Abu Dhabi Grand Prix—Preview

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The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is a unique event, starting at sunset and finishing in the dusk, with the sun setting during the early phase of the race. The Grand Prix takes place on the ultra-modern Yas Marina Circuit. The inaugural race was Formula One’s first ever day-night race.

Surrounded by desert sands, the track features an exceptional setting with a stunning hotel overlooking the flat circuit. Especially during Friday practice and the race, the temperatures will go in the opposite direction to those we usually experience. The first sector features a mix of mid to high-speed corners, the second one is about straight-line speed, braking and traction and the third sector looks like a street circuit and calls for grip and downforce.

History

The circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke, and is situated on the peninsula of Yas Island, about 30 minutes from the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi. Yas Marina is the second Formula One track in the Middle East, with the first being in Bahrain.
The first ever action on the track was a GP2 test in 2009 which took place one week before Formula One assembled in Abu Dhabi for its inaugural round there. Since then, GP3, GP2, V8 Supercars, Drag Racing, GT1 World and the Gulf 12 Hours visited the complex.
The Moving Circus first came to Abu Dhabi in 2007 in the guise of the first ever Formula One Festival. The event which took place on 3 February 2007 was free, and the largest gathering of current Formula One cars and drivers outside of a Grand Prix. It was announced during that event that Abu Dhabi had won the rights to host a Grand Prix from 2009 until 2016. Later that year, Etihad Airways negotiated a three-year deal for them to become sponsors of the Grand Prix.

The construction of the circuit cost 893 million EUR. The main contractor was Cebarco-WCT WLL and the Hermann Tikle-led company was responsible for the design. The circuit was the first ever day-night venue in the history of Formula One. Musco Lighting was responsible for the permanent lighting system which is similar to that installed at the Losail Circuit in Qatar. The letter was the biggest permanent sports venue lighting project in the world, but the Yas Marina system took over this title.

The track surface is made of greywacke aggregate which was shipped from England. This surface is acclaimed by the drivers for the high grip level it offers.

The marina-based development includes a theme park, a water park, as well as residential areas, hotels and beaches. The circuit has five grandstand areas (Main Grandstand, West Grandstand, North Grandstand, South Grandstand and Marina Grandstand. The complex also houses a team building behind the pit building, Media Centre, Drag Strip, VIP Tower and Ferrari World Theme Park.

The circuit has a unique pit exit. It does not connect to the first corner as it would be too dangerous due to the high speed at which drivers approach the first bend. The exit dips under the main circuit by way of a tunnel.

Track layout

The track with its length of 5.554km is one of the longest tracks on the calendar. The race is 55 laps long, meaning the driver’s have to complete a total race distance of 305.355km. The cars circulate anti-clockwise around the Hermann Tilke-designed complex.

There is only a short distance from the first row to the first corner. The pole-sitter has to cover only 300m before it can throw its car into the first high-speed corner. The circuit is made up of 21 bends, 12 of which are left-handed ones.

The track is a real mixture of fast and slow-speed sections. The speed drops below the 100kph mark in 6 corners (T5, T6, T7, T8, T9 and T11 while the cars attain speeds over 250kph in 5 bends: T2, T4, T10, T15 and T16. In fact, turn 4 and turn 10 are not real corners, only slight curvatures.

The top asphalt layer is smooth, hence the tyre degradation is pretty low. The brake wear is at medium level. Drivers apply the brakes
11 times during a lap, four of those applications are heavy. Engine performance is important as drivers travel approximately 66 per cent of the lap at full throttle. The longest full-throttle section lasts 14.1 seconds.