Artist's impression: Changes to Yas Marina circuit for 2021

Yas Marina changing track layout to aid overtaking at F1 season finale

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Major changes are being made to two sections of the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi ahead of the Formula 1 season finale in December.

The circuit owners are understood to have approved plans to aid overtaking at the track by removing two series of slow corners.

The image above, produced by RaceFans, reflects the changes which are being made to the track. Turns four, five and six will be replaced with a single left-handed hairpin, leading drivers onto the first back straight.

Later in the lap the current turns 11, 12, 13 and 14 will be replaced with a single, sweeping left-hand curve. This will also be slightly banked.

The circuit, situated on the purpose-built island of Yas, has been the venue of the final race of the season every year since 2014. However drivers have regularly described it as one of the most difficult circuits to overtake on.

The first changes to the track, which F1 has raced at since it opened in 2009, are likely to significantly reduce lap times. Lewis Hamilton established the course record during qualifying for the 2019 race with a best lap of 1’34.779.

It is the latest in a series of circuits to undergo revisions this year. Last month F1 at the Circuit de Catalunya, which featured a remodelled turn 10. The Albert Park circuit in Australia, which is due to host the 21st round on the calendar, is also being extensively reworked.

With the addition of the new Jeddah Street Circuit as the venue for the penultimate round of the world championship, the final three races of the 2021 F1 season will all take place on new or significantly altered layouts.

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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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48 comments on “Yas Marina changing track layout to aid overtaking at F1 season finale”

  1. I think I remember these were exactly the kind of things discussed in an article here (and the comments below it) a few years back, about what could be done at this track without having to do immense work (because of the grandstands, the hotel position and runoff areas).

    Let’s hope we can get an Abu Dhabi race that is at least not worse than a “birdie” compared to the rest of the racing this year.

    1. @bascb Deleting the chicane is an obvious improvement. Frankly it’s baffling they built it in the first place.

      The other change is more ambitious and I’m impressed they’ve gone for it. It’ll be a much more interesting corner than watch them plodding through those tedious angular bends.

      1. @keithcollantine

        Frankly it’s baffling they built it in the first place.

        I think it was because they wanted the Turn 7 grandstand to be as close to the track as possible and by not having the chicane at Turns 5-6, the Turn 7 hairpin (if it stayed as it is) would have almost no run off area after a long flat-out stretch.

        Turns out after 12 unsuccessful races, they thought “maybe let’s prioritise the track layout for once…”

    2. @bascb I really hope so. Won’t be watching the KSA race, so would really like Abu Dhabi to give us a banger! Yes, 2012 was good, but it was also, you know, 2012. If the championship goes down to the wire it’ll add extra spice to it.

  2. Hmm i mean i see the track being more fun as especially the second of the altered chicanes Was pretty clumsy imho but aid overtaking? not so sure tbh. didnt they essentially ‘Ease’ two of the hardest braking points and follow them up with slightly faster and therefore potentially more aero-dependent corners…?

    1. @mrboerns I think the problem with current turn 6 is that it starts the straight from very low speeds, so the car ahead is initially pulling away a lot. Having a medium-speed corner ahead of the straight would resolve that, even if it is more aero-dependent (is my expectation), although I’m not sure the proposed corner has the best shape for it. We will find out, I suppose.
      The second change I’m not so sure about, because removing the big braking zones might indeed take away one overtaking opportunity.

      1. @adrianmorse i’m not saying you’re wrong, i’m just saying that to me this sounds an awful lot like the exact opposite of what we are told each year about Barcelona

  3. The ‘banked’ corner (probably just a bit on-camber) would be good, expect that it does come at the end of a long straight. Will that actually enhance overtaking?

    The other change would be good.
    Lap will be quite a bit quicker now you’d imagine.

    1. With the banking, I assume the aim is that 2 cars can take it side by side. Effectively, it would extend the straight. And with the DRS zone preceding it, it would slingshot the cars through there. I’m sure Pirelli will love this too ;) Could be quite spectacular if it works out.

      The idea looks similar to what they want to achieve in Zandvoort (although I fear the longer straight will still be too short there).

      1. They are trying to recreate Turn 1 (San Donato) in Mugello or in Zandvoort (Tarzan) and last year we saw that banked/camber corners allow different racelines and wheel to wheel fights.

      2. @br444m the banked corner idea reminds me a bit of turn 1 at Mugello. That’s a slingshot bend that follows a long straight. Worked v well for overtaking and looked good too.

        @keithcollantine do you agree?

  4. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
    21st June 2021, 13:08

    F1 is undergoing some significant circuit changes like the ones happened in 2002 and mostly in 2003. Abu Dhabi is one of the main circuits needing a fresh look, as it has struggled to provide any sort of solid racing. The proposed changes look ok, i like the change at turn 7 but I’m not fully convinced on the turn 11-14 reprofile

  5. It’s not the circuit’s fault there’s no overtaking. It’s the cars/regulations/dirty air.

    1. In this case the track actually has a lot to do with it too @nmgn

      1. @bascb No, don’t think so. I’m pretty confident there will be lots of overtaking if you put Formule E cars on track for instance. Compare Monaco’s FE with F1’s race and there’s your proof. Lots of action/overtaking vs none. Could be same for F1 from next year onwards though, lets hope.

        1. That is not proof at all that the track is fine as is @nmgn, just that both the cars AND the track are an issue.

          Given the fact this track was purposely designed for F1 cars which at the time of building had pretty close to the same levels of downforce as they have now already (and no DRS!), it clearly is not doing what it was supposed to do: give an audience a memorable race on track.

