Yas Marina Abu Dhabi by Populous

How Yas Marina could be changed to aid overtaking

2011 F1 calendarPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Yas Marina Abu Dhabi by Populous
Yas Marina Abu Dhabi by Populous

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race organisers have been urged to make changes to the Yas Marina track to improve opportunities for overtaking.

But with several permanent structures in place around the track, re-configuring it could prove difficult.

This exclusive image produced for F1 Fanatic by the architects who designed Silverstone’s ‘Arena’ extension show how a revised Yas Marina track could look.


Populous were approached by Silverstone to revise parts of their circuit in order to allow Moto GP bikes to race at the track.

The revisions went down well with F1 fans after the first Grand Prix on the revised layout, with 80% saying the changes were an improvement.

But whereas the grandstands at Silverstone are temporary constructions, all bar one grandstand at Yas Marina is permanent. This means the footprint of the circuit is very tight, giving them less scope for change without incurring significant costs.

Drew MacDonald, motorsport specialist at Populous, points out the limitations on any future changes to the track:

We’ve tried to ensure that none of the existing stands would need to move so that Yas Marina can continue operations – ticket sales and so on – with minimum disruption.

Unfortunately there is little that can be done with the long back straight – which came under some criticism for being too long – due to a tunnel.

This is a major, six-lane access road to the centre of the circuit and would cost in the regions of millions of US$ to change as well as causing significant disruption to track activities.
Drew MacDonald

Within those limitations Populous have suggested changes to the track in two areas to improve opportunities for overtaking, mainly by cutting out the track’s slow, narrow chicanes.

There have also been rumours that Yas Marina is hoping to attract a Moto GP race of its own, which they have also kept in mind.

Turns three to seven

Adrian Sutil in the turn seven hairpin, 2009
Adrian Sutil in the turn seven hairpin, 2009

The chicane in front of the hairpin is there for a reason but it also causes problems for drivers trying to overtake:

The run-off at turn seven is insufficient – that’s why there’s a chicane before the hairpin.

Since the grandstand is a permanent structure, which forms viewing for the arena behind, moving it is not an option. The only other option would be to move the hairpin further back, but this would detract from the viewing experience.

We think it’s best to try and leave the track grandstand relationship as it is but change the way the speed is moderated prior to it.
Drew MacDonald

Populous looked for a different way to slow the cars down before the corner without inhibiting overtaking:

We’ve maintained our philosophy that the first hairpin is followed by another overtaking opportunity very soon afterwards. We found that for F1, Moto GP and sportscars, this worked very well with the relationship between ‘Village’ and ‘The Loop’ at Silverstone

We’ve removed the chicane by taking the track slightly further infield. This also creates a new turn four, which is a sweeping left-hander approached at speed.

That leads into a tight, but wide, first hairpin followed by a double-apex tightening left-hander, similar to the Courbe de Caupenne at Nogaro. We used a similar geometry on the Dubai Autodrome and it often catches drivers out on the exit.

This is a challenge which will control speed through the corner down to the next hairpin. The existing hairpin would then be used as a more traditional hairpin which we’re showing widened.

What we learnt at Silverstone is that by bunching the cars at Village they do have a go at the loop and again at Brooklands, which ideally would be a little tighter. The modifications made here are trying to capitalise on what we’ve learnt from Silverstone and the existing hairpins of Yas Marina.
Drew MacDonald

Turns 11 to 15

Kimi R??ikk??nen in the turn 12 chicane, 2009

The chicane after turn 11 is also removed in the Populous design and again the opportunity is used to introduce some more flowing corners into the layout:

We’ve also proposed removing the chicane after the hairpin which is currently turn 11.

This creates a tighter, more traditional hairpin where a passing move should stick when it is made.

After that we’ve added two sweeping curves similar to the ‘Esses’ in Suzuka.
Drew MacDonald

Populous say they’re happy to put a rendering of the altered track in their simulator for the race organisers to inspect.

Although the race organisers have indicated changes to the circuit are being considered, there’s no word yet on what those changes might be or who would design them.

The track, which was used for the first time last year, was created by Hermann Tilke, the man whose company is behind most of the new circuits on the F1 calendar.

Do you think the Yas Marina circuit needs changing? Do you think these proposed alterations are an improvement? Have your say in the comments.

Some readers have already suggested changes to the track in the forum.

Yas Marina as used for the 2010 Grand Prix

Yas Island, 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Yas Island, 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Yas Marina with revisions by Populous

Yas Marina Abu Dhabi by Populous
Yas Marina Abu Dhabi by Populous

Read F1 Fanatic’s earlier interview with Populous

Images ?? Yas Marina/Populous, Force India F1 Team, Ferrari spa

152 comments on “How Yas Marina could be changed to aid overtaking”

  1. I don’t think we need that twisty bit in the first sector. Couldn’t they just cut the pointless chicane out and leave the hairpin? That would help overtaking. But I agree with the idea for the end of the second long straight. It appears to be that the problem is the chicanes coming off the heavy braking zone corners are spreading the field out too much.

    1. I don’t think we need that twisty bit in the first sector. Couldn’t they just cut the pointless chicane out and leave the hairpin?

      Like he says in the “Turns three to seven” section, the position of the grandstand and the shortage of run-off are the problem.

      1. Like he says in the “Turns three to seven” section, the position of the grandstand and the shortage of run-off are the problem.

        If they moved the hairpin back away from the grand stand they should be right.

        1. But as he said then its further away from the grandstands when what they’re going for there is an up close and personal effect. What I don’t understand is why they didnt make some ‘under-grandstand’ runoff there like they did at the end of the main straight.

          1. For the run off to go below the granstand it would have to be a good 10 metres in the air or risk being hit by debris. think about how high webber flew at valencia

        2. But that would mean getting quite some distance between the cars and the grandstand.

          1. I know the grandstand may be further away, but it is either that or we have boring races. And the grandstand wouldn’t have to be that far away.

        3. Yeah, but that greatly lowers the experience for the people in said grandstand, as he said.

          1. There weren’t actually a lot of people in that grandstand. It looks larger than it actually is.

          2. grandstand or worldwide audience? for me it’s no brainer.

      2. Just install sprinkler system to be started just before race.

      3. there’s still a wide gap between the grandstand and the barrier there. just move the barrier back for more run off!
        hard to tell from this image, but i think there’s enough run off.

        1. You can’t move the barrier back because there is a concrete wall…

          Look to the right of that picture…. you can see what is directly below the photographer… a small barrier, about 5m gap then the concrete wall of the grandstand.

          And the barrier is as far back as it can go anyway because they have to have space for marshalls and vehicles to go round the outside of the barrier between the barrier and the grandstand.

          So…. the barrier can’t be moved.

        2. Yeah I reckon there is scope to move those barriers on the outside closer to the stands, gaining an extra 5 metres of runoff (the main sticking point being what happens with the access / ring road that runs between the stand and barrier).

          I also reckon there is scope to move the corner without ruining the view / experience for the spectators in the stands. I think moving the corner so the outside of the corner is in line with the current inside barrier, plus moving the outside barriers back there would be able another 19 metres of runoff. See links:
          http://bit.ly/eZLeNz http://bit.ly/eWMs63

          I don’t know if that would generate enough runoff though.

