Abu Dhabi F1 track – first video lap

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

A lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix track, which will host the final race of the F1 season this year, is shown for the first time in this on-board video.

The footage posted by James Allen shows Bruno Senna lapping the circuit in a two-seater racing car.

A couple of things strike you from watching the video:

First, the underground pit lane exit is narrow, but it looks like there’s enough room for one car to get past another if it becomes stuck.

But they’re going to spend along time on the pit lane speed limiter there, which will discourage drivers from strategies that involve lots of pit stops.

The opening sequence of bends (which were originally dubed a ‘reverse Eau Rouge’) don’t look anything like as quick and as challenging as we first thought.

At around 1’24 we get a good view of what the run-off area beneath the stadium looks like. This is an interesting innovation which will hopefully allow spectators to sit closer to the track without compromising safety.

It raises the question of what would happen if a car were airborne at the point where it goes off the track – presumably that risk has been assessed and deemed acceptable.

The entry to the left-right-left chicane at around 1’43 has a very flat kerb on the right which blends with an additional piece of track. We could see drivers getting into trouble for using too much of the entry kerb.

There’s not a lot of run-off area in the latter part of the lap, but that series of similar, sharp, short-radius corners is not very inspiring.

What do you think of the track and the video? Have your say in the comments.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Yas Island Marina Circuit - click to enlarge
Yas Island Marina Circuit - click to enlarge

118 comments on “Abu Dhabi F1 track – first video lap”

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  1. hmmm… not sure about this. looks pretty boring.
    hopefully those grandstands will be full – they look awfully big!!

    1. I hate to be a wet blanket, but this track looks hideously dull.

      Acres of runoff. Drivers should be punished for going off the track, like at Suzuka.

      It looks like a kart track set up in a supermarket carpark.

      1. It reminds me of the “Mickey Mouse” Turns 14 to 21 on Singapore, another of those pole to chequered flag tracks…

      2. kovy!

        yes! nail on the head, looks like a dusty karting track… throw a few apexs in and lots of alternate routes in a car park and you have yourself abu dhabi!

        bruno did drive it slow though, maybe it’ll be interesting.

        i totally agree that drivers should be punished for going off the track, they should throw down grass on the edges.

        then again, the dust off the racing line might be punishment enough.

        1. Keith rocks!! James Allen Sucks!!

      3. The pit exit is like a supermarket car park

      4. This video was a waste of 5 minutes of my life. Yawn.

  2. Prisoner Monkeys
    15th October 2009, 0:33

    Bruno’s going awfully slowly in places there … also, does anyone feel that it looks like the colours have been washed out?

    1. Looks like a liesurely sunday drive.

  3. Thanks for posting that Kieth.

    Looks interesting, a little more so than the other new tracks. Jenson should be hoping that the title doesn’t come down to this race, just because of the ‘unknown’ factor.

    Man those laps seemed slow, I think my moms Oldsmo-buick could have kept up :).

  4. Oh, dear.

    Very tight, mostly point and squirt. As Keith pointed, out, still more opportunities for “chicane cutting” and other off-track “controversies” (planned controversies, if you ask me) involving a Ferrari line, an everyone else line and decisions that somehow don’t make sense to everyone in light of Spa, Singapore and others.

    When you get to the few sections that are not tedious slow chicanes, there’s still nothing that looks genuinely challenging.

    There’s always a novelty value when we see single seaters on a new track and I felt it, for example at Valencia (where at least there is that final series of flat or almost flat kinks leading up to the pit straight). I expect there will be some novelty value with this one too, Peter Windsor et al will declare the new circuit a fantastic new Tilke design and it will get a certain buzz. But my impressions are that it will be regarded as a Valencia or a Hungary (actually probably sub-Hungaroring) in a year or two.

  5. The track layout isn’t exactly spectacular, but overall I like what I see. The underground run off, pit lane tunnel, hotel bridge etc aren’t things you’d usually get with a new track, the Hockenheim esque stadium section should be exciting, and the run off areas don’t stretch for miles on either side of the track, like they do in most new circuits.

    (Sorry to go all political, but my main objection to this circuit is that the Abu Dhabi government is prepared to spend billions on building as extravagent a circuit as possible, even though so many people in that country live in poverty)

    1. Don’t be sorry about the politics, Ned. In my neighbourhood the upcoming winter Olympics are going to cost a cool billion in security alone. Vancouver’s downtown east side is the poorest postal code in Canada. Will they see a dime? Not a chance.

      We could discuss politics in sports forever, and F1 is not immune from that disease, not by a long stretch.

    2. Erm Ned,

      United Arab Emirates is one of the richest countries in the world and also is one of the most developed.

      There is basically no poverty there.

      1. I can assure you that a fair percentage of people in the UAE do live in extreme poverty, people like the Asian migrants who will have worked through the heat of the day building this circuit, and been paid virtually nothing for it.

        There is of course money in Abu Dhabi, but they tend to waste it on things like F1 and Manchester City, and their Royal Family, rather than the people who need it.

    3. UAE is one of the most economically developed nations in the world. It’s not a poor country by any means.

      1. Ask the guys that build all these things. Paid pennies….its the side UAE keep well hidden. Not nice.

        1. How much do you think are payed the filipinos that clean your grans bottom in a nursing home?

          1. Well one bad thing can hardly be used to justify another. Besides, at least there’s a reasonable minimum wage in the UK, which is presumably something which doesn’t exist in Abu Dhabi, where the concept of human rights is hardly advanced.

      2. Just because it’s not a poor country – doesn’t mean people don’t live in poverty.

        The divide between the rich and poor is extreme – a country trying to develop and encourage people and companies to move aren’t going to advertise the fact its built by people who live in place that don’t have working toilets and sewers. Yes it all looks glossy on paper – but that is not the real side of the country – its just the advert.

