One up on Jenson

Abu DhabiOK, so Jenson’s the F1 world champion and he’s The Man right now, but I’ve got one over him: I’ve driven Yas Marina circuit and he hasn’t. So there. Yeah.

I was lucky enough to be invited to the circuit to have a look round and take a Nissan GT-R on a lap or two. And I have to say, it looks like a phenomenal place for a race. If this is the future of F1, I’m all for it.

Yas Marina circuit is one tiny part of the Yas Island development. Yas is a big island near Abu Dhabi which is costing about 36 billion bucks to create as a whole, and includes hotels, golf courses, theme parks, high-end housing and lots of other cool stuff. A great deal of that will be finished in time for the 2010 race, but this year, they’ve had their work cut out just to finish the track.

And what a track it is. Its main feature is the Monaco-style marina next to the giant Yas Hotel, which has 5,800 individually-programmable LED screens for a roof. The pitlane passes underneath the first turn, through a tunnel, there’s a run-off area under a grandstand, and the track actually passes through the hotel, too. Stunning.

It’s an interesting lap, and hopefully it’ll throw up one or two good overtaking opportunities around its long 5.5 km.  The straight is the longest in F1 at over a kilometre, and it’s bookended by two slow corners, which means it should be a terrific braking zone and overtaking area at the end of it. And the rest of the circuit is quite a challenge, with a lot of off-camber corners and some technical combinations.

I was struggling to remember it from corner to corner, but Jenson will learn it in about two laps. Guess that’s why he’s world champion and I’m, er, not.

The race starts at sunset and runs into the night, the first time that’s ever happened in F1. If you can’t get to it this year, make sure you book your 2010 tickets early. I know I will…

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Well it sure sounds to be the best of the new circuits, that other desert race in Bahrain sure is boring……. Still I hope it is good, next fortnight will tell.

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You can never tell before the F1 cars run on it, Bobs. Look at Turkey – a phenomenal track, another Tilke design, plenty of overtaking. Same with Malaysia and the new Hockenheim, both good for racing. But the ingredients are there, especially that long straight…

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Some bits that bug me are corners such as the one pictured. What could’ve been a braking zone – or, if Button’s shows at turn 1 of Brazil is any guide, diving zones – is instead a more fiddly chicane, where you’ll overtake, then get overtaken back when the road twists right.

At least it’s wide (well, it looks it), unlike places like Suzuka where it looks good for passing on a map, but is too narrow to see much real action. But isn’t it becoming cliche to include a marina/harbour in tracks these days? None will beat Monaco no matter how much it costs. Besides, the Yacht Park just won’t be the same without Flav’s party boat.

I’m eagerly anticipating this race. Just as long as they don’t have to drive over 1km with the setting sun in their eyes…

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I’m definitely going to be watching this race. I saw the full map in October’s issue, and if you ever find another F1 circuit built before this one that has A. a pitlane under the track, B. a straight where today’s F1 cars have to go from 200mph to about 50 in 100 meters at the end, and C. a luxury hotel like THAT one over the track, i will pay 72 billion buck so they can use the 36 left over to build a better one.

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I’m definitely going to be watching this race. I saw the full map in October’s issue, and if you ever find another F1 circuit built before this one that has A. a pitlane under the track, B. a straight where today’s F1 cars have to go from 200mph to about 50 in 100 meters at the end, and C. a luxury hotel like THAT one over the track, i will pay 72 billion bucks so they can use the 36 left over to build a better one.

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computer glitched so it did the comment twice :(

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If I lived in Dubai I’d get a white [cooler than black in the desert] Swizter 800 GTR. Would love to be in the Switzer putting to shame all the hypercars that are measured in costs of $500,000+.

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looks like an incredible track, but it goes through the hotel?! at night?! that must suck for the guests there haha

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I saw some prologue footage somewhere, it looked nice. But I really miss things like hills and stuff, in modern circuits. It’s all so flat…

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“If this is the future of F1, I’m all for it.”

You’re going to look a plumb if there’s no overtaking and the race is decided by botched pit stops and belated penalties.

Using long straights to create overtakes is getting boring. We’ve got that already at other tracks. It means there’s one or two spots on the circuit for overtaking and everyone uses the same manoeuvres, yawn.

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@ Tak: There’s hills in this one. It’s not used for F1, but there’s a Corkscrew-like corner in there. And some of the turns are off-camber as well.

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thats sick!iwish i was invited.

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didu know that the pit lane at the yas marina circiut is underground so u have to be carful when your leaving the pit lane so u dont cross the white line!

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I’m a bit punch drunk and countersunk with these new circuits talk about boring. Give me some sweeping corners, banking and breaking zones with no run off. These new circuits built in car parks are going the way of the yanks ones and we don’t need that kind of circuit nor drivers who would race them.

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Abu Dhabi itself is amazing and will be a billion times better, and classier, than Dubai in 5-10 years.

The tickets to the race are quite expensive though. you have to pay over 300Euros for the Sat/Sun session. I luckily managed to score the Thu/Fri session tickets (includes the Beyonce + Jamorqui concerts) for 60 Euros on Ebay :) Woohooo, esp since on Thu ticket holders can walk through the pit lane and see the teams working on the cars and stuff.

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ramin. you luckylucky person

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