This year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will take place on a new track layout after the Yas Marina Circuit revealed a number of changes it will make to try and improve racing at the venue.
Abu Dhabi has been the scene of the season finale in Formula 1 since 2014, while it also hosted the final round on its first two appearances on the calendar in 2009 and 2010. While a spectacular venue, it has rarely produced many good racing opportunities and so the track layout will be changed to try and address the issue.
The most significant changes are at the hairpin that was previously Turn 7, removing the chicane that preceded it and widening the corner to provide an overtaking opportunity. Then the tight sequence of corners at the end of the second DRS zone — the left-right-left of what was Turn 11-12-13 and the following left-hander at Turn 14 — will be replaced by one long, sweeping, banked corner.
👀 @ymcofficial is set to undergo its first major restructuring since it first opened in 2009
— Formula 1 (@F1) June 24, 2021
The hotel section also has been modified with a number of corners being adapted to have a wider radius. The intention is for Turn 17 — the first right-hander of the hotel section — to become an overtaking opportunity, and for the penultimate corner of the lap at Turn 20 to become flat-out and keep cars close.
F1’s managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn says the changes are welcomed by the sport, given they have the intention of improving the on-track product.
“As host of the Formula 1 season finale since 2009, Yas Marina Circuit has established itself as one of the most popular venues for motorsport fans around the world to attend,” Brawn said. “We are fully supportive of the decision to make improvements to the track — with the aim of enhancing the overall motorsport experience across the board, including the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix — for both competitors and spectators.
“Given its position as the final race in the Formula 1 season, it is always a special date on the calendar, and with this year’s event set to be the first on the new-look track and the last race before we enter the new era of F1 in 2022, there is added incentive to look forward to the spectacle.”
Fernando Alonso was enthusiastic about the changes, saying he expects the new layout to improve racing and provide more overtaking opportunities.
“I saw the plan and I think it’s good,” Alonso said. “At least they are trying and they are making sure that we are in a position to have a better show. So I am happy with the idea — I think it’s going to be better and at least it’s going to be different for all of us.
“That’s the first thing, that joy when you go into a free practice and you have a new layout there are always some things that you try, which is good. And the second thing is it should be better for overtaking, so why not?”