  6. Why have got a chicane right before the hairpin?? It ruins any chances of overtaking there. I notice the track does go straight on there. Are they definitely using it?

    Another counterclockwise circuit I see.

    I’m not convinced about that run off area. Most crashes occur when coming out of a corner too fast. Just where the stands appear to be located!

    I agree with the pit lane exit – very tight. It didn’t look like there were any lights in the tunnel yet. Hopefully they’re still to be fitted.

    As you mention, the length of the pit lane will be crucial for strategy. Do you know if a time has been worked out for an entrance to exit stop?

    1. I think the chicane right before the hairpin is a good idea, it will let the cars follow each other closer into the hairpin and out of it to get a good drag down the stright for the OVERTAKING!

      1. I think this ‘reverse eau rouge’ will be much different and more challenging at full pace, but having the chicane right there before the hairpin… what a waste!

        we’ll never know now

      2. Surely without the chicane there would be enough flat out bend then straight to get drag into the hairpin and overtake under-braking. I don’t see anyone following anyone closely through the chicane or hairpin, but we’ll see, maybe you’re right.

        I suspect the real reason the chicane is there is to slow the cars for the spectators. I’ve never understood the logic of that, who wants to see F1 cars dawdling, I’d sooner see them flash past me in a couple of seconds at 180mph. The logical way to build circuits would be to create vistas where you can see them at full speed for a decent stretch then into a corner.

    2. The drivers will turn off the pit lane speed limiter when he passes the white lines at the end of the garages, he won’t be limited through the tunnel

  7. Truth be told, it looks a little dull to me – both the lap and the track. But the track does have a very long straight, and that speeds are upto almost 320kph there, so expect the KERS cars to be zooming through that part of track. And the fact that the race starts at sunset and ends in floodlights, I suppose that would make the race a little interesting (but isn’t that going to be some sort of safety issue?).

    1. Nah, if NASCAR and Indycar can handle sunset and night races, F1 can.

  8. Was that actually a full speed lap? It seemed like he was just cruising around for fun.

    Also, it seemed pretty dusty at the beginning.

  9. He went over the white line on pit exit. Oh dear.

    1. Bad Bruno! Stop & Go for you! :P

  10. Apart from the trackside facilities, it looks quite dull. I think Hermann Tilke may have upped his already stratospheric Valium dosage while designing this track layout. Hope its more exciting on race day.

  11. Valencia without the interesting scenery…

    1. Valencia had interesting scenery?!

      1. Building sites are interesting… aren’t they?

        1. I think he was refering to the bikini sightings.

          1. Can we hope to find bikini clad gals in the grand stands & yachts of Abu Dubai :P Or is it prohibited there? I’ve heard that drivers are not even allowed to spray champagne at Bahrain podium ceremony!! Could Dubai follow Bahrain? Its close by, isn’t it?

      2. Well, there was that shot of the rooftop pool with scantly clothed ladies at the start of the race. And there was one shot of the beach right next to the track…

  12. That almost put me to sleep. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how the track races.

    1. Agreed!
      I normally really enjoy in-car views, but I guess all of those I’ve seen before this one were at racing speeds.

  13. That epic pit exit is going to make the pit stop delta very long. The entry is before the pit straight even begins. I also expect a couple people to stuff it nicely coming down that little hill, on cold tires, into a tight bend, under the bridge—requiring a safety car. Why didn’t they just put the pits on the other side of the road?

    Otherwise, looks dull. The little hill in sector one is weak sauce. If you are going to drop this kind of coin on a track, get out the heavy equipment and recreate aqua minerali or the laguna seca corkscrew.

  14. I think it looks quiet good. The lap quite obliviously wasn’t at full speed. The grand stand section looks cool.

    It probably won’t match some of the older tracks as far as excitement goes, purely because of the safety requirements, but it looks more interesting than Valencia and Signapore.

  15. It looks like a brutal mutation of Singapore/Bahrain and Velencia. Flat, too technical (though the high-speed sector 2 looks ok), random buildings, track looks really dusty. I’ll give the track the benefit, but I’m expecting another boring Tilkedrome.

    Yes, I do hope I’m wrong :D

  16. I have one word.BORING

  17. I agree with people that yawn.

    It still looks like a gun. In fact, it looks like a purpose-built version of Valencia.

    It has too many sections that demand a slam on the brakes and not enough that demand flat-out or beg the car to destroy itself under g-forces. At least by bringing the spectators closer we have finally ascertained the knowledge that Tilke likes slowing cars to a crawl.

    The track needs more elevation changes, I think the most pronounced one was the pit exit.

    1. Yeah I notice a lot of off-camber/negative banked corners. Its like the cars are meant to go slow!

  18. That pit lane exit is so long that the only realistic strategy is a one-stop unless tire degradation is very bad.

  19. Another tilke, all the tracks are exactly the same!

    the chicane before the hairpin on to the back straight should not be there, there is no high speed corners, its like a huge runoff street circuit.

    Has Tilke done any racing, maybe Bernie should hire someone who has

    1. It would be interesting to see what a group of recent ex-drivers would come up with.

  20. Looks interesting, but doubt if it would produce exciting races. Just hoping for a sand storm :)

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      15th October 2009, 6:05

      Why? We had a dust storm down here in Australia a few weeks ago, and you could barely see more than a few metres ahead of your. Hell, in Broken Hill, it was pitch black. If ever there was a sandstorm, the race would be halted; there was a minor one in Bahrain during pre-seaon testing this year and that meant Ferrari and Toyota had to put their testing programs back a few days.

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