Abu Dhabi F1 track revealed in pictures

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The Yas Island F1 circuit in Abu Dhabi winds beneath a hotel
The Yas Island F1 circuit in Abu Dhabi winds beneath a hotel

The FIA has given its official seal of approval to the Yas Island circuit which will host the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – the final F1 race of the year.

These first pictures of the completed circuit show some of its unusual details – including the hotel which bridges across the track at one point.

When the F1 circus arrives there in three weeks’ time expect the usual uniform chorus of approval for F1’s latest megabucks venue. And the facilities indeed look impressive.

But is the track any good? Has it got real character – or is it another template from the Hermann Tilke cookie cutter? Have your say in the comments.

Update: Some new footage of the track in this video:

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Images (C) Yas Island circuit

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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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64 comments on “Abu Dhabi F1 track revealed in pictures”

  1. Looks as pretty as expected, and the layout looks better than Singapore at least. But it’s a Tilkefied Monaco, so no great racing expected.

    1. so no great racing expected.???
      nice and wide and the run to the hairpin in photo 3 looks great, the whole arena feeling closed around that corner alone, will make for fantastic racing!

  2. Terry Fabulous
    8th October 2009, 23:59

    I’m ready to clasp Yas Island to my chest and celebrate it. It looks mighty with some stonking corners and brutal overtaking spots.

  3. It looks like Sepang on steroids.

  4. i really like this track if im being honest will make a nice end to the season, though what will the atmosphere be like? the atmospere in brazil always provides an awsome climax to the season, anxious to see how it turns out but im hoping for a success!

    1. Brazil has the finale again next year, so if it fails in Abu Dhabi, there’s always next season =D

      1. thats reassuring, lets just hope it isnt a let down to the end of an awsome season

  5. It looks quite nice… Bernie will have some big pound signs in his eyes Lol..

  6. this track is going to be sooooo dusty off the racing line. expect no overtaking.

  7. Prisoner Monkeys
    9th October 2009, 1:07

    I like it.

    I’ve always been a fan of new circuits, and I’ve always believed hey should at least be given an opportunity to prove their worth before we all lambast them. And I honestly do think that Abu Dhabi could be a diamond in the rough.

    1. I fully agree. The layout looks like it could provide some action, especially with those 2 long straights, and the fast sweeps after turn 1, and some tight twisty bits that hopefully the cars should be able to follow each other through. Plus, whatever the racing is like, it is going to look absolutely stunning as the sun sets. The architecture in those buildings looks spectacular.

      1. Singapore looks absolutely stunning, its just the racing’s crap. We dont really need a stunning setting, its the racing everyone is here for, they better scrub that track to bits and hold support races all day.

        1. I dunno, Singapore put on a better race than Suzuka, i thought.

          1. The new Tilke tracks are fine.

            But because they are new, they have only held races in an era in which overtaking is very difficult on any track. After all, it’s not like we saw much overtaking at Silverstone, Spa, Monza or Suzuka this year!

            People wrongly infer that the boring races must be the tracks’ fault.

  8. I love what I see… maybe some overtaking is possible :)

  9. This is probably the coolest “novelty” track I have seen.
    However, this track will never, ever, compare with Spa, Monza or Suzuka. Ever.
    Monaco and Bahrain are better circuits than this one.
    It does look better and will probably race better than Singapore though!

  10. While the circuit does look impressive, I think we’ll be in for another borefest. Very often people overlook the fact that having great facilities, spectacular grandstands and posh hotels is not what constitutes an exciting race track. Every Tilke-designed track is fantastic in that respect, but most of them fail to deliver come Sunday.

    1. Seconded. It was great to see the support for Silverstone during the GP, although it was a bit late! I’m reserving my excitement about Abu Dhabi until we see some racing.

  11. It looks beautiful but I dont expect any racing.
    WHY don’y Tilke & Bernie looks at some classic track when they make a circuit.Why can’t they have something like Spa or Suzuka.

