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”

  1. Ugh.

    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.

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

    1. So you don’t consider Senna as a pro?

      1. He wasn’t doing laps “race style” though.

  3. Jelle van der Meer
    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.

    1. 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.

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        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.

    2. 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,

      1. I hope it was just because he was going slowly. Three-stop strategies are discouraged enough as it is!

    3. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. Jelle van der Meer
        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.

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

  5. 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.

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

  7. 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.

    1. its coz he’s got a passenger in the back. so safety first!

      1. Precisely, I’m not even sure is he even allowed to take it any faster with ”civilian” passenger in the back.

  8. 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

  9. 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

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      15th October 2009, 12:40

      The President of the FIA has zero control of that. It rests in the hands of Bernie Ecclestone and FOM.

      1. Yes – zis is ze problem.

  10. 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: ).

  11. reminds me of china and Malaysia put together lol. Looks quite sweet.

    I bet the F1 drivers are annoyed that they cant test this year…i bet there watching the video and are like “bruno you ass i want to drive on the track”

  12. Dull dull Dull.

    Another Tilke drome, bland, unexciting and lets face it no challenge to the drivers. Drivers with no talent could get a decent lap round here.

  13. I think a constant chorus of “Tilke sucks, Tilke sucks” can make us predisposed to dislike a new track. I really want to give it a chance to host a race before hating it.

  14. Bruno was only going 100% on the straights would you want him to risk the safety of the passenger?

    you can clearly see he breaks early around the corners come on people use your heads.

    It’s ok my favorite part would have to be the exit part of the pits, its like driving up to a motorway.

  15. I wish the track was a real gun, then I could use it shoot myself to quell the boredom. I just hope the this track yields a good and exciting race.

  16. I am not sure how Keith reached to the conclusion that he reverse Eau Rouge is very slow. I hope Bruno’s dreadful speed wasn’t a factor.

    OKAY track. We should see overtaking. But that would be mainly due to cars trying to do a long stint (since, 1-stop seems to be the way to go) on the softer tyres on a very very dusty track.

  17. ZZZZZZZZZZ – looks like it’ll be duller than Hungary usually is without the chance of rain, awful awful.

    They don’t make track or road cyclists turn twisty little corners again and again to see if they can stay on, so why on earth make F1 cars do it? (F1 cars doing a stage of the Tour de France, now that I would like to see, even if only on the Playstation… should be a fantasy option ;p)

    Seriously, I agree with Keith that pitlane makes 1 stop strategies a no brainer, and with no refueling next year, no-ones going to risk a stop for a fresh pair of boots and a late charge. A custom built track should aim to have the shortest pitlane not the longest.
    The question is if two cars touch and spin in that pitlane hitting the wall – would that be a red flag? If it was coming up to everyone’s pit window and people were short of fuel, it’d have to be wouldn’t it.

  18. HounslowBusGarage
    15th October 2009, 12:28

    At least it isn’t all encased in concrete walls like Valencia, but it does look very pointy-squirty as others have said.
    There are six or seven gantries on the way round with open diagonal supports in them (one legged things that reach right across the track). Are these for signalling lights?

  19. Don’t like the look of it personally, I played around with it on rFactor (i know, it’s not the same thing) – doesn’t do anything for me though…
    Would have preferred to seen DC’s laps that he did last week in that two-seater.

    It would be interesting to see all the drivers going out on the track though, and once it’s rubber’d in to see what kind of speeds or variations of racing lines they take through some of the turns.

  20. CovertGiblets
    15th October 2009, 13:27

    I am afraid I share the sentiments expresses by most. I fear it will provide us with a rather dull spectacle. The pit entrance and exit are interesting along with the runoff areas under the spectators.

    Keith… we are all guilty of complaining about the new circuit designs, myself included. How about a competition to come up with a design for a new circuit? Complete blank sheet of paper and let’s see if we could do any better!

    1. Problem is: a race track-planner doesn’t have a “complete blank sheet of paper”. The investor wants the track to go around the edges of a marina – the planner has to incorporate that. The investor wants a stadium section – the planner draws one up. The investor wants the track to pass under his shiny new hotel – the planner fulfills his desire. Easy to build an interesting track like this, isn’t it?

      If you want to see what Tilke can do, if you give him an interesting location and a free hand in planning a demanding circuit, look
      here …and for the gradient here

      1. Prometheus makes an excellent point. Designers are very rarely given a blank sheet of paper.

        The plans for Blister-Berg look awesome! The longitudinal section shows heap of change in grade with some pretty steep sections, up to 10% longitudinal grade with tight vertical curves. It looks sweet!

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