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. LewisC said on 15th October 2009, 13:41

    Have to say it’s not grabbing me. The pit exit looks really tight and it’ll be dusty (the dust will collect in it) so it’ll kill the heat in the tyres and be slippery… I predict at least one driver dropping it in there. Then the rejoin to the track is crested so they won’t be able to see anything coming…

    The straights are dull, the run-off area under the grandstand at the end of the long straight is a gimmick and as said above, most accidents happen on the exits of corners, not from people going straight on (Webber in S’pore, Massa in Hungary, Schumacher at Silverstone 99 being notable exceptions). Come to think of it… what is at the back of that run-off?

  2. I appreciate there’s been at least some effort to create gradient, the up- and downhill run after Turn one looks interesting to me. The lot of slower corners following in quick succession seem pretty technical.

    It will be a little different to see Formula 1 cars at actual racing speeds — a demonstration run with a two-seater (that looks a bit like a modified GP2 or something like that) on a dusty track doesn’t exactly match what speeds we’re likely going to see on the GP weekend.

  3. Wesley said on 15th October 2009, 14:29

    yaaaaaawwwnn….

  4. I am really really pessimistic. I’m pretty tired of seeing sharp 90 degree corners. What’s happened to the long constant radius corners? I want to see a Carousel, not a square.

    I’m also tired of seeing plain and boring 90left-90right chicanes because all they do is create space between cars and controversy for corner cutting.

    Oh lets make a track unique by creating a random underground pitlane, a hotel goes over the track, a run-off area going underneath a grandstand. Super(!)

    Oh well, lets see if the racing is any good, and if it is, well I’ll have been proved wrong.

  5. vettelfan said on 15th October 2009, 14:49

    It doesn’t look particularly exciting, but I am trying to reserve judgement until we see an F1 car go round there at full speed.
    The pit exit looks..er, interesting to say the least. Reckon that could through in some trouble.

  6. AJ Ball said on 15th October 2009, 14:55

    It’s a bit repetitive.
    Three tight hairpins, seven right angle bends, three slow chicanes, two looooong straight bits. Compare with Suzuka where each sector has a totally different challenge in it. Apart from the hotel crossing there’s not much ‘wow’ factor.
    Hopefully there can at least be some racing.

  7. I don’t understand the need for the underground pits bit thing shoved in.

    • Prisoner Monkeys said on 16th October 2009, 0:53

      Because to do a normal one would mean putting the pit exit square on the racing line for the first turn whether it came out before or after the corner itself.

  8. Another track with no overtaking. The race should be very boring because cars will constantly be turning. :(

  9. gwenouille said on 15th October 2009, 15:52

    I am not that pessimistic.
    I’d say we leave this track a chance before destroying it. I think there are some overtaking spots in it.
    I agree it is a bit too technical and over-turny, but i want to see 20+ cars trying at their best to make my mind.

  10. Brian said on 15th October 2009, 17:04

    I have no doubt that it will be boring. The only way it will be exciting is if the championship comes down to this race. If Button wins it in Brazil, then the race here will no only be boring, but pointless to watch. I will still watch, but I will be asking myself, ‘why’.

  11. Brawn said on 15th October 2009, 17:07

    the worrying thing for me was how dusty the pits were. Hopefully they will sweep it up a bit :) think the video would be much better in an f1 car, that video seemed sooooo slow.

  12. James_mc said on 15th October 2009, 17:58

    I like the dust. And generally the first part of the lap.

    I dislike:
    The chicane before the hairpin – particularly as it could easily continue straight on into a less tight, potentially faster and thus more fun/intersting/challenging left-hand acute corner.

    Not to mention the stupid slow chicanes similar to the infield of the Indy Circuit

    • Prometheus said on 16th October 2009, 16:24

      You have to look at this circuit in a wider context. It is “just” one piece of a huge real estate development project. The stadium section has to be there because this part of the track the connection between the circuit and the “Ferrari World” theme park. (Picture)

      And that’s also why the chicane has to be there: to be able to get the stands right next to circuit without run-off area between, you need to slow the cars down before the hairpin.

  13. I think it looks better than the other Tilke tracks at the moment. There are at least two good overtaking opportunities and maybe two or 3 more half as good and the lack of high speed corners should mean that cars are able to follow each other better which should also lend itself to overtaking. More overtaking = Win.

  14. Is it just me or does anything else think Senna wasn’t really going for it during those laps. With the sound on and listening to the engine he seems to be braking very early.

    • Dave F. said on 16th October 2009, 0:27

      He’s taking tourist around in a two seater for crying out loud!! Did you not read any of the other posts or actually look at the video?!

    • Prisoner Monkeys said on 16th October 2009, 3:10

      The organisers are projecting a lap time of 1min 40sec. Senna did two laps in five minutes. You do the math: he’s nearly a minute off the pace. But if you’re watching, you can tell he’s not trying too hard, particularly going into the left/rigt at the end of the main straight when he starts braking in the zip code before the turn.

  15. Spin Beaumont said on 16th October 2009, 1:23

    Maybe I’m still too new to this sport (about 6 years) but I don’t think it will be boring. I see lots of room to pass and I don’t mind all the extra runoff space as I don’t want any of the drivers to get hurt in case of an error.

  16. wow, 1,500,000,000 u.s. dollars….

  17. Looks like an airport without the planes.

    Someone said it was safe – not too sure especially the pit lane exit next year with full fuel tanks.

    I would have thought Abu Dhabi ( if that where it was ! ) could have made abetter a job of it although on reflection the mess they have made with Abu Dhabi itself I am not surprised.

    • Prisoner Monkeys said on 16th October 2009, 3:22

      Someone said it was safe – not too sure especially the pit lane exit next year with full fuel tanks.

      I think people are making far too much of the pit exit. When was the last time anyone stopped in pit? Look at Interlagos, which has the longest pit exit on the calendar and has two blind corners. You don’t protest about that. Or Singapore, which has part of the circuit running under the grandstand, not unlike the Abu Dhabi pit exit.

      It’s not as if the organisers simply dropped it in there. They would have consulted the FIA on it, the FIA would ahve reviewed it and made suggestions. You can bet that there will be a flag marshall stationed there, just in case. And even if someone does expire – again, when was the last time someone stopped in the pit exit? – the circuit is wide enough so that they can be cleanly passed by anyone on approach.

      I fail to understand your argument that it will be unsafe because people will have full fuel tanks next season for two reasons: 1) by the time they get to the pits, they’ll have burnt off quite a bit of fuel, and 2) when was the last time a Formula One car caught fire? I think it was Pedro Diniz back in the late 1990s, more than a decade ago.

      Put it this way: if the pit exit was considered unsafe, it never would have been built. The plans have to be submitted before any construction could begin, and anything unsafe about it would have been picked up very quickly.

      Personally, I think you’re just looking for reasons to dislike it.

  18. Mario Roberto said on 16th October 2009, 3:50

    Beautiful track, but it’s more like a resort club than a race track.

  19. Wow, I must be in the minority. I thought the track looked really cool. I took into account that we need to see and F1 car but I thought it looked nice.

  20. gazzap said on 16th October 2009, 14:32

    How boring. I cant beleive they have decided to put the last race of the season at a circuit like this – a decision no doubt based on money. I just hope that the title is decided at Interlagos even more now.

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