The Yas Marina Circuit is the venue for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke, and is situated on Yas Island, about 30 minutes from the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi. Yas Marina is the second Formula One track in the Middle East, with the first being in Bahrain.
A two-day GP2 Asia Series test was held to officially open the circuit, which was held a week before the 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. It also hosted the opening event for the Australian V8 Supercars series, the Yas V8 400, in February 2010. Outside motorsport the circuit was used for the final stage of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Tour cycle race in 2015. The circuit has FIA Grade 1 license.
In 2006, plans were announced to develop Yas Island, located just to the east of Abu Dhabi, into a new tourist destination, with a major part of the plans centring around a 5.5km race track. The diggers rolled into what would become the Yas Marina Circuit in May 2007, with the project completed by October 2009.
In 2009. The track debuted as that year’s Formula 1 season finale, with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel winning from team mate Mark Webber and the already-crowned 2009 champion Jenson Button. Vettel would go on to secure his first title in Abu Dhabi a year later, amid much crying.
The Hermann Tilke-designed track is dominated by its 1.2km straight between Turns 5 and 6 – which, with slow-speed corners marking its beginning and end, makes it a honeypot for overtaking moves. Other highlights include the tricky run through Turns 10 and 11 into 12, which forces the drivers to brake hard with bags of lateral load still on the car. Track modifications ahead of the 2021 race, shortening the lap slightly to 5.28km, have only added to its excitement.
Yas Island was a blank canvas for developers to turn into a tourist attraction, and 11 years and $40 billion later, they’ve nearly finished doing just that. Seven hotels, Ferrari’s indoor theme park, a mall, a water park, a golf course, a beach, a concert arena and a nightclub, all framed by perfect Emirati weather. What more could you want?
Assuming you can’t get a room with a trackside view in the spectacular whale-shaped Yas Hotel – or a berth in a boat’s cabin in the marina – opt for a spot in the West Grandstand, a great place to watch all the overtaking action into Turn 6. Or if you’re more there for the atmos, stick yourself in the Main Grandstand overlooking the start-finish straight and enjoy Abu Dhabi’s famed pyrotechnics. It might be worth trying to get a seat high up in whatever grandstand you choose, though, if you’re looking to keep out of the sun.