Tilke considering “small” Abu Dhabi track change to make passing easier

2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Formula One circuit designer Hermann Tilke says a change is being considered for the Yas Marina circuit to improve overtaking.

The track has gained a reputation for being very difficult to overtake on since its first race in 2009. Following today’s race Lewis Hamilton complained it was almost “impossible” to make a more on his team mate Valtteri Bottas.

How Populous suggested changing Yas Marina in 2010
Tilke told Sky: “We have an idea to change one corner,” to address the problem. “It’s a very small change by the way. But maybe it has a lot of impact. We are in discussion.”

While not giving away any details about the potential alteration, Tilke denied that removing the chicane at turn four and five was a consideration.

Tilke’s company has had input into the design of almost every circuit on the calendar. However he said there are other factors which make overtaking difficult in Formula One.

“The fastest [car] was in front of the slower, you cannot overtake,” he said. “So what to do. If it is lined up in this way, then what to do? When the faster car is in front and the slower car is behind, what to do?”

“It’s maybe the fault of the car and the fault of the circuit, maybe.”

Races at Yas Marina have received an average rating of 6.46 out of 10 from F1 Fanatic readers. It is ranked 21st out of the 28 tracks which have held races in the past 10 years. Four tracks on the 2018 F1 calendar are rated below it: Singapore, Hockenheimring, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez and Sochi Autodrom.

2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    45 comments on “Tilke considering “small” Abu Dhabi track change to make passing easier”

    1. One change to consider is removing the bump on the apex of every corner. That ruins stability and prevents a good drive through each corner. It’s almost painful to watch.

      I had a go at redesigning the track a few months ago, I’ll see if I can upload my idea somewhere

      1. Good comment l completely agree. Improve the existing track, correct this first before rushing the solution by accepting a change that does not solve why it was changed.

      2. @Strontium Yes, it seems that way, very smooth surface but all of the sudden negative camber and a bump.

        The chicane after the 1st long straight, the one that’s there for overtaking ruins overtaking, first the double DRS is a problem, secondly the shape of the second part of that chicane means nobody overtakes on the braking area after the 2nd long straight, I believe this is the small area that’s under Tilke’s scrutiny, as a small change ought to make a big difference. After the 2 long straights there’s an interesting “Singapore Sling” chicane that does not work because soon afterwards you are turning left on negative camber, this section until the cars pass below the Hotel could work really well for overtaking, unfortunately the geometry and the calculations were not appropriate for the pace of f1 cars. The short straights between the corners on sector 3 are too short and too narrow to enable anyone to take advantage of different lines over these corners.

    2. A small solution to solve it all: “no” Abu dhabi track.
      Can someone refer to who said Tilke knew how to build tracks?

      1. Michael Brown (@)
        26th November 2017, 19:10

        China and Malaysia are good tracks. You know, his first two original circuits.

        1. @mbr-9, Istanbul Park is often also cited as another circuit that was fairly popular with both drivers and fans. As for this circuit, when you look at the link that Keith has put up with Populous’s proposed alternative layout, it’s not as if many have come up with vastly better alternatives.

    3. It’s not just that it’s difficult to overtake at this circuit, but the fact that it’s not a good circuit to begin with makes it worse. Slow corners and hairpins, generally speaking, are not very interesting to watch, nor are they particularly challenging for an F1 car (Aside from maybe the brakes). What’s more, the slow-corner-onto-a-long-straight overtaking theory doesn’t seem to work if the corner is too slow. Off-cambered corners don’t help either.

      Monaco might be difficult to race on but at least it’s an interesting circuit in my view. Baku might not be a good circuit, but at least there was some action (This year anyway). It’s going to take more than just a small change Mr Tilke!

      1. The hairpin before long straight has to stop. It just separates the cars. And then the super long straight just wastes track length. Also I think tracks need to be significantly shorter—more to see for spectators, more traffic. If it’s spa, that’s one thing. But here, you are looking at lots of empty stands and run-off on tv.

      2. Agree. Just needs a series of small changes…

        Small changes made with a thousand bulldozers and a few billion dollars. They have the money – knock down that architectural tribute to more-money-than-taste hotel. Turn the ample parking lot track run off areas into parking lots. Make 90 degree turns only with the bulldozers.

        Build up the terrain and make a 1:1 copy of the old 14km Spa circuit. Job done.

