit of that corner is obscured, so that also could cause an issue or two.


No fast exciting corners whatsoever by the looks of it. Did one Mr Tilke design this track? Certainly looks like it. Very stop-start.


I wouldn’t say that – Turn 2 is a 6th gear 160mph corner followed by Turn 3 a 5th gear also 160mph corner.


I’d argue turn 1-5 are the only part of the circuit that wasn’t dictated by circumstances.

Certainly the whole section around the marina (14 to start-finish) had to be that way because the sheiks want to fill up their yacht parking lot and the two long straights into tight corners are unavoidable on a modern F1 circuit because the cars can’t pass each other otherwise. None of that is Tilke’s fault.

I don’t understand the Tilke hatred. Most of his tracks aren’t that bad, they generally produce watchable races and if the location of races is determined by money and being close to key markets instead of interesting topography there’s only so much you can do.


I must admit that I thought it wasn’t all that quick, until the flying lap then you see that some parts are pretty flowing. I think the chicane after the pit exit probably breaks the rhythm a bit. There is a balance of slow technical and high speed corners, and I even think I spotted an overtaking opportunity!

I like it, it reminds me of Thruxton (well the go-kart track anyway).


But it doesn’t look like there’s any Blauchimonts or Degner complexes, plus the track is predictably too wide. I agree with Ollie, it looks like another Tilke unimaginative design.

I think F1’s taken a step back this year from the 3 previous seasons disappointingly, so a mediocre final race, especially if it’s an easy KERS victory, may do it justice.


The problem isn’t solely Tilke though, it’s the ridiculous safety regs that dictate things like maximum camber (12 deg IIRC), max elevation change angle etc.

That, and having to make tracks on flat pieces of land – look what he was able to do with Istanbul (OK, it’s no Spa or Monza, but it’s what I would call a “modern great”).


Although it might look flat, apparently there is an 18 metre incline from the main straight to turn 3. DC is reported to have said that it has a street circuit feel to it around the marina bit, where the boats will be.


It feels like we’re building circuits from slot car racetrack pieces where oil sheiks and billionaires want to have a vacation rather than building luxury grandstands next to a spectacular pieces of tarmac.


Brilliant footage. Thanks James.

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