ABU DHABI: As the chequered flag waved Lewis Hamilton to victory in Jeddah, putting him on level pegging with Max Verstappen in their battle for the 2021 Formula One Championship, the attention of the world’s motorsport fans and media turned to Yas Marina Circuit for what promises to be a nail-biting climax to the season in Abu Dhabi.
For the first time in 13 years, drivers and teams will be experiencing a revamped Yas Marina Circuit, with the new track layout shortened by 273 meters to 5.28km.
Following an extensive reconfiguration program during the summer across three key corners in North Hairpin, Marsa Corner and around the W Hotel section, the shorter, faster lap will allow cars to run closer together and, by default, will give the drivers more opportunity to overtake in certain areas.
Pre-race simulations by a number of teams have shown that lap times may drop by as much as 13 seconds in total, a significant decrease that will be sure to throw up a few surprises as teams adjust to new lap times of around 1 minute and 23 seconds.
Teams will be looking to get to grips with the track during the three practice sessions, ahead of Saturday’s qualifying, as they approach at more than 300 km per hour for the first time the revised, sweeping corner at North Hairpin, and race wheel-to-wheel through the elevated Marsa Corner.
The new hotel section, with reduced “Constantine effect” that previously saw drivers bunch up, has new corners that should reduce tyre slide to keep drivers on the track, helping to maintain a more tightly packed field.
While overtaking is unlikely through this section, by staying closer to one another the revised layout tees up overtaking opportunities elsewhere around the lap.
As Sunday approaches, what is certain is that Yas Marina Circuit’s revised layout will provide even more action than ever, in what will be the most exciting finale in recent years.