ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi Motorsports has revealed the newly configured Yas Marina Circuit ahead of the December Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix during a week of activity that will see the track’s first public drive.
The announcement followed an extensive reconfiguration program to improve the 12-year-old track’s overall race experience ahead of the race weekend of Dec. 9 to 12.
The changes will come into play during the 13th edition of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix where championship leader Max Verstappen, reigning champion Lewis Hamilton, and the rest of the field will battle it out in closer wheel-to-wheel racing around the new 5.28-kilometer track.
A shorter, faster lap, and more overtaking potential will offer fans extra action across the race.
Saif Al-Noaimi, deputy chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management, said: “It’s an incredible moment in history for Yas Marina Circuit.
“These are the first upgrades to the track since the circuit was first constructed in 2009. Since then, Formula One cars, along with others in our fleets, have evolved in their design and performance and as such, we are committed to progressing with them to offer the ultimate racing experience across the events held at the Circuit.”
Restructuring took place in three key areas of the track – the north hairpin, south marina, and around the hotel section. One of the driving factors behind the changes was to increase the average speed and wheel-to-wheel racing around the track to have increased opportunities for drivers to overtake, benefiting the overall motorsport spectacle, for the drivers and fans.
Changes to the north hairpin section of the circuit are some of the most significant. The former turn five and turn six chicane has been removed and the previous turn seven hairpin has been widened to a 20-meter-wide corner which will now be approached at around 300kph.
The deletion of the slow corners in the chicane means that cars will remain closer into the straight, allowing for faster acceleration speeds out onto a long straight creating more opportunity to overtake.
The newly named marsa corner (formerly south marina) now features an iconic super-elevated hairpin, with cornering speeds of up to 240 kph, presenting an exhilarating challenge for the drivers in comparison to the former marina sequence which consisted of slow-speed corners.
The hotel sequence may appear similar but each of the corners from the former turn 17 through to turn 20 have been opened on the inside. The philosophy here was to reduce the “Constantine effect” where cars had previously bunched up but then gradually separated through the sequence.
The previous negative camber and slow-speed corners resulted in a high degree of tire sliding and led to increased tire temperatures and wear. The new design is limited by the passing under the hotel but opening the corners should reduce tire slide to keep drivers on the track and maintain a tightly packed field for a thrilling race. Overtaking will be unlikely here, but by staying closer to one another, it will tee up overtaking opportunities elsewhere around the lap.
The sequence of changes across the three sections will have a cumulative effect and enhance motorsports events hosted at the venue for drivers and spectators. Drivers will now test their skills behind the wheel and the skills of their opponents by giving them a new chance to overtake.
Mark Hughes, managing director of track design consultant Mrk1 Consulting, said: “After almost a year of planning with Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management, it’s amazing to see the designs come to life over the past few months.
“Yas Marina Circuit is already one of the most modern and impressive Formula 1 tracks in the world, and these enhancements will ensure spectators in attendance will see a wealth of entertainment across all motorsports disciplines moving forward, as well as providing exhilarating racing for those on the track.”