          1. @Pinball – If they did indeed move the hairpin into that position, I can’t see that there would be any less run-off than there was for Mark Webber in Valencia. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter how far back the run-offs go; the driver is always going to have a very big impact.

          2. @damonsmedley That is true there will always be cases where a car uses all the runoff area and hits a wall; however the FIA have a simulation that can calculate how much runoff is acceptable for a given corner, and that is a constraint that track designers need to work too. The question is if the harpin was moved further way from the barriers, would that provide enough runoff to satisfy the FIA’s requirements? I don’t know.

          3. @Pinball… I think your pic is more like what I would do (move the hairpin inwards)… the fans in the grandstand would be further from the cars but the action they would see would be better…

            So its a balance… at the moment they are close to a succession of slow cars following each other around a tight hairpin…

            With the redesigned corner further inland they would be further away but they would be seeing cars fighting for position at faster speeds…

            I know which I’d rather have…

        3. @sato113, I found another picture that really shows how much of a gap there is between the barrier and the grandstand, I would estimate about 8 metres or so. http://bit.ly/ccGwIk

          1. Oops, wrong link. This is the right one. http://bit.ly/fTw2SI

    2. Yep.. the twisty section doesn’t aid overtaking in an way. Just get rid of that chicane, and the problem is solved.

    3. you clearly didn’t read the article!!! It says they can’t let the hairpin be at the end of the straight because there’s not enough run off…

    4. I actually like how that twisty bit looks, after the long left-right-left sweepers, a tight hairpin and then a double apex..a bit resembling to Bahrain, but way better than what we have now

      1. I agree, it looks like it might prove challenging for the drivers. And at least they would have a try at passing in that area.

    5. It’s enough to eliminate current chicane PLUS that narrow corner before long straight should begin earlier – farther from the stands – thus solving problem of not enough runoff area – in the same time being more quicker.
      It’s essential that this corner is quicker because overtaking on the long striaght is possible only when cars coming out of the corner have already substantial speed and slipstream could appear early.
      Medium speed corners are the best balance. Too narrow corners kill any chance because the speed on exit is too low and car ahead just goes away.

      The best example how it should be done is Brazil. There are 3 ideal spots for overtakking at the end of 3 straights, each begining by medium speed corners. It’s really good track where cars with different setup can overtake on the long straights.

    6. I just realized that the final sector as it is looks like it was created by someone who can’t draw without a ruler. At a glance the proposed changes look better, though they could perhaps do with making the track surface worse – bumpier and narrower.

    7. I disagree with the guys who criticize part 1 of the proposed changes. Those three hairpins could actually work. We would have an overtaking opportunity on the first hairpin – a tight corner after a pretty fast section. The second hairpin is not critical and it could be just a regular corner, the point is to reduce the speed before the cars reach turn 7 in front of the grandstand. Overall it’s a decent change.

    8. I hope they read all this in Texas before it´s too late

      1. Good point. Someone should ask Populous to look at the proposed layout in Austin with a similar eye to learning from recent experience with Abu Dhabi and Silverstone as they do here. Can’t hurt to ask a second opinion.

  2. The turns before the hairpin do look pretty artifical/mickey mouse. But as they say there’s not a huge amount of options there due to the space, and what they have done should be pretty good from a racing point of view. Also means those seats around the hairpin would probably be the prime seats on the circuit, you’d get a lot of view-time sitting there and probably a fair bit of action too.

    1. oh yeah, the only reason it looks a little artifical is because of the need to join it to the following part of the track. And given ths situation being forced upon them by the existing circuit its probably about as good as it can be.

  3. I like it but still think the run to the hairpin could just remove all obstacles (as Damonsmedley says).

    Here is my version:

    1. If I was in charge, I think I would do something like this:

      1. Wonderful! Maybe the left-right-left-right turns are too many and drivers could avoid them taking a straight line, but they surely would improve the show.

      2. Pinball, I Quite like the addition of the infield section off the back straight. The only thing to be mindful of would be the additional track length and therefore lap time. Apparently the ideal lap time for TV scheduling, for those countries who have add breaks, is around 1min 30s. Secondly although this is Abu Dhabi more track means more cost. Circuits don’t make huge amounts of cash so they need to mindful where they spend money.

      3. I like it Pinball, nice concept. Personally, though, I would take out the hairpin/chicane at the end of the big loop on the back straight and just have it flow right back into the straight section for some truly stomach-churning g-forces!

      4. I like the Pinball Yas Marina layout…plus the name would have a certain…cachet…The Pinball Yas Marina….nice

        And, why don’t they simply build some of the grandstands with an elevated first level. They could then provide more run-off UNDER the seats. Protected supports could still be provided, the audience could be closer….and if you think a car might catch too much “air” off another car, then simply provide more space to the lowest grandstand.

        1. The West Grandstand DOES have a runoff area under the grandstand.

      5. Snakes on a plane! It looks rather fiddly, but it might work.

    2. Here’s my version…

      I took the populous version. Straightened the twisty bits and curved some of the L-shaped corners.

      Mostly widened the exits from the slow corners to allow faster entry onto the following straights. Therefore providing more overtaking opportunities down the straight and into the next corner.

      1. I like Mark’s version the best. Although Pinball’s is a unique concept, the lap would take around 2 minutes to complete!

  4. That’s the problem when you have a track with so much features,what you come up is the most expensive & exclusive track but it doesn’t provide any types of racing.First I think the rules needs to be changes by the FIA on building a track.Yes they needs to keep safety in mind & they must encourage to built more tracks like Silverstone,Interlogos,Spa.I don’t think that the organizer can do too many changes on the track as this is a very complicated one.Even if they does then it would cost a lot of money as explained.

  5. Great article, Keith!

    One thing that sticks out… I like the idea of change #2 but that’s now created a fast, highly technical (i.e. wobbly) section in to a slow turn. IIRC there was quite a bit of run-off there however the new approach is at a much higher speed heading slap-bang in to the side of the hotel! The cars would be flat-out in 7th gear before getting to the 90* turn.

    It looks like it’s created a similar situation to the current approach to the hairpin (which requires the chicane to slow the cars down). However, it also looks like a good ‘Kamikaze Kobayashi’ overtaking opportunity. :)

    1. However, it also looks like a good ‘Kamikaze Kobayashi’ overtaking opportunity.

      If Kobayashi can do it, then so can all the other no-marks! KK is reminding us the problem is not just the track and the cars, but the drivers as well… and he doesn’t even have the fastest car in the field… Vettel’s overtakes at Silverstone were embarrassing in comparison in what was the fastest car by a country mile.

  6. This just proves that the initial design by Hermann Tilke is flawed. First, Bahrain and now, Abu Dhabi. It’s a real pity but I think investors in Abu Dhabi would have the finances to improve their circuit.

  7. Nice ideas but far too squiggly and it doesn’t fix Sector 3, which could be made a little more sweeping if they extend the inside of the corners to the barriers, Monaco-style. Made a mess of Sector 1 completely; if the chicane is really necessary then at least make it very tight and turn it into a proper overtaking spot. They would be far better off making that sharp right the first part of a new chicane the then connects with the shortcut to the hairpin, which doesn’t need to be so tight. I don’t understand the squiggle after the proposed hairpin either.

