Yas Marina: What You Need to Know

So here we are; the last race of the 2010 season! I know we haven’t been together for long; but I already feel we know each other well. Okay; that’s a bit too saccharine for my liking, but it’s good practice for next year. So; for the first time in F1 history we have four (mathematical) contenders; and three actual contenders. For Hamilton to win there will have to be an almighty shocker of a race; I mean cataclysmic catastrophe on a monumental scale, Alonso, Vettel and Webber would have to crash out. Now before I get ahead of myself; this could technically happen, but it’s seriously unlikely.

So we go to the glamour of Abu Dhabi with three real contenders; Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. Two vying for their maiden title win; the Red Bull boys are going into this race bolstered by the Constructors win from Brazil. Alonso, having two world titles to his name, is going for the hat trick, with the perfect amount of experience. There is no denying that this looks good for him; it looks very good. And believe me when I say this; I don’t favour team orders, but if Alonso were to win the media wouldn’t be congratulating him. It’s going to be about those 7 points from Germany; if he wants a clean win he better hope he’s ahead by more than his gain from Massa.

Fact File: Abu Dhabi – Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island

Laps: 55
Circuit length: 5.554km (3.451miles)
Race length: 305.470 km (189.810miles)
Fastest lap: Sebastian Vettel – 1:40.279 (2009)

The Yas Marina circuit is fairly new to the racing season; it was used for the first time last year (November 1st, 2009) and was won by Sebastian Vettel. Design by the master, Hermann Tilke, and is situated on Yas Island about 30 minutes from the UAE capital. It’s the second Middle East track this year, and with Bahrain they bookend the season well (although some might disagree about Bahrain).

The Yas Marina Circuit (Arz)

Key: 1-21: Corners/turns

Layout:

The intention of this design was to be the ‘Monaco of the Middle East’, and it’s a fair comparison on and off the track. It’s plain to see from the twitter accounts of the drivers; that life off the track (for them at least) is all about 5* hotels and infinity pools. And if we can tear ourselves away from the luxury for a moment; the track isn’t half bad either, in a salute to Monaco…the pitlane exits underneath a hotel.

Busy, busy, busy!

It contains the second longest straight, after Korea, and provides ample opportunity for the faster cars to get ahead. But it’s pretty obvious that cornering ability is needed here too; drivers last year were commenting on the challenge it provides, saying ‘there was always something to do’. You can’t be caught napping on this track.

Overtaking:

This track is particularly good for overtaking; and the driver has potential to do this at several points.  There are 5 high-speed straights, the first being the start/finish (or ‘pit straight’); all straights are good for getting past back markers (lapped) or slow cars. Turn 6 is the first slow speed corners you get to; be smart on the brakes and you’ll be in the longest straight with time to spare, time to put the hammer down. Now you’re onto turn 8 (the chicane) and be brave and you’ve overtaken again. Follow the next straight (technically a curve) round and you’re onto the third overtaking spot, turn 11.

With a good mixture of 5 high-speed straights, 5 slow corners and 3 overtaking spots, it’s level pegging for all types of cars. It’s just the ever-so simple manner of getting the timing right early on…yeah, just that simple.

Why Abu Dhabi Rocks:

Even with a surprisingly small grandstand capacity for a brand new track (50,000), Abu Dhabi has certainly made its mark of the F1 calender. It’s all about scale.  There is room for massive yachts, an indoor theme park and the worlds fastest rollercoaster. Then throw in some of the fastest cars and you’ve got yourself a spectacle.

And by shifting the start time back by 2 hours we’ve got a race where the light disappears before us. Officially it means it’s a twilight race; and by gum if you mention vampires and werewolves in a non-ironic manner…I’ll personally escort you off the track myself! They keep the street lights on from the beginning to help the drivers out when the light starts to fade…

All in all I believe it’s a fitting end to the season (next year that honour will be passed on to Brazil); it’s glamourous, exciting and full of surprises. And by the looks of this season…it’s definitely going to live up to that.

5 key points:

  • Hot climate
  • Anti-clockwise
  • 5 high-speed straights/5 slow corners
  • 3 overtaking spots
  • Twilight race (no vampires!)

Late rookies!

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