Hairpin bends to greet Abu Dhabi racers


Abu Dhabi Grand Prix track modifications Image: Abu Dhabi Motorsport

Formula One’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (UAE) in December this year will see the unveiling of significant changes to the Yas Island track.

‘The National’ stated that along with the return of spectators, four nights of gyrating concerts, and celebrations of UAE’s Golden Jubilee National Day, there will be a “significant configuration program” designed to enhance the experience for drivers and fans.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is a Formula One motor racing event. It was announced in early 2007 at the Abu Dhabi F1 Festival in the United Arab Emirates. The first race took place on November 1st, 2009, and was held at the Hermann Tilke (German racing driver)-designed Yas Marina Circuit.

The 60,000-capacity Yas Marina Circuit is the venue for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke and is situated on Yas Island, about 30 minutes from the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi.

Saif Al Noaimi, Acting Chief Executive, Abu Dhabi Motor Sports, recently revealed the first alterations made to the track since it was opened in 2009 – “We have been listening to the fans, drivers, the teams, the Formula One management and the FIA of the track change. We have been working jointly with everyone concerned to come up with this design to create more overtaking opportunities, wheel-to-wheel racing, and enable drivers to follow each other closer in order to get into position to make overtaking moves.”

‘The National’ further stated that the changes will feature modifications to three parts of the circuit, incorporating 12 corners in total.

The first is the North hairpin, and Naomi added, “We are eliminating turns five and six, the chicane before the hairpin, and widening the entry to the North hairpin. The drivers are going to enter that corner at a faster speed on a wider entry that provides an opportunity for out-breaking. It also provides the opportunity to take different racing lines through that hairpin.”

The zone two marina section at the end of the support pits is eliminating four corners.

Noaimi continued, “That is going to be a fast corner. It’s going to be banked with a wide entry with cars entering that corner at a higher rate of speed, higher apex speed, different racing lines, and higher exit speed.”

The third part to be changed is the hotel section, currently numbered 17 to 20 to which Noaimi informed, “We are allowing the cars to run faster through them and maintaining a flow so they are able to stay closer to each other. The last thing about that section that’s exciting is what’s currently known as Turn 20 which is going to be a flat-out corner in F1. That’s the last corner before the entry to the pit lane.”

With Red Bull’s Max Verstappen (Belgian-Dutch racing driver) leading world champion Lewis Hamilton(British racing driver) of Mercedes, Formula One is looking for a competitive end to the season at the inaugural Saudi Grand Prix on December 5th this year followed by Abu Dhabi a week later.

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix is a Formula One motor racing event that is due to first take place in 2021. The inaugural edition of the race is set to be held in Jeddah. The race is set to be the second full night race on the Formula One calendar, following the Singapore Grand Prix.

Noaimi added, “So far it’s been playing out to be an exciting season. Both Max and Lewis are exchanging leads in the championship. We have seen some great wheel-to-wheel racing and some great overtaking. Red Bull and Mercedes seem to be performing differently on different tracks. We are still quite early on in the season but we hope that it will continue like this until the championship decider in Abu Dhabi.”

The Emirati added, “We are really excited to have the fans back in the stands and across the venue. The event this year has opened for 30 percent capacity, which is around 16,000 spectators. We are glad to welcome the fans back but we are implementing the best practices and Government guidelines in terms of COVID-19 safety protocol.”

This year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix coincides with the nation’s 50th National Day and comes soon after the inaugural Saudi Grand Prix.

Noaimi continued, “The Grand Prix in the Kingdom demonstrates the importance of motorsports to the region and importance of the region for Formula One. To have three Grand Prix races in the region (including Bahrain) here is a testament to how important this region is turning out to be for F1 and motorsports. In terms of having two races at the end of the season in the region are going to be another exciting thing, hopefully we would be looking forward to a championship decided in the region.”

Letting hair down

Plans are in place to stage four nights of concerts after every racing session.

Maintained Noaimi, “It’s going to be high-caliber artistes on each night. The challenge this year is with the capacity within the 40,000-capacity Etihad Park, each fan will have to select one night to attend the concert. As we announce the artistes over the next few weeks, we will give priority to the existing ticket holders to select one of those nights before we open up to those who still haven’t purchased the tickets.”

Ross Brawn, Managing Director, Formula One, observed, “As host of the Formula One season-finale, Yas Marina Circuit has established itself as one of the most popular venues for motorsport fans around the world to attend. We are fully supportive of the decision to make improvements to the track, with the aim of enhancing the overall motorsport experience across the board, including the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, for both competitors and spectators.”

Concluded Brawn, “Given its position as the final race in the Formula 1 season, it is always a special date on the calendar, and with this year’s event set to be the first on the new-look track and the last race before we enter the new era of F1 in 2022, there is added incentive to look forward to the spectacle.”

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