    1. I think the ‘squiggle’ is purely for protection, if it was not there the cars would be coming up towards the hotel very quickly, and we can’t have anyone crash into the main attraction now can we, what would we have to look at then, the racing!?

      On a positive note, I think the cahnges proposed are still good ones, and a definite improvement. Let’s hope this gives populous the chance to rival Tilke in getting hold of the new track building contracts.

      1. I don’t think the squiggle would do anything to reduce speeds; if it was just a straight, the cars would have to brake earlier for the tight right-hander, with a squiggle the cars would get to a lower speed but they would brake later, cancelling it out.

        The problem with the Populous design, apart from creating a new Bahrain monstrosity in Sector 1, is that it doesn’t address the fact that it still has a low-speed corner leading onto the straight, which does a lot to hamper overtaking. A better idea would be to add the extra sweep like they did, but instead of the sharp hairpin have a mirror of the current chicane. The cars would be able to build enough speed to take the hairpin at speed, but not enough to cause problems with the run-off issue.

        Another improvement could be made to the chicane at the end of the straight. I know it was intended to be open to drivers coming back at an overtaking move, but in practice it just makes it easier to defend. I would favour making it a banked curve so that it brings down the overall downforce levels the cars would run on, but if they want to keep it as a slow corner they could have it more of a Z shape.

        At the the end of the next straight, they could do something similar to Bahrain’s Turn 1, forcing an abrupt stop with a kink that send them off at roughly 90-degree angle which would link up with the current Turn 12(?) which presents a good challenge in being off-camber.

        Sadly there is little that can be done about the marina part of the track.

  8. In my opinion, if you want more overtaking you have to reduce the dowforce generated from the wings, so you have to have tracks faster then now, like Canada, or Monza or Spa….
    If you reduce the dowforce, the vortex generated by the wings will be reduced, so the air over the following cars are “less dirty”.
    So in my opinion you have to delete the slower corner, where is possible.
    For example in Yas Marina you have to delete the first chicane after the first 3-4 forners, the chicane where M.Schumacher spin in the last race.
    Then you have to delete the chicane after the first long straight.

    1. Of course, if you took away the downforce cornering speeds would be reduced, which would mean the drivers could take the original hairpin without the chicane, as they’d have to take it at a lower speed and thus brake earlier, getting rid of the problem of the run-off area. Why they didn’t just do what they did at the other end and extend it under the grandstands I’ll never know. It’s not like they had any demand to build as many seats as possible.

  9. Nice article Kieth ;)

    But it seems to me that just as Tilke has his signiture (long straights into tight corners) Populus has their own (double hair pins)

    I don’t really like the look of the first sector, it needs to be fixed somehow, but Populus’ design is effectively three consecutive hairpins…

  10. Whatever change to that track is welcome. I found some good suggestions in the link to the forum, I hope that race organizers read F1fanatic :) Otherwise, we’re fated to boredom.

  11. Ok, the chicane (turns 5-6) before the hairpin is ridiculous. I think we could get rid of it by using the left-right-left esse wich already exists just after turn 4.
    I don’t like the idea of adding more slow corners: F1 fans (and drivers) love high speed corners, not hairpins and chicanes. So I vote ‘no’ to the Populous idea.
    I would like to remove the useless chicane at turns 12-13 as well: there is room for a faster and more challenging curve.

    The problem of overtaking on this track is the same as Barcelona (with that ugly last chicane): they think that to overtake, you need a slow corner, a straight, then a slow corner again.
    That’s false: you need a medium corner, a straight, and a slow corner.
    As we could see in Yas Marina and Barcelona, if the corner before the straight is too slow, the cars cannot benefit from the slipstream (wich does not exists at low speeds). Moreover, just out of a chicane, cars tends to pull away from each other.

    So we need (as Vitaly Petrov said after the race) faster corners before the straight.
    That’s why I would like to see a 4th gear corner at turn 8, in order to make overtaking opportunities at turn 11.

    PS: sorry for my bad english, I’m french

    1. Your English is a lot better than my French or indeed many English speakers’ English!

      And you’re right, this slow-fast-slow ethos actually hurts overtaking. In China the run down to the hairpin is preceded by a quick corner, same as in Malaysia. It’s part of the reason Valencia’s long “straights” do nothing (it would help if they weren’t curved either).

      1. Thank you :)
        And yes, we have the same problem in Valencia.

      2. Boy, I agree with this. Brazil works because the straight is preceded by a turn that is challenging enough there is a exit speed difference, which is magnified down the straight and allows an overtaking effort. Slow turns followed by straights don’t work because all the cars to the slow turns the same, then they do the straight the same (+/-).

        1. Exactly… you have to provide opportunities for faster cars to get faster exits onto the straight…. then you get overtaking.

    2. I agree with you. There are two improvements that could be easily made to the chicane after the long straight. They could make it wider to make it more tempting to make a move and easier for that move to stick. Or they could make the chicane less severe so that they carry some speed through it making an overtake at the next corner more likely.

      In my mind all hairpins should be nice and wide to make it more appealing to try a move and also to allow room to make the most of any mistakes by the driver in front.

      1. Or, try and modify the chicane so that it has a slow entry, but a fast exit. Who said that chicanes have to be like the abomination at the Bus stop? Slow in and slow out?

    3. “PS: sorry for my bad english,”
      – Why do people speaking very good English often have the need to add this stupid statement at the end of a well written comment?
      You do know you speak good English, don’t pretend you don’t. That’d make no sense.

      There are users who struggle with their English, yet always manage to put their message across. If you apologize for your ‘bad English’ then they should beg for forgiveness or what?

      Under the superficial politness, there’s an arrogant attempt at seeking praise and validation. Stop it, please.
      This is an international community and anybody’s command of the English language should be respected BY DEFAULT.

      PS. Sorry for my little rant.

      I like the track as it is. At the beginning I also wasn’t fond of the chicane before the hairpin, but it’s actually a quite spectacular sequence when a driver is pushing and sliding in the braking for each of the turns there.

      What I’d like to see done is to make the inner limits of the hairpin narrower, as to enable entering the hairpin in a very tight line (which would obviously be used for overtaking [like Schumi on Wurz, Monaco’98]). A driver who is defending his position would often be forced to take a very tight line as well, which would result in a great disadvantage in the acceleration for the long straight. This would also provide overtaking.

  12. The circuit needs:
    off camber corners
    more of a double back on it’s self hair pin at the end of the back straight
    and less dust offline

    less dust off line is hard for a circuit like that, so why not put down a more grippy Tarmac off the racing line in some corners, it might make the drivers vary their lines into them and won’t be so much of a penalty when going round another car

  13. HounslowBusGarage
    23rd November 2010, 10:26

    I’m not wholly convinced by the Populous changes, particulalry Change 1.
    I think everyone would prefer not to have the silly chicane just in front of the hairpin as it spoils what should be a prime overtaking/confrontationpoint into the hairpin, just as it is at Hockenheim. The problem is the amount of run off that’s been allowed there.
    Doing a rough bit of measurement and using the existing Turn 11 as a model, I’d suspect that about 30 metres of additional run off need to be provided for into the hairpin. So, if the hairpin was moved back into the infield by 30 metres it, the corner would become a tricky, double apex affair that drivers would have to get spot on to maximise exit speed onto the long straight. Moving the corner back 30 metres would inevitably slightly lessen the immediate appeal (price) of the closest grandstand seats lower down at the apex, but would probably increase the appeal of those higher up in the apex stand and those in the stands leading into and out of the revised hairpin.
    If the track authorities made the surface of this extended run off area in the same style as Le Castellet/Ricard, where adhesion and tyre damage both increase the further off the circuit you go, I think this might acheive the best of both worlds.
    I really do not think we need another wiggly section on this track; I can’t see how Populous’ suggestion in Change 1 will increase the chance of overtaking there.