    4. No, the circuit or circuits in general, don’t need changes, but rather the cars regarding how they’re designed Aerodynamically.

      1. I don’t agree. China, COTA, Barcelona, Austria, Silverstone, some tracks show that it is definitely possible for these cars to follow through twisty bits. The clue is to not include constant 90-degree corners mixed with stop-and-go. A flowing track in F1 almost invariably allows them to follow each other relatively well.

    5. Only “one small change”?
      He really hasn’t got a clue!

      1. Euro Brun (@eurobrun)
        Only “one small change”?
        How about the whole track been dug up and we forget about it.
        As an aside, the track layout just shows this race had little to do
        with wanting exciting races, and everything to do with the hosts wanting
        to showcase their country, money been no object of course.

    6. Interesting that Singapore and Mexico both have lower ratings than this. Might that be because Abu Dhabi had races that were spectacular in a more macro context? 2010, it decided a world championship (in a very dull race). 2012, Kimi won a race we all still remember (which was dull). 2016, Hamilton backing up Rosberg led to edge of the seat excitement (but the race itself was so dull). Whereas Mexico has now had three races, the latter two have had enthralling parts. And Singapore gets a bad rap for being difficult to overtake, but its races are to my mind almost always good, and some have been great. Interesting insight into the mind of ‘rate the race’. Singapore for sure, and to me Mexico as well, have far more reason to be in F1. Hockenheim I can understand, although I have a sneaking suspicion 2010 led to quite some dissent, and well, Sochi… Is the worst circuit F1 has had since it left Indianapolis. And Sochi at least has some great corners, if unfortunately not corners that are conducive to good racing.

      1. Yes, how is Singapore and Mexico worse?

      2. @hahostolze @jureo +1

        @mbr-9 Don’t think the Populous changes are a good start. I agree with @toiago though the elimination of the chicane after the 2nd straight is pointless, the problem with that chicane is the short straight that leads to a negative camber left hander. The hairpin brought sooner is a good idea mbr, and the chicane after the first straight needs reshaping as Strontium suggested.
        Overall there are too many infrastructural, geographic restrictions in order to solve this track. The shape is not the problem, but with f1 cars, the layout never worked, the cars needed to be a lot slower.
        There are small changes that could make some of the intended overtaking places feasible, the populous changes would amount to nothing in terms of overtaking

    7. Michael Brown (@)
      26th November 2017, 18:02

      The Populous changes are a good start.

      Personally, for the current track, the hairpin needs to be brought forward (for the sake of lack of runoff) and the chicane before it has to be removed. Get rid of the chicane at the end of the second straight, and replace it with a single turn that goes into turn 14.

      1. @mbr-9 “The Populous changes are a good start.”

        I don’t like them, at all. Their only positive is the elimination of the chicane after the second straight, but that aside it is no better.

        I agree with you in that the chicane before the first straight should be removed. I also think that the two long radius corners before it should be reduced in radius, making the next straight a bit longer and allowing for better slipstreaming. I would also make the chicane in between straights not so tight. Opening it up would allow the cars to follow each other more easily, instead of generating a huge concertina effect as it is.

    8. Someone Else needs to modify the track.

    9. Michael Brown (@)
      26th November 2017, 19:11

      I propose this change: nuke it from orbit, just to be sure. Same goes for the Sochi track.

      1. Sounds good to me :-)
        This track has the most boring layout of the season. Boring for everyone: drivers, fans, and even racing.

    10. Thinking out loud here. How about driving around the track the other way? The last turn if it became turn 1 reminds me of a flattened turn 1 at Austin.

      1. Extended thought – Which circuits on the current would become better if they were all reversed?

        1. @brickles Obviously NOT Spa. Arriving at the top of Eau Rouge at speed to go downhill doesn’t bare thinking about. ;-)

          1. @ijw1 And approaching those kinks at Baku at 350kph plus would be pretty terrifying as well

          2. Terrifying yes.

            It used to be terrifying the other way too.

            Just shows how neutered the sport is when even us fans are saying, no too scary.

    11. The layout change in the smaller image that was suggested back in 2010 actually doesn’t look too bad. The ‘at the time’ recommended changes to sector 1 could actually improve overtaking chances on the longest straight of the circuit as it would be easier to stay close enough to the car in front at the hairpin.