    1. If we’re honest about it, there wasn’t too much overtaking or racing at Suzuka despite it being an “awesome track” from the drivers’ point-of-view.

      I think the lack of racing is more a fault of the modern F1 car than the circuit.

      1. Exactly: the cars are the problem, not the circuit.

        I say ban wings altogether.

        1. I’ll second that Lustigson.

      2. This is correct.

        Another OWG is required… one that will draw up competent and effective changes.

  12. Ugh… look at all that runoff area. There should be consequences to going off the track.

    1. depends how much you like safety cars.

    2. … or fatalities.

  13. Got any shots of the pit exit? Isnt it supposed to go under/over the track or something? :)

    1. 6th picture down on the left side is the pit exit, it’s exciting as theoretically people coming out of the pits will be going faster than those braking to make the corner (I’ve verified this in an early version of the track available for rFactor) – should make pit stops even spicier.

  14. The track does look good.

  15. Well, Donington park must have these cowboys running scared. Noone builds ’em like a British builder…


  16. It looks like it’s going to be a pretty boring track. I highly doubt anyone will go and the finale to the championship will be held in front of empty grandstands. What a shame.

    1. glass half empty type of guy huh?

  17. That pit road and whole underground exit look hella long. I’m wondering if going one-stop will be the right move here–or at least a very long first stint. The stop-go nature may also lessen the fuel weight-penalty.

    Turkey and China also have mega-straights leading to tight corners. They make for some passing, but the trade off is a boring 20 second taxi down the runway, and a long lap. It’s not like Tilke isn’t trying— Hockeheim (neue) has the same long straight into tight corner trick. But he’s got it wrong. Bascially, you need high speed corners going into a long straight, to allow a better chassis to catch a worse one by getting and exit speed advantage; and multiple-radii and/or banked corners to allow cars to get close without having to drive in another cars aero wash.

  18. Seems okayish, I like the part where cars pass under the grandstands though if they fail to make the corner.

    But it shouldn’t be as dusty off the racing line I feel, after all, Baharain isn’t.

    And yes, people hating the new tracks, don’t be a bunch of hypocrites. If there is no overtaking at a Tilke track, you say its because of Tilke. If there is no overtaking at Suzuka or Silverstone, you say its because the cars are difficult to follow or the Overtaking Working Group has failed.

    There is only ONE solution to good racing, and that is RAIN.

    1. There is only ONE solution to good racing, and that is RAIN.

      Not too good solution for Abu Dhabi:

      Precipitation: October: 0mm
      November: 10mm

  19. It looks like a typical Tilke track but with more spirit.

  20. I am hesitant to say either way. I will make my final decision after the first race, but my first thoughts are that it will not go down as a historic track.

  21. Prisoner Monkeys
    9th October 2009, 6:32

    I think Abu Dhabi is a circuit of three distinct halves. Yes, you can have three halves in Formula One.

    The first section runs from the start line down to the hairpin. It is very much a driver’s section. The first turn is likely to be blind, owing to a wall on the inside of the circuit (which would have to be there to prevent cars or debris from going off the circuit and landing on the pit lane in the event of an accident). The there’s the second and third corners which form a “reverse Eau Rouge”; accoring to Bruno Senna who did a walk-around of the circuit with James Allen, and eighteen-metre artifical hill has been contructed (and if you look carefully, you can see it in the photos). The chicane and the hairpin wil be interesting because they will dictate speed going onto the back straight, but the wide circuit allows for higher speeds than usual and the corners are in quick succession; any mistakes will be very costly going into the second section.

    The next half of the circuit is going to be absolute hell on the engines. The complex surrounding the hairpin is going to determine speed going onto the back straight, which, armed with its usual tight corner at the end, should hopefully producemore chances for overtaking. But the important part here is that after that tight chicane, the circuit opens out into the second-fastest section, which once again ends with heavy braking. The short version is that have to accelerate and brake heavily, then accelerate and break heavily again. It’s very much like the Mulsanne at Le Mans, and I wouldn’t be too surprised if it leads to a few engine breakages.

