F1 drivers give thumbs up to Abu Dhabi's track upgrades

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton says the Yas Marina Circuit is free-flowing and more enjoyable, while the changes have also made a positive first impression on four-time champion Sebastian Vettel


Ashwani Kumar

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The Turn 5 North Grandstand Hairpin at the Yas Marina Circuit. — Supplied photo
The Turn 5 North Grandstand Hairpin at the Yas Marina Circuit. — Supplied photo

Published: Sat 11 Dec 2021, 4:24 PM

Last updated: Sat 11 Dec 2021, 4:41 PM

Drivers are impressed with the new layout and reconfigured track of the Yas Marina Circuit for the season-ending Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Over the summer, the organisers made the first upgrades to the track since the circuit was first built in 2009. Modifications were made at the north hairpin, south marina and around the hotel section to ensure thrilling wheel-to-wheel racing.

Drivers said now there are more overtaking opportunities and faster acceleration than before.

Defending champion Lewis Hamilton said the upgrades are going to make it a “super close” race.

“I like the changes they’ve made to the track — it’s made it free-flowing and more enjoyable.”

Most significant modifications have been made at the north hairpin with the removal of the former Turn 5 and Turn 6 chicane. The previous Turn 7 hairpin has been widened to a 20-metre-wide corner, which will now be approached at around 300kph. The newly named Marsa Corner features an iconic super elevated hairpin with cornering speeds of up to 240kph. 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 Turn 9 Marsa Hairpin at the Yas Marina Circuit. — Supplied photo
The Turn 9 Marsa Hairpin at the Yas Marina Circuit. — Supplied photo

The changes made a “positive first impression” on Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel.

“It is a good challenge to have the new circuit layout. It is faster and more exciting to drive. I think some of the weaker turns have been replaced with stronger corners.”

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas enjoyed driving around the 5.28km track.

“The track feels better than before with more flow and some increased overtaking opportunities.”

McLaren’s Lando Norris hoped his team analysts would be able to maximise from the data off the track.

“It’s nice to drive the new circuit, there are quite a few differences — both in the layout but also how the tyres behave as well.”

In what could be a close title-deciding race on Sunday, the new upgrades will test the skills of the drivers behind the wheel.

Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll acknowledged the new design will provide a thrilling encounter.

“The track is definitely faster and has more flow to it, which makes it cool and fun to drive.”

AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly added: “The layout is really different, it feels like a new track with a lot more high-speed corners, so it’s really cool.”


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