  14. Great idea Keith, to get in touch with Populous and wonderfull job of them to give us this pretty nice but not too complicated update.

    I am not sure what exactly helps overtaking, so I will not be going too much into discussion on what works and what doesn’t, although I do agree, that Tilkes standard approach does not seem to work nowadays.

    I also thought about using the bend in the track before the chicane to make some S section, as suggested above. But it probably would only mean the cars will be further apart and not even much slower at the hairpin (like they do in Suzuka, not good for following a car).

    As Populous have the experience from Silverstone going into this, I would really love the Abu Dhabi organisers for actually giving this proposal a serious thought.

    1. Thanks BasCB :-)

    2. Agree with you BasCB, I think it’s amazing that Populous have designed this new proposal exclusively for F1F! :)

      I think that the officials in Abu Dhabi should really look into these suggestions, if there’s any chance of improving any track, why not?! Specially that Abu Dhabi seems to have it all – except good racing!

    3. that little ‘s’ loop wouldn’t be a particularly quick corner partly because its actually quite tight- nearly 90 degrees, and partly because they would have to exit the fast 2,3,4 sweeper slower in order to move the car across to the right of the track in time to take the optimum racing line into it. In the current configuration, the cars take turn 4 flat out and exit far to the left of the track. If they were to do this if the little ‘s’ was added, they would have to take far too tight a line into that ‘s’.

      I actually think it would be quite a challenge for the drivers to negotiate, due to the fact that it is immediately after a very fast sweep, and could lead to mistakes which would close up cars before the straight. It would also do the job of ensuring the cars arrive slower at the hairpin.

  15. Hahaha. Unbelievable but true: I read the title of this article as “How Yas Marina could be changed to AVOID overtaking”. Half a second later I was, like, “What the…!”.


  16. It seems to me that by Popous breaking up the square geometry of the track they have made it look more ‘natural’ and flowing.

    The spectators in the hairpin grandstand will be edit from seeing more of the cars because of the new double hairpins, I don’t know whether racing fans will see a benefit.

    From a drivers perspective, the final sector will be interesting with various new corners.

    You mention that there are constraints in changing the layout because of roads and grandstands – I’m sure there is enough money for them to do what they want on Yas Island. :D

  17. *Populous.

    I also forgot to say, that I liked the ‘Yas Marina Fast Layout’ which was posted on a Round Up early last week. (link possibly posted by geemac?).

  18. Already posted mine a while ago, so won’t repeat it all here,


    Same basic idea as the Populous one for “post Turn 3” I think, although I still prefer the idea of trying to eek some slight unused gradient out of the current circuit layout.
    For those still unsure of the theory, think of the new tight section as a Mirabeau, Lowes, Portier … slow the cars down, shed the aero-loads, allow them to get nose-to-tail, give the people in that little stranded grandstand a bit of a show, and then allowing someone to occasionally stick a nose up the inside on the (now 3 times longer) spurt down to the hairpin. Make any mistake at all in this sector and you’re kippered down the straight.

    Warming to the Monaco theme, I’d like to ammend my suggestion with Armco barrier round the outside circuit edge for the last two corners. Put a crane in the now redundant acre of run-off area.
    You’d now have that tricky off-camber corner under the hotel, maybe bang the wall like Webber on exit, and skim the new barriers coming onto the straight. If they get away with it up St Devote, we can do it in Abu Dhabi. With all the big boats, and barriers you’d then start to have yourself a proper Monaco in the desert … think of the broken wheel-rim sparks under floodlights.

    Finally, I appreciate the place is floating on oil, and “guest” workers can be cattle-trucked in at the drop of a hat, but still, it’s Yas Island, not Fantasy Island. Assuming they are running to any sort of budget whatsoever: with this solution you’d only need 50feet of tarmac over an existing service road, a truckload of shiny barrier and someone with a spade to knock in some fence-holes, job done in a long weekend.

  19. I’m not a fan of the Populous changes. I don’t think they really address the two major problems with the circuit: the turn eight/nine switchback and the section under the hotel; the first section is a problem because it very definitely favours the defending driver, whilst the section under the hotel has a repetitive, stop-start rhythm. I also think that with the amount of space available at the sections where they want to make changes, the limited amount of space means that their proposals might be a little too tight and compact. I can see their first revision in particular being a problem space-wise, while I don’t think there’s actually that much wrong with the bottom chicane. It might be a chicane, but it favours the attacking driver, and most of the passing that we see on a Grand Prix weekend takes place there.

    If I were approached to redesign the circuit, this is how I would do it:


    First of all, I’d run the circuit in the “opposite” direction. The cars would drive down the main straight in the opposite direction to what they do now, using the existing roads that shorten the circuit into its smaller halves to connect the main straight into the back half of the current circuit. This would also make the first corners very quick. The circuit would continue as planned down to the bottom chicane and up around the hotel. There wasn’t much that I could do here, but maybe the angles of the corner could be changed a little to make it more like the Parabolica.

    Then it’s time for the biggest change of all: the cross-over. The circuit would need to cross over itself somehow, though I’m envisioning a tunnel more than a Suzuka-style flyover. The road would then loop up behind the existing grandstands and then cut under them. This is possible because the tarmac run-off that already exists at this corner actually goes under the grandstand, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to convert it into racing circuit.

    Then it’s down the long back straight, and the only problem with the circuit: there is nothing to slow the cars down into the hairpin. The existing chicane is there to shave speed off into a corner with virtually no run-off, but in this version there is nothing. That said, it may be possible to use some of the alternate routes so create a semi-chicane (kind of like turns eleven and twelve at Albert Park) to shave some speed off. Having cleared the hairpin, the cars could skip the chicane via the escape road ready to tackle the hill. The only difference here is that I’ve added two extra bends to force the cars to zig-zag a little more. The rest of the circuit continues unabridged (though in reverse to the existing cnfiguration) back to the main straight.

    1. Hmmm, so running it backwards, you’d take one of the longer straights in F1, extend it further, and then run full pelt, full bananas, straight at the concrete wall holding up the grandstand?

      The current run off is considered suitable for only a 2nd or 3rd gear exit from a slow chicane … if you ran backwards, and someone had a car failure, they could peel what’s left of the car and driver off the wall with a wallpaper scraper. It’d look like a Wile E Coyote Acme Rocket aftermath.

      1. That’s why I’m suggesting a kind of quick kink beforehand. Fast enough that it’s not a brazen chicane, but slow enough to shave speed off.

        1. You might want to sketch out such kinks in the diagram, cos right now it’s still laser-straight.

          Despite all the extended run-off area, safer barriers and raised grandstands at the other end of straight, Natacha Gachnang still managed to put some extra angles in her legs when she had a brake failure. Going up against a solid wall, those kinks are gonna need to be a whole lot more kinky than I think you think.