    The third and final half runs from the bottom corner back to the start line. The corners are all fairly evenly space and consistent to make sure the drivers are paying attention, but according to Senna, the walls are crazy-close through this section. The Wall of Champions lines one corner in Montreal; imagine what it would be like for half a lap. The pit entry also looks pretty tricky, requiring the cars to get off-line and brake hard while the rest of the circuit opens out. I’m guessing teams will have to factor a part of the actual circuit into the time taken to drive down pit lane. And I’d say it’s deliberately been designed that way.

    And then there’s the little things that give Abu Dhabi a spot of character. Like the way the race will be day/night; watch for mistakes around sunset. Or the way the run-off areas actually go under the grandstands (though there isn’t a clear shot above) to bring fans closer to the racing. And the pit exit, of course: it dives under the circuit proper.

    If I’m right, this could actually be one of the circuits Tilke gets right. Despite poor crowd numbers, I think Istanbul – especially the Haymaker – is a fine example of what he can do, as is Sepang. Yas Marina could well be one of his better moments.

    1. Ever heard of thirds?

  22. It does look good but it’s following the typical Tilke recipe:

    Long straights into hairpins;
    Loads of boring but safe run off areas;
    Rubbish 90 degree bends;
    Amazing looking buildings next to the track to distract from the lack of action on it.

    This has been a great season, and Abu Dhabi is a great place, we deserve a great end to the season. No more Tilke bore-fest tracks to finish the season please!!!

  23. I’ll reserve judgement untill I see the action on it. However, it seems to me we could get a Shanghai-like track. This is the track where owners don’t give free hands to Tilke (like he had in Turkey) but instead ask one silly thing after another – build us a longest straight in F1; we want track to have shape of chinese symbol for prosperity; we would like track to pass through a hotel; make the pit exit UNDERGROUND; those lights in Shanghai are so shiny, lets make our race under artificial light too…

    @wasiF1 actually, he does – his office is in vicinity of Nurburgring which is his big inspiration. He often takes his car for a spin around Green Monster…

  24. Looks good esthetically, rememeber this was a launch event, and the sand that will cover all the pretty areas had been cleaned off.

    anyway i will reserve final judgment until i see it on race day…

  25. http://www.rfactorcentral.com/detail.cfm?ID=Abu%20Dhabi%20F1%20Circuit

    check this, if you have rfactor. i tried it, and although it’s only a beta, the line is 100%. feels a little bit like the old hockenheim, with long straights and bends, and at the end with a couple of “artificial” corners.
    before the long straight there is a very-very slow chicane-hairpin combination, which is easy not to take it perfectly (or at least for me), seems to be an ideal starting point for preparing for an overtake.

  26. I like to reserve judgement until we have had some races on the track to see how it really works, but it does look weak-at-the-knees beautiful :P
    Thanks for some truly epic track pictures!

  27. I always tend to like new tracks, because I’m so curious…
    But the new Tilkodromes used to let me down so many times…
    This one seems not bad. Ovetaking should be allowed, and some interesting corners are there.
    But! I don’t want tracks where the cars pass under a stand, or under a hotel, o tracks that represents old alphabet idioms…I want tracks there are difficult to drive, spectacular for overtaking and with gradient and fast bends. Where are they? How many are left?

  28. Grey, Grey, bit of beige, bit more beige, throw in some more grey…

    I don’t have high hopes for it being anything more than average. Lets hope I’m wrong.

  29. Since its the first race on this track, FIA might have given more time for the ABU DABHI race committee to prepare. FIA should somehow rescheduled the next year’s race in the month when it rains in ABU Dabhi. Its a desert so the amount of rain wont be much but atleast it will provide some good racing.