          That series like FE or say karts. Or rallye cars, sportscars etc can race each other better on a track simply doesn’t make it a good track.

          1. @bascb We agree to disagree then, I say change the cars, you say change the tracks. Luckily both will be changed (for the better hopefully).

          2. @bascb The late-2000s cars have considerably less DF than 2017-present ones.
            @nmgn In Monaco’s case, solely about the track, but elsewhere, mostly down to aero.

          3. That is nonsense @nmgn. Off course we ALSO need to change the cars, what is coming next year is hopefully a step in the right direction.

  6. The “Turn 4” change should create a minor overtaking spot and increase speeds in a corner that is really too slow for the cars.

    The “Turn 11” change I’m not so sure on. I don’t think the corner will be better for overtaking, but one effect of the slow chicane there is that passing someone back immediately is quite common, a simpler corner will remove that chance.

    Look forward to finding out later this year.

    1. The old turns 4, 5 and 6 made it practically impossible to follow each other closely, so I am massively in favour of the new layout. I feel that this might improve overtaking dramatically to the point that a shorter DRS-zone is preferred.

      The turn 11 will not improve overtaking I think, because the braking zone is shorter. I do feel that the new corner will have a much better flow, especially because it is slightly banked rather than the off camber that it is now. It will improve close racing towards corner 15, but I don’t think that that corner will become a regular overtaking spot.

  7. I don’t understand the change of turn 11, which was one of the clearest overtaking points. Replacing it with a very wide-angled turn doesn’t convince me. Let’s see if the banking helps in it.

  8. The proposed changes would indeed reduce lap times, but the impact on overtaking is another matter.

    1. @jerejj I don’t think there can be a negative impact on overtaking tbh

    2. One benefit of reduced laptimes is that, should these changes fail to encourage overtaking, at least the races will be over sooner.

        1. Never change a circuit during a season for what ever reason

          Reply moderated
  9. On the Abu Dhabi Circuit website they already have a simulation of the circuit with these changes: https://static.myconnect.ae/-/media/yasconnect/project/ymc/f1-2020-assets/3d-maps/2021-maps-en/f1-3d-maps-en-d-hero.jpg

    Reply moderated
  10. The remodelled corner after the second back straight kinda reminds me of turn 1 in Mugello, especially if it is banked. Might not be the worst thing in the world, as we saw in Mugello with there being multiple lines through the corner and plenty of overtaking around the outside. I fully support the decision to remove turns 4, 5 and 6 with a single, faster corner. The issue previously was that the hairpin leading onto the straight was so slow that it took till halfway down the straight for the driver behind to even catch up to the same speed as the driver ahead. All in all, this should make Abu Dhabi a better circuit. Not great, but better.

  11. It’s great that they’re at least attempting to change the layout to aid overtaking, I personally like the turn 4 change, but for turn 11? I’m not sure, that section is one of the better places to overtake originally and sort of reminds me of the change they made to Catalunya which didn’t make a huge difference in aiding overtaking.

    I hope to be wrong though when we see the race there later this year.

  12. The changes look encouraging and show they’re willing to make improvements, although I’m astounded it took them this long.
    What I like is the ambition of the changes – reconfiguring the first chicane is a sensible one that many have flagged, but the new banked corner is a bold choice. Definitely better than what I expected!

  13. Looks like someone stole my idea (I want my royalties or a Paddock Club Pass)…… I even mentioned that they should make a cambered corner a la San Donato or Tarzan after the second straight.

    Link

  14. Nice! These new tracks and their obsession sometimes with endless right angle corners really does frustrate. So fidgety and achieve nothing. So this is a great set of changes! Can they do something similar to Singapore somehow πŸ˜‚??

    1. @davidhunter13 Impossible. Street circuits are pretty inflexible as surrounding buildings and other features around existing regular roads dictate pretty much everything in track design.

      1. The emoji implied that he very much knew this and was joking

  15. Happy to see this attempted. The banked turn will actually have far more reaching consequences beyond that turn. Because, by eliminating a string of low speed corners, cars will actually be setup differently with lower focus on mechanical and low speed corners. What this would mean is that top speeds could be slightly more. Overtaking may improve at the current turn 7-8. The new banked corner will also be faster and even more challenging. Also, overtaking moves may complete at the entrance to the hotel section making cars go side by side through the banked turn and the following fast right hander turns. Encouraging changes. 10 years too late. But better late than never.

  16. It only took them 11 years to aid overtaking

  17. Curious how they will design new T11 (or whatever you wanna call it now) as in the sketch it joins the short straight right next to the marina, so there is no run-off at all. So the little green line on the map can mean anything atm.

  18. I hope turn 4 is wide on the entrance to encourage different lines. I think that will be needed to enable close following on to the subsequent straight. The location of the DRS line will also need to be before turn 4. Apologies for mentioning DRS.

  19. About time they change it.

    1. But on the other side we probably won’t see the new change in the video game.

  20. These changes are good. But I would make Turn 4 a constant radius to make it even faster.

    1. Idea is to encourage multiple lines!

  21. The only really needed to change 1 part, the track.

  22. Make 15 and 16 narrower and slower, so it will be possible to change trajectory between 16 and 17. And make whole 3rd section very narrow. Baku between corners 1 and 2 is very reach on overtaking.

  23. Very optimistic about these changes , the stop and go nature of the deleted areas spaced the cars out

  24. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    22nd June 2021, 8:52

    Now if only they could get rid of the hotel section and connect turn 15-16 to 20. It’d become a Monza-esque layout with some fun overtaking spots.

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