          So by the time you’ve burned up swathes of your straight trying to slow them down for that hairpin, I’ve gotta ask what was the point of adding all that extra straight at the other end … except to maybe move one potential overtaking opportunity (braking into your turn 11) outside the circuit?

          The poor put-upon ticketed trackside punters surely see little enough live-action as it is without us putting chunks of the track out in the car park behind them.

          1. I can’t … Google Earth refuses to connect now that I’m no longer on my university network …

    2. I do think that is a very interesting idea you have there Prisoner Monkeys – and if you could as you say, fix the problem with the limited run-off at the hairpin it could work. To me it seems that they built the grandstands first, then the track, before realising they needed a chicane to slow the cars down. Either that or they built the circuit wholly to satisfy the fans desires to be closer to the cars…

    3. Actually I think you went too far: just run it the other way. On the opening lap, with the cars bunched together the useless point-and-squirt corners could provide some entertainment for a change. Turn 5 could be moved back a bit so the straight goes directly to the next of corner, by-passing the chicane. Taking the next chicane backwards would also be better, as the drivers would instinctively defend by going to the left, leaving a challenger to try and go around the outside to have the inside of the next corner, making attempts more successful.

      The problem is the straight, which is too long for the run-off at the other end. What to do? Utilise the already-existing optional sections. Roughly halfway down the straight the circuit would go into the kink, which would then join up with the little fiddly infield bit to make a chicane before the hairpin. The cars would then take the proper hairpin, exiting down the shortcut and missing the chicane everyone loves to hate that’s there now.

      The final corner would probably have “too little run-off”, but they could probably extend the barriers back. That or covert the corner into a (very) mini version of China’s Turn 11-12-13

    4. can’t tell you how epic that track looks. Your design would make a wonderfully unique circuit even more so and turn it into a genuine theatre of speed. Get in touch with the circuit owners!

  20. Instead of changing all the tracks, lets get some drivers with balls. How come for example Hamilton and Kobayashi manage to overtake lots more than other drivers? And if they do change the track, lets please think of other ways of creating overtaking opportunities instead of the usual long straight/hairpin combination. Some of the most memorable overtakes were made in corners which aren’t like that (Alonso on Schumacher in 130R comes to mind).

  21. Craig Woollard
    23rd November 2010, 11:24

    The problem is, overtaking can’t happen at Yas Marina unless the layout is changed to a low-downforce circuit. Look at the tracks where overtaking does happen, I can only pick out a few. Interlagos – Medium downforce, high undulation, variable weather. Spa – Medium downforce, high undulation, variable weather, Silverstone – Medium downforce, no undulation (bar Stowe), variable weather. Monza – Low downforce, no undulation (except on run up to Ascari Chicane), variable weather, Montréal – Low downforce, no undulation, usually dry. I think you get my point. Unless I’m mistaken, undulation, variable weather & low downforce circuits provide overtaking, being in the middle of a desert, does not.

    1. Monza has variable weather? It’s usually dry, isn’t it?

      1. Yep, 2008 was the first and so far only wet race there I think. :) It’s been wet on some practics IIRC though.

        1. *that should be ‘practices’ not ‘practics’ :p

  22. I like the proposals around the Marina section. Much better. Not convinced by the run down to the hairpin.

    One section I would like to change is the hairpin/chicane at the end of the straight. I’d like to change that to something more like the chicane at the back of Brands Hatch – something where the cars are at speed, on the edge of grip, instead of first gear trundle-athon it currently is.

    Also, it reminds me of my suggestions for the awful, awful Bahrain track (the third one here is my favourite) – image

    1. Craig Woollard
      23rd November 2010, 11:41

      The third one is the one they use for endurance races. That layout wouldn’t aid overtaking at all, the second one wouldn’t assist either, I do prefer that layout to the 2010 version though.

    2. The Bahrain loop is also my hot-favorite by a mile, I’d love to see the cars in full Monza tea-tray spec whistle round and round that track.
      Too many fiddly identikit layouts nowadays, tracks should instead strive to have their own distinct character, that third layout would certainly catch the attention. A modern replacement for the old Hockenheim.

      Anyone heard what they have planned? I know the 2010 mickey-mouse sector is out, but hopefully it’s not just back to the tedious same-old same-old. I fear it may be.

  23. Alex and Craig above are thinking in the right direction.

    It’s not *just* the tracks that is the problem… although as Craig has shown the high downforce tracks are the one’s with limited overtaking… we need low downforce, high mechanical grip cars… but that ain’t going to happen as the FIA are safety minded, and this would produce cars faster down the straight AND faster through the corners. We could reduce top speed by simply not having the silly long straights, I don’t think any of the tracks Craig mentions have km long straights.

    …and then there is the drivers which brings me back to an earlier comment I made…

    If Kobayashi can do it, then so can all the other no-marks! KK is reminding us the problem is not just the track and the cars, but the drivers as well… and he doesn’t even have the fastest car in the field… Vettel’s overtakes at Silverstone were embarrassing in comparison in what was the fastest car by a country mile.

    1. Craig Woollard
      23rd November 2010, 11:48

      Spa has the run up to Les Combes, but even then, there’s 4 corners between La Source and there… Thanks for agreeing with me anyway :)

      1. True, but it’s uphill so the car doesn’t quite hit the same top speed as it would at China or Korea for example.

  24. Just give me and my mate a couple of days with a pair of Cat D11’s and we will fix the circuit. After we have finished I can absolutely guarantee Kimi fanboys that he will be faster around the circuit in a C4 than Nando in an F10. Actually I dont think an F10 would make it over the first yump on my redesigned circuit…..

  25. What I would do is:

    For the first sector, follow that extra long radius curve before putting in a corner like Degner 1 at Suzuka (ie, a small radius open corner with lots of camber which cars have to thread their line through, just before the first switchback. Have another similar corner which lines it up parallel with the grandstand.

    In the third sector, make it a U shaped left hander that is tight on the entry, widens in the middle and tightens on the exit.

  26. I hope this becomes a reality, taking existing Formula One tracks and making changes to them to allow more overtaking.
    Especially the newer tracks – it si a disservice to the Formula One community as a whole to have tracks being used that offer almost no excitement aside from the start and pit stops.

  27. Here’s a radical idea. How about we remove the original turns 8 and 9 (the hairpins at the end of the main straight) and make it into a long sweeping left-hander kind of like a 130R. The cars would go full throttle for nearly 30+ seconds down to turn 11. Speeds more than 350 kmph can be reached. This will mean that cars will most likely run a Spa or Monza level of downforce on the Abu Dhabi track. Populous’s new sector 1 demands a very high downforce for sector 1. But as cars have low downforce, they would really struggle through this sector and thus, more mistakes would be made by drivers.

    Regarding the run-off at the new 130R, they would just have to start the turn a little bit before so that there is sufficient run-off.

    1. Don’t corners like 130R require high downforce? That may be my misunderstanding, genuine question.

      1. Yes, a lower radius corner will require high downforce. But this isn’t going to be a low radius corner. It will be more like Curva Grande or Lesmos at Monza. This year, most of the cars were taking those corners with the F-duct switched on, i.e. at low downforce.