  30. These tracks dont tend to get me excited. Lack of soul probably.

    A friend of mine works in Abu Dhabi and says that while the track is finished there was lots of the bits around the track that are either not finished or wont be built. A number of hotels will not be built for example.
    not that I care about hotels!

  31. Look at all that concrete dust sticking to the tires… I bet there’ll be quite a few cars overshooting their pits during the race.

  32. While recent Tilke tracks have been rather, crap (Singapore/Valencia), I will at least wait till the race is over to pass judgment. Normally, after 2 races we’ll get an indication if a new track is good or not.

    1. To be fair, you dont have much freedom when doing a street circuit, can only work with whats there, cant go moving buildings out of the way or putting in new bridges

  33. Singapore is NOT a Tilke-track!
    The thing I don´t get is that despite the lack of highspeed circuits they don´t build a new one after Hockenheim sadly passed away although I guess that in deserts (Bahrain + Abu Dhabi) should be lots of space for fast corners and long straights.
    Instead they build medium downforce straight-hairpin-straight-hairpin-straight-hairpin tracks.
    I know that Tilke is inspired be the Nuerburgring-Nordschleife but sometimes it´s hard to find analogies.
    That´s for course also a fault of Bernie´s rules (lap-time, straight-length, etc.) which limit the freedom in design.

  34. It looks great, as always.

    But it will be rubbish.

    What else to expect really?

  35. I’ve driven the track in rFactor and I have to say there is a couple long sweeping straights that should be fun..
    I enjoyed the lap but we’ll see how the real cars do…
    It looks challenging… and the setting should be cool with the dusk running… cheers

  36. the track looks stunning..i don’t know whether it will produce an exciting race or not but on the simulator over a single flying lap..the track is awesome..the fast sweeping 3 apex turns are incredible..

  37. Let’s wait and see…the circuit looks pretty variable and it would measure the craft of the drivers. As if there’s overtaking or not, formula 1 lack of all those recents “defects” since I started watching the show during the 80s.
    Let’s wait and see for Yas Marina…it may be a good show to celebrate Jense WC!

  38. The track looks pretty good, and if the title race goes down to Abu Dhabi then I am sure the race will be even more exciting. Although, we can’t tell anything until we actually see the cars go round there.

  39. Will the people turn up though?

  40. The Hotel the cars pass through is really stunning. It was designed by star architects from New York called Asymptote. Great to see state of the art new and super cool architecture sit alongside all the other technological innovation that is part of F1 finally.

  41. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen as they go under the hotel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtuelD0bNC8

  42. I was working there on Friday and the place is amazing! The track is “a game of two halves”; tricky, twisty, city-circuit style section followed by a long, straight and wide chunk (max speed over 300kp) with some incredible corners. Clean and clear track surfaces; not a hint of concrete dust. It’s a visualy stunning track too, with architecture that takes your breath away, and it only gets better at night. Race control is state of the art. Lots of experience from all around the world have worked hard to make this happen. A weekend to remember coming up!

  43. This track is another cookie cutter, modern piece of you know what. They should hold all the races at Spa & Monza, nothing else even compares. Its sad to see F-1 forgoing its long and rich history, just to appease some petty two bit thug/ dictator Monarch that probably has a thousand woman harem, and made all of his money because of the oil under his feet.

  44. Hello All,
    I was there for the Formula One Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina Circuit. It was an awesome track with state of the art infracture. It is a real achievement for Abu Dhabi considering that they could put this thing together in 1.5 years from the start of construction.

    As for the racing, it was historic because many of the teams were pulling out of F1 this year and it was the first race in Abu Dhabi.

    As for the race itself, except for the start and the first corner, it was almost like a parade. Whereas all the action was at the support races which includes Porsche Cup, GP2 Asia, and Chevrolet Middle East Championships.

    Cheers !


    Photographs from the event (3 days) could be found here.


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