Yas Marina Circuit: Home of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix:
The 3.4-miles Yas Marina circuit located on Yas Island has a complex system of artificial lighting that is turned on as the sun sets and has vertical, controllable beams to reduce glare for the drivers.
But this is far from its only innovation. It also has a unique pit-lane exit in the form of a tunnel, in which the cars drive without a speed limit, while at the end of the back straight is a run-off area that goes underneath a grandstand.
“It has long straights, which should allow overtaking,” said Nick Heidfeld, a driver at the Sauber team. “At the same time, you have some nice winding sections and the tunnel at the pit-lane exit is something special.”
The track at this venue designed to be the Monaco of the Middle East also runs under a hotel bridge, and the hotel roof has a changing array of colored lights.
The circuit has 21 turns — 12 left, 9 right — three chicanes, six 90-degree corners and the hairpin leading to the back straight. It is one of five of the 19 current Formula One circuits that run counter-clockwise.
James Key, the technical director of the Sauber team, said his team tries “to optimize the set-up down the straights, in the slow-speed last section and then the chicanes.”
“It’s a compromise between straight-line speed and braking stability,” he added.
The lead into the hairpin in a stadium area has several elevation changes, which make it an interesting part of the track for drivers and spectators alike.
Another feature of the track is that because of the switch from day to night the temperature drops and therefore makes it more difficult for teams and drivers to manage their tires throughout the 55 laps of the race.
“In the heat of the sun it reached over 50 degrees Celsius, but after the sun set in the race the temperature dropped by 7 degrees, meaning it is important to monitor the tire temperatures as this occurs,” said Hirohide Hamashima, director of tire development at Bridgestone, referring to the race last year.
The track surface — and therefore tire condition and grip — is also affected by that other standard of the Middle Eastern circuits: desert sand.