2011 F1 calendar
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.
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
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.
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.
Turns 11 to 15
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.
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 Marina with revisions by Populous
Read F1 Fanatic’s earlier interview with Populous
- “We need to make Abbey quicker” – how Populous redesigned Silverstone (Part 1)
- Silverstone’s architects on making F1 circuits challenging but safe (Part 2)
Images © Yas Marina/Populous, Force India F1 Team, Ferrari spa