Monaco in the Persian Gulf
When the plans for the Yas Marina Circuit were presented, the intention was to create a kind of Monaco feeling. Where the cars would drive along the harbour and through a hypermodern city. There was only one problem, that city did not yet exist.
As you know, in the Emirates people don't let that kind of detail stop them, so the construction of the complex was started before 2009. When it was finished, it didn't immediately remind us of a city, but there was a marina and the hotel with its luminous roof is an eye-catcher every year.
Hermann Tilke may want to modify the design
In the meantime, a lot has been built around the 5.554-kilometre-long circuit. The immense Ferrari World opened its doors in 2010 and one of the largest shopping malls in the world is already connected to it. The circuit itself has remained unchanged, although designer Hermann Tilke thinks to modify it.
His design hasn't entirely succeeded when it comes to overtaking possibilities. With a double DRS zone on the two consecutive straights, the FIA and Formula 1 have already tried to increase the number of overtaking actions on the track. This has been achieved, but on the rest of the circuit, which had to partly mimic a street circuit, overtaking is virtually impossible.
Changes in 2021
In 2021, there was a lot of tinkering with the original 5.554-kilometre track. The track was not providing the desired spectacle and therefore needed a new design. In total, the track was shortened by almost two hundred metres and many slow corners were changed to high-speed ones.
The change means there is better overtaking and the circuit is now a lot smoother. Even before the 2021 season finale, the revamped Yas Marina Circuit was ready and the desired spectacle was delivered immediately.
Title race at sunset
With the exception of the years 2011 to 2013, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina has been the end of the season. As the race starts at nightfall, the F1 season ends with the sun slowly disappearing behind the horizon.
Only three times has the title been won in the last race of the season at Yas Marina. The first time was in 2010 when as many as four drivers had a chance to win the title and Sebastian Vettel eventually became the youngest world champion ever.
The second title battle took place in 2016, between teammates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. Lewis Hamilton was defeated at the time, but he is the most successful driver on the Yas Marina Circuit. The Brit won five times in total, once with McLaren and four times with Mercedes. Though it has become a horror track for Hamilton.
In 2021, Hamilton and Verstappen arrived on the exact same number of points. It became the most anticipated Grand Prix of all time. Verstappen qualified on pole, but it was the Brit who led after the first lap. From there, it looked like Hamilton was comfortably in control of the race and therefore had a hand on the trophy. But a late safety car changed everything. Michael Masi called the safety car in with one lap remaining and therefore gave the fans a one-lap shootout to determine the World Champion for 2021. On fresher tyres, Verstappen made the overtake to win his first World Championship. Verstappen returned to the circuit in 2022 as a two-time Champion.