abu dhabi grand prix friday 2021

Driver feedback on Yas Marina Circuit layout changes

abu dhabi grand prix friday 2021

While the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has been held since 2009, this year the Yas Marina Circuit has been tweaked ahead of this year’s Formula 1 World Title showdown between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

Long before anyone could have dreamt up such a scenario, the contenders arriving for the final race of the season tied on points, Yas Marina owners decided the track needed to be revitalized, made racier. What they came up with is a much faster and flowing circuit, with times a dozen or so seconds per lap faster than before.

While most drivers hailed the changes as improvements, several are not so sure it will make for closer racing which was the prime purpose for modifying the track in the first place. The race on Sunday will be telling.

Here is what drivers had to say after the first day of practice at the new-look Yas Marina Circuit:

Lewis Hamilton: “I like the changes they’ve made to the track; it’s made it free-flowing and more enjoyable.”

Max Verstappen: “I like the new track layout, it’s more fun to drive with the faster corners, especially in the last sector.”

Sergio Perez: “I don’t know how much the track has improved since last year. It’s still nice to drive but there are question marks for me on whether it has improved the racing.”

Valtteri Bottas: “The track feels better than before with more flow and some increased overtaking opportunities.”

Fernando Alonso: “I liked the track changes out there.”

Daniel Ricciardo: “A new layout and some new corners to learn, which I enjoyed.”

Lando Norris: “It’s also nice to drive the new circuit, there are quite a few differences – both in the layout but also how the tyres behave as well. It’s something else to get used to.”

Charles Leclerc: “I quite like the new layout and it was fun to drive. The modifications seem to make it easier to follow the cars ahead, so it appears to be a positive track update.”

Sebastian Vettel: “The new circuit layout is faster and more exciting to drive. I think some of the weaker turns have been replaced with stronger corners – the highlight being the new banked Turn 9.”

Lance Stroll: “It was good to experience the new Yas Marina Circuit layout. It is definitely faster and has more flow to it, which makes it cool and fun to drive.”

Kimi Raikkonen: “It was interesting to try the track after the modifications. Making changes is good and I can see why they were done, but I am not sure whether overtaking will be any easier.”

Antonio Giovinazzi: “The new track layout is quite cool, it’s more fun to drive as they replaced slow chicanes, which weren’t much fun in these cars, with some fast corners. I am not sure if this will help much with overtaking, but it’s a lot faster.”

Pierre Gasly: “The layout is really different, it feels like a new track with a lot more high-speed corners, so it’s really cool.”

Yuki Tsunoda: “I’m really enjoying the new layout of this circuit.”

George Russell: “It was interesting trying out the circuit changes and I have to say I liked them. The track is now faster and flowing and therefore nicer to drive.”

Nicholas Latifi: “The track is definitely better and fun to drive and has a nicer flow to it. I believe that it will help with the racing too.”

Mick Schumacher: “The track is a bit different to before but in general it hasn’t changed much. It has the same philosophy in terms of approach to some of the corners although obviously the corner itself is very different.”

Nikita Mazepin: “I loved Abu Dhabi the way it was, it had 21 corners from what I believe, and now it has 16 so it’s a slightly shorter track that I love but nevertheless I think it’s a good one.”

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