Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Yas Marina Circuit

Yas Marina Circuit
Yas Marina Circuit (Pi3.124 / Wikipedia.org)

There is very little in Abu Dhabi that is done to the max and the Yas Marina Circuit is no different. The circuit has played host to the final Grand Prix of the season since 2009 and in that time has proved to be a huge hit for both drivers and fans alike. 

The circuit, based out of Yas Island, is one that is run under lights, even further adding to the dramatic effect of the racetrack. Given that Abu Dhabi actually averages 0mm of rain throughout the month of November when the race is hosted, it means you can put your mortgage on a dry race. It’s also the first month where temperatures start to become a little more terrible after the scorching summer months. However, temperatures still commonly get up to around 30 degrees plus, which takes huge toll on the drivers and the cars. 


Swap Start/End

Circuit Info

Location Length Corners Capacity Year Opened
Abu Dhabi 5.554km 21 60,000 2009

Circuit Layout

F1 Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates Track Map

The track is one of the most stunning visually, but it still provides a stern test for drivers as well. The initial plans for the circuit were set out in 2007 before the track was finally completed in 2009 at a cost of some £800million, making it the most expensive track in the world.

But, it’s not just a racetrack that they have managed to create, more a small town with the inclusion of hotels, shopping centres and even a theme park all interlocking the amazing venue. The fact it runs throughout the harbour also means that the rich and famous are able to get their toys out in the form of multi-million (billion in some cases) yachts, which offer great vantage points of the track. 

Whilst the site is essentially on a desert, the designers of the track, Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture were keen to keep the sweeping dunes as a feature, creating a fairly unique base for the track. As it was the second track built in the middle east, behind that of Bahrain, they were able to take advice from this construction, mainly due to the fact that sand blowing on the track would be an issue. To overcome this, they pour a type of resin over the sand that is closest to the track to stop it spreading in the world.

As part of the theatre of the track, the design also includes a lighting system that is one of the most technologically advanced in the world. As a result, it’s the largest permanent sports lighting venue in the world. 

The track itself is extremely technical and offers several layouts across the 5.554km circuit (the short circuit measures just 4.70km, but this isn’t used for F1). The run in to Turn 1 is fairly short but it does offer a good passing point for cars that have been unable to take the racing line from the starting grid. 

Sweeping left then right handers then great the driver through the middle section, with an inclusion of a tight chicane for turns 5 and 6, before the hairpin at turn 7. The back straight is the longest on track and cars here are able to reach up to 200mph with DRS enabled. 

Intricate turns at 8 and 9 leads into a fast sweeping left hander for turn 10 before another series of ‘S’ bends great the drivers. The final part of the track is very slow and intricate, offering little chance to pass on the circuit. The run off areas here are slim, which means that even the smallest mistake can result in the car hitting the wall and ending a race. 

Recent Winners

YearDriverCarFastest Lap
2017 Valterri Bottas Mercedes 1.40.650
2016 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.45.137
2015 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1.45.356
2014 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1.45.599
2013 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1.43.893

Other Races at the Yas Marina Circuit

Yas Marina Circuit
Yas Marina Circuit (miles around / Bigstockphoto.com)

The owners of the track have been keen to offer a wide range of motor racing at the track over the last decade or so and the numbers continue to rise.

So far, we have seen the likes of the GP2 Asia Series, V8 Supercars, Drag Racing, GT1 World, Gulf 12 Hours and the World Triathlon Series. The flexibility of the track and the opportunity to change it up so drastically caters for a huge range of racing, which is why it’s popularity is only going to grow. 


Yas Marina 2014
Yas Marina 2014 (miles around / Bigstockphoto.com)

The history of the track is pretty small compared to most, but in true Arabian fashion, they’ve been able to make a huge splash in the world of F1. The money that’s been spent on the complex already is staggering, but the announcement in 2017 that they had brought in legendary track designer, Hermann, Tilke to tweak aspects of the track and promote overtaking is going to be another step to creating one of the best tracks in the F1 Calendar. 

Driver Opinions

Many of the drivers have already expressed how impressed they are with Yas Maria as a basic track, disregarding the show that goes with the race weekend. Many state that it’s better than the other night race at Singapore and it offers a much stiffer test with the severity of the corners and the lack of run off. 

Famous Winners

Whilst the race has mostly been the last race of the season, the opening meeting in 2009 was a bit of a dead rubber coming into Abu Dhabi. But, the organisers had got their wish in 2010 when the title race was wide open between that of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel. A victory by Vettel was enough to clinch the World Championship, repeating his performance from the previous season.