Driver’s Eye View
of Yas Marina
Spectacular, demanding and very special: Ex F1™driver Nico Hülkenburg, a veteran of nine Abu Dhabi Grands Prix, takes you on a lap.
The track is pretty technical and challenging, with a lot of little hooks to it.
It’s quite a long circuit as well which always makes it difficult to get the perfect lap together from start to finish and connecting all the corners in each sector. It’s certainly not an easy track.
You do really notice the change from day to night while we’re racing too. On some parts of the track at the start of the race you’ll be driving straight into the sun. We have darker visor strips on our helmets at the beginning of the race, and then clear ones when it goes dark.
My favourite part of the track is the bit where we drive under the hotel. It’s a very technical part of the circuit, and it’s really challenging with how cars run over the kerbs. But while you’re concentrating on getting all that right it’s also a very beautiful section.
Abu Dhabi is a great place, and because it’s the last race of the season it’s always very popular. And being a twilight race makes it even more special.
The start, going up towards Turn 1 can be nervy. You have to be careful. I’ve had shunts there – it can easily happen. You just have to stay safe. Getting through the first corner is a key part of getting through that first lap ok.
The grip is normally ok here at Yas Marina. Getting tyres up to temperature is one of the most important things in Formula 1, but obviously that happens as we go through the lap. Turns 2 and 3 are very high speed and really demanding on the tyres, so usually we have to look after the tyres a little bit through that section, just to make sure they last.
The best word to describe turns 5, 6 and 7, is fiddly. The exit coming out of 6 is very important, because you’ve got that giant straight coming up ahead and that’s really the crunch point of the lap.
Obviously you’re always busy when you’re racing, but in a way, you can sometimes relax on the straight. Of course, you’re keeping your eyes ahead and your hands on the wheel, but when you’re on a long straight you can almost have a little chill!
It can be hard to get the braking right going into turn 8, because it’s a pretty tight left-right hander. It’s really easy to lock up your front tyres here. If you do that it compromises the exit of the corner, which means that you won’t get the right line going into the long straight that comes right after it. The second part of the left-right hander is also over a crest, and usually the rear-end of the car tends to go light there, so it’s another key part of the lap that’s not easy.
It’s hard to overtake at Yas Marina, but this second straight is another opportunity to do it because we have DRS there, meaning you can get a big tow from the car in front. But you must be careful, because if you overtake too early on the straight then that car could re-overtake you before the next corner. You need to think strategically and be smart.
This last section of the lap is another very technical part of the track, but usually the levels of grip are good here, because there is quite a lot of track evolution. This is a really spectacular part of the circuit through the hotel at night when everything is lit up. But again, because it’s a technical part of the lap it’s critical to get it right so you can have a strong finish.
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