The Abu Dhabi F1 track layout has been on the Formula 1 calendar since 2009, and underwent some major changes in 2021.
This guide takes an in-depth look at the Yas Marina circuit, lists some facts and figures about the track and the changes that have been made to it.
Building the Yas Marina circuit
Construction first began on the original Abu Dhabi Formula 1 track in 2008 and it was completed and used for the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009.
The circuit is built on Yas Island, a 25 square kilometre man-made island that holds a number of tourist destinations and is about 40km away from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
The track was named the Yas Marina circuit because of it’s location right next to the marina on Yas Island.
How much did the Abu Dhabi F1 track cost to build?
Reports estimate the total cost of building the Abu Dhabi F1 track as $1.322 billion.
That makes it the most expensive Formula 1 track in the history of the sport.
Original Abu Dhabi F1 track (2009 - 2020)
The original Abu Dhabi F1 track layout was first used for Formula 1 in 2009, and was used in the same form all the way up to and including the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
That original layout had the following specifications:
- 21 corners
- Full circuit length 5.55km / 3.45 miles
Updated Abu Dhabi F1 track (2021 - Present)
In the summer of 2021 the Yas Marina circuit announced they were going to make some changes to the circuit in time for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the end of the year.
As it transpired, the new layout would be the venue for the now-infamous and controversial title showdown between Hamilton and Verstappen.
The new Abu Dhabi Grand Prix layout comprised of the following:
- 16 corners
- Full circuit length 5.28km / 3.38 miles
The new shorter revised Abu Dhabi circuit layout, with faster corners, reduced lap times by around 13 seconds.
Changes to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix track
The changes made in 2021 to the Abu Dhabi F1 track layout were focused on three areas: the North Hairpin, Marsa corner and the W Hotel section
The North Hairpin was previously known as Turn 7 on the Yas Marina circuit.
The redesigned circuit involved some substantial changes to this section of the track. The tight and slow chicane of turns 5 and 6 was removed and the hairpin was re-profiled to make it much wider and faster.
The image below shows the old circuit in pink and the new circuit in black.
The aim of removing the chicane and widening the hairpin was to give cars a faster run on to the long straight that follows the new Turn 5 to promote more overtaking.
Marsa Corner is the name given to the new long, wide sweeping hairpin at Turn 9 which replaces the old turns 11, 12, 13 and 14.
Those slower, tight chicane-like corners bunched the cars up a lot. The new Marsa Corner is much much faster, taken at 240kph / 150mph, and is more exciting for both the drivers and fans.
W Hotel Section
This section of the track comprises the old turns 17, 18, 19 and 20.
Whilst the shape of the circuit has remained the same the inside of the four corners was opened up to make them faster and more flowing and to prevent so much bunching of the cars.
The official press release from the Yas Marina Circuit on these changes stated that “Opening up the corners should reduce tyre slide to keep drivers on the track.”
Ironically, it was at the newly widened Turn 19 where Nicolas Latifi crashed at the 2021 Abu Dhabi, bringing out the safety car which changed the entire complexion of the race and the 2021 F1 World Championship.
There are 2 DRS Zones on the Yas Marina Circuit layout. I’ve written a separate article on the Abu Dhabi DRS zones which has the info.
The longest straight on the Abu Dhabi F1 circuit is 1.15 km / 0.71 miles. This is the straight after the Turn 5 hairpin and before the Turn 6 / 7 chicane.
F1 cars can reach over 330kph / 205mph at the end of this straight as it’s one of the DRS zones.
The Abu Dhabi F1 track layout has the most unique pit lane in the whole sport.
The pit exit features a tunnel which crosses under the first turn of the circuit before rejoining the track on the outside of Turn 3.
If the pit exit had followed around the outside of Turn 1, it would have had to be routed a long way outside of the corner to allow the existing Turn 1 run-off area and safety barriers to remain in place.
The pit lane speed limit at the Abu Dhabi GP track is 80kph / 50mph. Interesting the pit lane speed limit ends before the F1 cars enter the tunnel.
The total length of the Abu Dhabi F1 pitlane is 1.07km / 0.66miles. That’s one of the longest pitlanes in Formula 1, but not as long as the pitlane at Interlagos circuit in Brazil.