    12. I suggest changing it to this:

    13. I guess the link feature doesn’t work: https://www.rentarace.com/img/tracks/122.png

    14. You know what he should do? Change every corner except for the first 3 corners, and change some of the general layout of the facility to accomodate it, and to of course remove the anti-camber of some of those corners. My idea is to make the track more variation- and to make it much faster: the average speed around here should be 150+ mph (240 km/h). Here is a redesign:


      1. Yeah and move it to another country while you’re at it

    15. The track needs change and word “small” does not encompass the scope of change it needs.

    16. Nick (@theawesomefish)
      26th November 2017, 21:28

      I did come across a BBC article about the place in the run up to the weekend, and it did make a very good point, I think. The facilities and suchlike are apparently first rate, but the track itself – which is what Formula One is fundamentally all bout – is dreadful. They had a Raikkonen quote from a few years back which escapes me at the moment, but you could even hear Bot/Ham/Vet complaining about it in the rest room after this year’s race, and they’d all finished on the podium.

      The absurd 90-after-90 Sector 3, running alongside the marina and underneath the hotel, is a perfect example of what’s wrong with the Abu Dhabi circuit, in my view. They intentionally built the track around the facilities. For a street race such as Baku or Monaco, there isn’t much leeway there, but with a man-made island, they could have any design they wanted. It’s just a shame that good racing was never a priority.

    17. I would remove the 5/6 chicane & bring the hairpin in a bit to create more run-off.

      Open up the exit of the 8/9 chicane a little & make turn 14 a bit less tight to make overtaking a bit more possible if cars are still alongside after the prior 11/12/13 chicane.

      In a lot of the suggestions I see around they always remove the 11/12/13 chicane, I would keep that totally unaltered because not only do I think its a fun little challenging sequence of corners but it’s proved a dozen times over the years that it is a section that can provide some fun racing.
      Not every corner needs or should be about how possible it is to overtake there, Some corners are good/great because while not the best spot in terms of overtaking/racing there a fun little challenge be it in terms of braking, kerb use or due to banking, camber of undulation. 11/12/13 reminds me of the way chicanes like Variana Alta at Imola or the 1st 2 chicanes at Monza used to be, Sections where you have to be precise as far as how you use the kerb, Use too much & you lose time but don’t use enough & again you lose time & I feel sections like that are lacking in modern F1 (Especially with the way kerbs generally are now).

    18. What Tilke knows about designing a track where passing is possible could fit on the head of a pin.

      1. Hahaha, he has definitely proven not to be the sharpest tool in the set yeah

    19. There is no chance the Populous change #2 would be considered – this would take the track away from the yachting set.
      A sort of loop around that area would speed the track a little and change the character considerably.

    20. “While not giving away any details about the potential alteration, Tilke denied that removing the chicane at turn four and five was a consideration.”

      That’s exactly the change I would make… Why not a new, long turn 4 connected directly to the back straight? It would have the shape of a parabola, starting exactly where it starts currently.

    21. Can’t they incorporate part of the roller coaster from Ferrari World?

    22. Move Istanbul park to Abu Dhabi. What a shame thats not used again

    23. Turkey, Korea, India, Malaysia. Four racing tracks not on next year’s calendar. Every single one of them is better than Abu Dhabi for racing. And Brazil has got to be the season finale. Imagine Vettel and Hamilton tied on points and this is the race we get.

      1. Money driven only. Disgusting. Liberty should be ashamed of itself if these venues are still on the calendar in a few years time (pending current contractual obligations, made before their time). If they stay on you are flipping the finger to your audience and openly admitting you are in it for the money only

    24. Seriously, just dump Tilke. He’s done enough (harm). Why on earth have the same designer producing the circuits? It’s obvious that the same ideas (and mistakes) will end up being repeated. Formula 1 seems to specialized in these monopolies. One designer, one race director, one ‘owner’ until recently, one special team allowed to dictate to the rest. Any new tracks should be assigned to someone else. Let’s seem some creativity and difference in the designs. And no more Tilke-designed parking lots.

      1. You are right. Seriously… lets stop all this nonsense with same same same again and again. This is so Bernie/FIA/FIFA behaviour that really does not resonate with new generations of viewers

    25. Lets skip this race alltogether. Plenty of venues out there. Hopefully Liberty will shift balance to other sources of revenue and stop visiting these ridiculous Bernie locations

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