Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management has announced a wide-ranging track reconfiguration program at the Yas Marina Circuit that will be carried out over the summer months. The changes are set to significantly alter the driving experience and promote a more exciting spectacle at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Yas Marina Circuit has hosted the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for the past 12 years, with the 13th installment of the race scheduled to take place on Sunday, Dec. 12.
“Having an exciting race in Abu Dhabi is something we’ve been working on,” Saif Al-Noaimi, acting CEO, Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management, said. “The modifications this year are significant. It’s the first time we’ve made changes to the track since it opened in 2009. We’ve been listening to the spectators, the fans, the drivers, the teams. We, the Formula 1 management and the FIA have been working jointly on creating opportunities where we can see more changes in the lead, overtaking on the track and closer wheel-to-wheel racing.”
The restructuring of the track will take place in three areas — North Hairpin, South Marina and around the Hotel section — and will incorporate 12 corners in total, with one of the key enhancements being increased opportunities for drivers to overtake, adding an exciting new element to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and all other motorsport events.
The first zone to feature changes, the Northern Hairpin, will eliminate existing turns five and six, and will feature a wider entry, allowing drivers to go in at higher speeds and to take different racing lines through that hairpin.
“Zone two is the Marina section, the end of the Support Pit straight, which is the second DRS zone where the South Grandstand is,” Al-Noaimi said. “We are eliminating four corners over there. Effectively, there is a series of 90-degree left, right, left, left corners. Some of them are off-camber, and they’re slow corners. We’re eliminating all of this, and we’re creating a single wide, banked corner in that area. That to us is going to be the iconic corner of Yas Marina circuit.”
Finally, at the Hotel section, the new design will allow for closer racing, which in turn should lead to additional overtaking opportunities.
“There is a series of fairly sharp corners, currently numbered 17 to 20, and what we’re doing over there is opening up the radius of those corners, effectively allowing the cars to run faster through them and maintaining a flow through that section so they are able to stay closer to each other,” Al-Noaimi added.
This means that changes to turn 20 will create a full-throttle corner, allowing cars to follow more closely together with an entry speed of 253 kph, before exiting the last corner before the pit lane.
The 2020 edition of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was not accessible to the general public, but this time around fans will be back at 30 percent of the capacity — almost 16,000.
“We’re really excited to have the fans back in the stands and across the venue,” said Al-Noaimi. “Last year was challenging. We’re proud that we were able to host a limited number of frontline heroes last year, but this year it’s about having people in the grandstands, people on Abu Dhabi Hill and across the different venues.
“All of our products are now on sale: the different zones and different categories from general admission, grandstands, hospitality and VIP in the Paddock Club. We’re also implementing best practices and government guidelines in terms of safety.”
United Arab Emirates (UAE) residents attending must have received two doses of a UAE-approved coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine, as well as providing a negative PCR test result not more than 48 hours earlier. Non-UAE residents will also need to provide authorized documentation and evidence of vaccination, along with a negative PCR test result.
Fans attending this year’s event can look forward to the return of the traditional Yasalam after-race concerts, produced by Flash Entertainment, with four AAA artists, who will be announced in the coming weeks, performing each night over the course of race weekend. Each ticket holder, however, can only attend one concert that is accessible from their particular package.
Once again, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be the 2021 Formula 1 season-closing race, and this year has the added excitement of following the inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix taking place in Jeddah on Dec. 3-5.
“We’re really excited for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix to take place,” said Al-Noaimi. “It’s looking like it’s going to be a very exciting track. We’re seeing what the layout looks like, and we’re really looking forward to having another Formula 1 race in the region.
“I think what the Grand Prix in the Kingdom demonstrates is the importance of motorsports to the region and also the importance of the region to Formula 1,” he added. “Having three Grand Prix races, including Bahrain, in the region is testament to how important it is to Formula 1 and to motorsports in general. We view this as an opportunity to grow awareness about Formula 1. Having another race in our neighborhood is something we’re really excited about.”