        I used 130R as a reference so that people could visualize it easily. If my geometry is good, this is going to be some sort of a 200R or 220R. Besides, the kind of high speeds (possibly higher than Monza) we could expect expect at Turn 11 means that if anyone ran a high downforce setup, then that driver would be a sitting duck at Turn 11.

  28. Turn 8 should have a simple corner, not necessarily wider but without the chicane.

  29. I read Todt was talking about rating the tracks/layouts in terms of entertainment – this is worth an article in itself. I can think of some tracks ranking very low eg.Barcelona etc.

  30. THANK YOU KEITH! For bringing this subject to light. I voiced my opinion a couple of times after the Yas Marina race, criticizing the awful layout. I don’t have any brilliant ideas, I will leave that to the “experts”. What I am happy about is people are talking reconfiguration, and certainly needs to happen. When much faster cars (ALO behind PET for 32 laps I believe while being 8 tenths per lap faster) can’t pass slower cars, it makes for a disappointing race, especially when a WDC is on the line. I hope Bernie and crew listen to our voice. It’s in his best interest after that terrible race on an absolutely embarassing track. I do have 1 thought, blow that POS up and start over. I think ALO would agree.

    1. I was at the race and I totally disagree…

      ALO being stuck behind PET for 32 laps was thoroughly exciting, tense and entertaining.

      Every lap we were all straining to look up the straight to see how close ALO was this lap, would he or wouldn’t he make it this time, then the frustration as he failed and they disappeared off down the back straight. With us left thinking how close can he get next time :)

      And it wasn’t just that…. there were 3-4 of these tussles going on so EVERY lap we were treated to 3-4 tense, exciting moments.

      But then maybe you’d prefer a race where the fastest cars breeze past without having to try, where all the cars in front jump out of the way and let them past, and all they have to do is drive to the end of the race to pick up the points.

      I think that’s what ALO wanted, and I, for one, am glad it wasn’t like that… now that would have been a boring end to the season.

      If that had happened do you think we’d be here now having this debate ? ALO would have boringly picked up the championship and the race would have been forgotten already. Instead we’re still talking about it.

  31. I’d change Turn 11 into a 3 apex corner like Turkey’s Turn 8 (hopefully with more than 1 racing line) then follow Populous’s change and have a maggotts/beckets type section up to the current Turn 15.

    No idea if this will improve the overtaking though…

    Keith, If Populous have any spare time on their hands, perhaps they could suggest changes to Valencia’s circuit, as the circuit organisor was saying after the GP that he will look into circuit changes, and consult the drivers. Though I haven’t heard anything else since.

    1. Why not change the Z elevation in places instead of tweaking in plan? Downhill or uphill braking areas can expose differences in drivers’ styles, resulting in more overtaking… in theory.

  32. As Keith already knows Populous have a simulator. If time allowed they would put Abu Dhabi upgrade options in the simulator and test them. Any new circuit they design goes through this process much like the development of a car or driver.

  33. Great article Keith. I do hope they make these changes and enhance the circuit as I think that visually the track is stunning, and I love the day/night aspect of the racing.

    Now if only they could combine this with good on-track action it would be terrific.

  34. just dont go there, go to a real street track lol

  35. It is very useful to have some professionals chime in with input here, so thanks to Populous to spending some time on it – and to you, Keith, for publishing this.

    What is shown quite well, I think, is the kinds of limitations with which the actual circuit design was conceived. The intent of building the hairpin at the “right” side of the track apparently was to build a corner where the spectators and, thus, grandstands can be put very close to the track. The compromise for achieving that is quite severe, though, because you need a corner which in itself is slow enough that it doesn’t need significant run-off, and a corner right before it to make sure the entry speed into that corner is low as well. Both of which resulted in a passage of three corners which are too tight and follow each other too closely to overtake – at the very least with monoposto-type cars where you can’t lean onto the side of your opponent.

    I don’t see how the Populous idea does much to rectify this problem, as the distance from the previous corner to the hairpin still seems quite short.

    What I would completely agree with is the second revision they’ve skechted out. That chicane after the second long straight is problematic, because from what the races have shown (and even what F1 2010, though not by any means an accurately detailed simulation, can illustrate), the most promising prospect of overtaking there seems to get the opponent to defend the inside line, stick to the racing line and either hope the other guy outbrakes himself – or has to brake earlier because there’s dirt off the racing line and you can overtake him around the outside. That’s all very neat if it happens and a driver manages to exploit that and make it stick, but I think it’s a corner design that makes overtaking a bit more difficult than it could be.

    1. Actually what I think this shows is that we shouldn’t give up on a circuit after the first couple of races…

      There are plenty of good ideas for improving the circuit, improving overtaking opportunities, improving the show… even within the very limited confines of Abu Dhabi.

      All it takes is someone to grab hold of the ideas and run with them to get them implemented.

      It is doing something about it that counts… rather than just moaning by onloookers and inaction by the circuit owners.

    1. Stephen Higgins
      23rd November 2010, 19:27

      Oops, didn’t mean to make the whole thing a link, sorry Keith.

  36. This only shows how badly Hermann Tilke got this one…

    I like the improvements a lot. But I cannot get out of my head how and why they have to go through all this.

    They started with a clean piece of paper, nothing written, everything to be done. Now another company has million limitations with the grandstands, the insufficient run-off, the hotel in the middle…

    I hope FIA think twice before approving a circuit design from now on. I also hope the organizers and the design group ask the drivers some views about it. In the end, they are the ones driving, and they know where it’ll be possible to overtake a lot better than some architects sitting in front of a computer…

  37. HounslowBusGarage
    23rd November 2010, 23:09

    While I’ve been working on something legitimate this evening, the problem of Change 1 has been niggling away at the back of my mind, and I realised how the designers got it wrong.
    The primary design showed the traight going straight into the hairpin right into the elbow of the grandstands. Subsequent calculations showed that the runoff area would not be sufficient for F1 (and possibly other formulae) cars. Hurriedly, the track constructors (with or without the input of Tilke Gmbh) introduced a left-right chicane before the hairpin.
    Except that they got it wrong.
    The first left is about 120 degrees, which is much too easy and whereas it should be 90 degrees to set the cars a real challenge and breaking point coming off the straight. Make the cars brake from high speed into a slow corner, even if it’s before the intended hairpin.
    Alternatively, the track designer/constructors could have blended the straight into a gentle left bend towards the infield leading into a hard right immediately before the hairpin.
    Please jave a look here http://www.hfmedia.co.uk/test1/Change1%20Revision-1.gif
    at my revisions. The nasty brownish ribbon is my design laid over the top of the Populous diagram shown on Keith’s blog. The top illustration shows a much later and tighter left turn into the infield which would have offered a far more dramatic braking ad passing opportunity than the rather flacid current layout. The second layout shows a rather more fundamental revision wherein the track continues the very attractive left-right-left sequence of 2 -3 -4 into a 90 degree hard right as close to the hairpim as possible.
    In both of thesae suggestions, the spectators at the hairpin are not deprived of any of the spectacle of cars hurtling towards them and braking to negotiate a hard left or right followed by a long left sequence with passing and confrontation opportunities.
    Tell me whadda y’think

    1. I really like your second idea. It’s simple but I think it could work. A right-left chicane before the hairpin makes more sense in this situation than the current left-right. This allows the line the cars take into the hairpin to be widened a fair amount. Hopefully then they could stay a little closer to each other as they head up the straight. Not only that, the new route brings the cars even closer to the grandstands adjacent to the entry into the hairpin. Thus the viewing experience gets even better. Nice work!

