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”

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  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).

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