Abu Dhabi: As the chequered flag waves in Jeddah, putting Lewis Hamilton on level pegging with Max Verstappen in their all-out battle, the attention of the world’s motorsport fans and media turns to Yas Marina Circuit for what promises to be a nail-biting climax to the 2021 Formula 1 season in Abu Dhabi.
For the first time in 13 years, drivers and teams will be facing unknown elements at Yas Marina Circuit, with the new track layout – shortened by 273 metres to 5.28km – offering new challenges to even the most experienced F1 veterans.
Following an extensive reconfiguration programme during the summer across three key corners in North Hairpin, Marsa Corner and around the W Hotel section, the shorter, faster lap will allow cars to run closer together, and, by default, will give the drivers more opportunity to overtake in certain areas.
Pre-race simulations by a number of teams have shown that lap times may drop by as much as 13 seconds in total – a significant decrease that will be sure to throw up a few surprises as teams adjust to new lap times of around 1 minute and 23 seconds.
Teams will be working hard to harvest as much data as possible during the three practice sessions, ahead of Saturday’s qualifying, as they approach at more than 300kmh for the first time the revised, sweeping corner at North hairpin, and race wheel-to-wheel through the super elevated Marsa Corner.
The new hotel section, with reduced ‘Constantine effect’ that previously saw drivers bunch up, has new corners that should reduce tyre slide to keep drivers on the track, helping to maintain a more tightly packed field. While overtaking is unlikely through this section, by staying closer to one another, the revised layout tees up overtaking opportunities elsewhere around the lap.
As Sunday approaches, what is certain that Yas Marina Circuit’s revised layout will provide even more action than ever in what will be the most exciting finale in recent years.