      1. I agree on all points – if we must have a chicane there, yours would flow much more naturally than the current one. Nice idea Hounslow.

    2. I like the second one better….

      However, how does it help overtaking through this section and how does it increase the exit speed onto the straight ? It doesn’t.

      So the cars go into this section in procession, and all the leading car has to do to protect themselves down the main straight is to stall the following cars or brake test them at the apex of the hairpin before flooring it onto the straight.

      The exit onto the main straight MUST be widened and made faster to allow the following cars to get on the tail of the car in front on the exit onto the straight.

      1. HounslowBusGarage
        24th November 2010, 21:42

        Yes, I think I agree with you in general. But we are dealing with a number of ‘fixed points’ here.
        The grandstands are built and immovable. The angle between them is relatively shallow, so there isn’t much room to open out the exit of the hairpin to improve exit speed.
        On the way into the hairpin, there has to be some kind of track variation that causes the cars to brake heavily and lose speed before the hairpin itself because there isn’t sufficient run off room at the hairpin.
        So you either:-
        1) introduce a chicane before the hairpin
        2) pull the hairpin back and increase the run off area
        3) demolish the central section of the grandstand and use that area as run off area.
        If you put some kind of chicane on the way in, that extra bit of track uses up what little space there is between the straight leading in to the hairpin and the exit straight, so you can’t open up the exit from the hairpin by much. There just isn’t the room in the shallow angle between the grandstands.
        It’s a bit like that stupid Irish joke
        “How do I get to Dunleary from here?”
        “Well, if I wanted to get to Dunleary, I wouldn’t be starting from here.”
        Yas Marina has been built. Any replan has to start with what is already there. I wouldn’t have a super-slow hairpin leading onto a long straight either. But unless the track authorities have bottomless pockets and are prepared to demolish grandstands, they will have to use substantially what they have already got while planning improvements.

  38. Hate the first corner

  39. here’s my take:


    I started by modifing turn 2 into a long sweeping left-right S turn leading into a tight right hander. Hopefully this could allow the chasing car to get a bit closer to the car ahead for a chance to overtake at the chicane, which I’ve pushed forward slightly. I’ve also changed the tight turn 8 chicane into a fast kink. Turn 11-15 is also different, but my changes are basically the same as the Populous revisions. I’ve also sped up turns 20 and 21 to be similar to the Lesmo 1 and 2 turns at monza. The new circuit length is 5.52km, a difference of 30m from the original.

  40. Keith, have you given any thought to holding another round of the circuit design contest? Perhaps for this round you could persuade the kind professionals at Populous to participate in the judging and provide feedback on the designs? :)

  41. (why not put down a more grippy Tarmac off the racing line in some corners, it might make the drivers vary their lines into them and won’t be so much of a penalty when going round another car) how true john snow.
    and to add to that put grippier tarmac on the inside on the braking area for the turns that way encouraging divebombs.

  42. The climate in Abu Dhabi or Bahrain definitely works against the tracks. For instance, Silverstone has produced some very drab races (before 2010) but these have been interspersed with wet races which soften the blow to some extent.

    Tracks in hot dry climates must then work even harder to produce decent entertainment. If only Yas Marina wasn’t designed to be flat as a pancake, then we might get some variation in braking leading to more overtaking.

  43. Modern conceptions of curves – square curves. Tilke, knock it off, that’s not funny.

  44. Hi Keith,
    in my humblest opinion this is the best solution to improve overtake in Yas Marina:
    tight corner at turn 11, with turn 17 that become a critical point for overtaking, and turn 7 moved 100 metres back


  45. I’ve revised my previous idea to incorporate a chicane layout similar to HounslowBusGarage’ idea:


    I’ve also increased the radius of turns 2-3 to reduce the effects of the downforce penalty of cars traveling in dirty air behind another car, and hopefully benefit from the tow instead. Turn 8 has also been tightened again similar to the original configuration.

    1. Well done…for all the money spent the 1st. time, they couldn’t get it right.:(

      1. Thanks!

        Alright, my final version and then I’m done I promise lol! :


        1. Do you work for Populous Eric?? Because you probably should do! Thats areal nice design.

          1. If they had a Canadian office I’d certainly try lol.

            Thank you for the kind words :)

        2. Pretty good with that last one….

          However I would open out the exit of the hairpin in the north (to the “right”). Make it a sharp tight in, followed by an opening exit onto the straight.

          It’s the same as you’ve done with the chicane at the end of the main straight. Someone who is defending at that chicane could now be got down the back straight.

          I also like to some extent what you’ve done with the last two corners… However I would keep the final corner as a sharp >-corner, that potentially gives some variety in the last few cars.

        3. HounslowBusGarage
          24th November 2010, 21:16

          Looks pretty good, Eric.

          1. Yes, exactly like that. :)

            I think that just introduces an extra bit of speed on the exit from the hairpin that would allow following faster cars to get on the throttle and up behind the leading car as they go onto the straight.

            Thinking about it, what would be an even cooler idea would be if the straight wasn’t straight but curved infield more before going straight.

            Kinda like this… (not very good with graphics)

            This way it makes that section in front of the grandstand much more exciting and opens up the chance for faster following cras to get a move on slower leading cars.

  46. What about just running it backwards (clockwise)?Obviously the turn 7 / hairpin runoff issue still hangs around like a bad smell, but it fits Populous’ philosophy of overtaking opp straight after an overtaking opp. The Populos tweak at turns 11-14 could be interesting clockwise too.
    I could envisage issues with lines of sight for spectators and other runoff arrangements, but they have a sovereign wealth fund to play with… just get it done.

  47. here’s my version for abu dhabi

    i’ll just turn the hairpin into one big left hander and at the end of the straight make a fast kink like the old woodcot…

  48. Race with camels!

  49. In two words…start again

    What a indightment on Herbert Tinkles that the tracks only a couple of years old and everyone knows its a massive snorefest – it proves that Tinky should retire and take up jigsaw puzzles. All his tracks should be looked at. The suggestions would at least give the circuit a little character, and watching on TV I’d be able to identify where the drivers are!
    Personally I think most of the corners would benefit from re-profiling – the last 2 in particular look likes theres space to make two really good corners leading to start finish
    i.e. turn 20 faster, turn 21 longer corner where the cars really ‘wind themselves up’ onto the main straight. Legard would wet himself.

  50. Of all Hermione Twinkles tracks this is his worst.

    And now he’s off to America to potentially to put prozac out of business.

