Abu Dhabi F1 track – first video lap

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

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118 comments on Abu Dhabi F1 track – first video lap

  1. wasiF1 said on 15th October 2009, 3:58

    I have one word.BORING

  2. 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.

  3. Kimster said on 15th October 2009, 4:19

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

  4. Harv's said on 15th October 2009, 4:30

    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

  5. mp4-19b said on 15th October 2009, 5:07

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

    • Prisoner Monkeys said on 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.

  6. Eastman said on 15th October 2009, 5:08


    I really had hopes Eau Rouge 2 – Sands of the Middle East might make this track palatable, but it isn’t. At all. As others have said it’s featureless, far too tight, and with just a corner or two that are viable for passing in.

    If we see a single change of position not involving the pits we’ll probably be lucky.

  7. Rugel said on 15th October 2009, 5:52

    Not bad, just have to see how the pros do on it.

  8. Jelle van der Meer said on 15th October 2009, 6:34

    They really should remove the chicane before the hairpin, that would make it already better for overtaking.
    As it allows for different lines, brake earlier and accelarete earlier onto the long straight or brake very late but sacrifice speed on straigh.

    The pit exit might be the coolest thing of this track – I hope that part is not speed limited.

    As many have already said what is the point of sector 3, you are in the desert have all the space, not bound by city blocks and you design an inner city section.

    • mp4-19b said on 15th October 2009, 7:01

      Tilke could’ve done a better job be adding some elevation changes. there are hardly any visible ones. Camber=0??? Detroit street circuit is miles better.

      • Prisoner Monkeys said on 15th October 2009, 9:13

        Did you not notice the one in the second and third corners, with the blind turn in on each corner? Or the way they’ve played around with the camber at eight and nine? And down at the chicane, which is once again completely blind?

        Television is terrible for showing height, but the rise through the second and third corner is eighteen metres high, the size of a three or four-storey building.

    • I don’t think it is speed limited because there is a big white line at the end of the pits (with the trafic lights) and I think on every other tracks the speed restricted section is only on the stright of the pits,

    • I don’t think the section would have been long and straight enough to allow overtaking into the hairpin, so the chicane is a good idea in bunching the cars up for a race down the long straight.

      Ideally though, they should just the opposite way round! I think that would be a much better lap, especially on Lap 1 as everyone would be close together in the twisty section.

      • Dave F. said on 15th October 2009, 13:52

        I think it would:
        Accelerate out of corner 3, corner 4 is an acceleration zone (even Bruno in his tourist mobile was changing up!), ignore the chicane & late brake into 7, the hairpin.

      • Jelle van der Meer said on 15th October 2009, 15:49

        The otherway round would make a really interesting pit entry – racing F1 cars through that section. Or people rushing in and hitting the wall in last tight corner.

  9. Why blame Tilke? He works for Bernie. Bernie wants it safe and boring. Mission accomplished.

  10. ajokay said on 15th October 2009, 9:21

    Bruno is gonna have a tough time getting into F1 next year if all his laps are driven like that.

    But I guess the reason for the conservative method of getting through corners was due to the fact that the track was dusty, the tyres were cold, and the car had a passenger on board. I guess at racing speeds, some of those corners will look more impressive than they did in the video.

    I failed to see the run-off area go under the grandstand though.

  11. stren said on 15th October 2009, 9:52

    The track looks slow and unexciting. In an F1 car they will be constantly on the breaks after a short acceleration.

  12. Scribe said on 15th October 2009, 9:54

    It’s like his not even trying.
    Surely Bernie wants large audiences, surely the way to get that is through exciting tracks, sureley the best way to acheive that is if the tracks don’t all looks the same, feel the same, drive the same, and bore the hell out of all souls involved.

  13. Marco said on 15th October 2009, 9:59

    Like really, how hard can it be to design a track that looks interesting and it fun to drive on? There’s no colour, no good scenery and its flat. Except for that gimmicky pit lane exit. I swear I could design something better than this

  14. maciek said on 15th October 2009, 10:10

    ugh… one giant leap for marketing, yet another small step backwards for F1. If Ari Vatanen becomes FIA president, is it possible he may force changes in the track selection process?

    Vatanen meets with Mosely

  15. Not a full-speed lap, so it’s difficult to judge based on this.

    I’m liking this track more and more. Definitely better than Singapore and Valencia, I’d put this up with China in my rating of Tilke tracks. Alas, with modern F1 how it is, and being on a dusty circuit, this circuit probably won’t be showing off its full potential. At least we have the chicane-hairpin, which should bunch people up for some genuine overtaking, and nice to see the chicane after the second long straight/curve isn’t another Singapore Sling. And the final section of the lap isn’t as boring as I feared it would be, though I’m getting sick of these slow twisty sections; they should have extended the small straight between Turns 14 and 15, so that 16 is as “high up” as 19 is, before coming down again to Turn 17 (reference: ).

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