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      24th November 2010, 23:12

      I Do Know How You Feel, Mikos.
      But it’s not all Tilke’s fault. I’ve worked in the marina industry for a few years, and before that I designed hotels. So I think I know how the brief might have developed on Yas Marina.
      “We want a motorbike and sidecar, Herman. A really fast one.”
      “With a six burner gas cooking hob on the side, as well.”
      “Oh, and a full set of halogen lights.”
      “And security cameras please, four of them.”
      Unless you are prepared to wrestle with the client and nail down what he/she/they want(s) in very precise terms at the outset you will wind up receiving the instructions I outlined above.
      As far as I remember, Yas Island was already pretty well planned out before they ever got Tilke involved to design a circuit there.
      And if that’s right, he would have had to work with whatever was shown in the masterplan – whatever his remonstrations it’s unlikely the client would agree to move an apartment block or shopping mall 100 metres to accommodate Tilke’s run off areas!
      Whatever the design process, it seems pretty clear now that someone miscalculated the run off area needed for F1 cars at the first hairpin. This necessitated the silly chicane on the way in. And now we are all trying to fugure out the best way to improve the circuit given that the grandstands hemm the circuit in very tightly.
      Austin might be different. As far as I can see, there is no attempt to interweave a marina, hotel, mall, airport, state capitol into the track design and the track seems to have come first . . . so it should be okay.
      I *do* have sympathy with Tilke having read the FIA regulations on new circuits. But I still can’t forgive him for his use of constant radius curves, slow corner enty onto long straights, consistent medium speed chicanes and lack of elevation/camber changes.
      Austin might be his last chance – and it looks good so far – let’s hope it’s a real belter!

      1. I am not absolutely satisfied with the design of Austin. Surely it has a whole sector of flowing corners and elevation changes but I doubt that it helps overtaking. There´s also the >1 km straight with 2 hairpins at the ends and some needless corners in sector 3.

        I´ll never understand why they don´t use the space to create flowing desert circuits.


  51. How good would it be if Bernie let the next track to be built be based on design ideas from F1 Fans….Then if it was rubbish we’d have no one to blame but ourselves!

  52. Great race tracks have unique features and no great race tracks were built on a billiard table. They all involve elevation changes, banked turns and off-camber turns. The tracks at Interlagos, Spa, Monza and Monte Carlo are examples of places where it is truly a joy to watch racing whereas Yas Marina is a boring, yawning festival where the only interesting thing is the “hairnet” over the hotel. And, maybe, the pit exit.
    What a shame that they spent multi-millions of dollars on a show-case, gaudy, look-at-me facility while only giving second thoughts to the F1 circuit itself. I think they can afford to piddle away a few million more for whatever it takes to make it a World-Class racing facility. Even if they have to demolish and rebuild a grandstand or two they could increase their meager seating capacity in the process.

    1. You obviously weren’t there…. there is NO WAY that race was a boring yawn fest…. it was exciting, tense and full of incident EVERY LAP.

      And that was just the race… the circuit itself and the entertainment put on by the organisers made it a great weekend.

      What I was disappointed by this year was the action in the support races which weren’t nearly as good as last year.

      1. No, Mark I wasn’t there. I watched it on SPEED TV with the rest of the peasants here in the U.S.A. that can’t afford the trip half way across the world.
        Follow Alonso for two laps and you could see he wasn’t getting anywhere. Same for Webber, et al. It was a wishing-well race for anyone that didn’t want Vettel to win.
        If you get that excited by a mediocre race you should switch to NASCAR Sprint Cup and you’d have an orgasm every lap.

  53. I don’t think the Abu Dhabi needs major alterations to help overtaking. The big problem is the radius of the last corner. Like the final turn in Sepang, the apex is too forgiving to give a driver behind a chance to get a run on the driver ahead.

    Tightening this corner right up will help overtaking significantly for two reasons. One, if it is tight enough it will give a driver a chance to have a dive entering the corner, either providing an overtaking opportunity or making the driver ahead drive defensively. Two, it will make it much easier for a driver behind to get a run on a driver ahead down the following straight because faster cars generally have more grip/better turn-in capability and a sharp apex exaggerates this advantage.

    Here’s a diagram of how this could look (hope link works):

    1. Sorry, link didn’t work, you’ll have to copy/paste :)

      I’d also like to add that I think the modifications proposed by Drew (and others) to the corners following the second straight are definitely an improvement.

      1. That’s a terrible idea…

        It has all the existing problems of the entry… it makes the hairpin even tighter – I’m not even sure F1 cars could get round it, it looks almost as tight as the Station Hairpin at Monaco… and by being as tight as that it would reduce overtaking on the main straight even more.

        The corner needs a bigger radius not a smaller radius…. and as discussed earlier in this thread it needs a tight in and open out configuration rather than a pointy hairpin.

  54. The track was designed for looks (made to look like a pistol) and spectators, not for driving unfortunately. The Yas Marina Circuit is breathtaking as a facility and second to none as a facility, but lacks as a track. I’ve driven both the Yas Marina Circuit and the Dubai Autodrome and can say that the Autodrome is a lot more fun to drive and would probably make a better F1 circuit.

  55. I got an idea about the chicane: how about just connect the first left turn of the chicane to the long straight using a left turn with a big radius?

  56. My version:
    1. Replaced the the chicane-hairpin with a cambered hairpin (similar to Tarzanbocht, albeit a bit tighter)

    2. Replaced the chicane at the end of the straight with a short and fast kink. The turn can be widened to allow drivers to take multiple lines, slipstreaming into the chicane at the end of the straight.

    3. Added a banked corner after the chicane, with a section similar to the last sector at Valencia, passing over a bridge to add to a spectacle, elevation change, and a possible overtaking opportunity into the 90 deg corner (ie: Kobayashi on Buemi at Valencia).

    4. Added a fast bend into a new hairpin to give a new overtaking opportunity.


  57. Apologies for the confusing wording in my previous comment:P

  58. Welcome to a Facebook Page about mine,I’ve learned a lot from your blog here,Keep on going,my friend,I will keep an eye on it,One more thing,thanks for your post!.

  59. Bruce Faucett (@)
    4th November 2011, 15:43

    I’m curious how many of the critics evaluating the proposed changes to the race circuit have ever driven a race car or competed in racing ?

    While I’m a lowly club racer, the changes being recommended look very reasonable to me. The “squiggly bits” in the first sector allow for a fast approach to a slow set of curves, and then allow a reasonable run to the original hairpin. The runoff looks to be adequate for the anticipated speeds. The netry into the “squiggly bits” will be quite exciting from teh driver’s perspective, and the runoff room looks to be adequate for the fairly high approach speeds.

    The proposed changes to the later section also look like more fun than what’s in place now. The hairpin is reduced in severity, becoming more of an “S” complex (maybe even make it decreasing radius, then increasing ?). The longer run to the hard right hander then becomes a true overtakng opportunity.

    Everyone has a right to their opinion, and many spectators have a good grasp of what makes for good racing, but several of the comments in this blog are based on false ideas of what makes a good, safe, fun race course. Simply seeing the results of attempts of amateurs to design good autocross (solo in the US) courses shows that the race course must flow from element to elemnet. Just picking pieces of course and putting them together doesn’t work.

  60. I like the new design. Sure it looks “micky mouse” on paper but if you look at the photo http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/suti_forc_abu_2009-1.jpg you will see the elevation difference and see that 1) it will be a setter show for the audience, 2) More action for the drivers 3) and more likely to be safer for the drivers and spectators than the current lay-out. The reason for the double left before the hair-pin is stated in the article. The corner is designed to make drivers “make mistakes” and in turn bunching the cars up for the hair-pin and they are closer coming onto the LONG straight.

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