Yas Marina Circuit: The Ultimate Track Guide

Yas Marina Circuit: The Ultimate Track Guide

The now traditional venue for F1’s season finale, the sleek and futuristic Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi holds a Grand Prix which starts at dusk and ends under floodlights.

TRACK LENGTH 3.451 miles
MOST POLES Lewis Hamilton (4)
MOST WINS Lewis Hamilton (4)



The Yas Island is a man-made island located to the east of Abu Dhabi’s main island. Work on the Yas Island began in 2006 at a cost of $40 billion. The Yas Island is a leisure complex, which houses a golf course, shopping centres, hotels, a Ferrari-themed theme park and, of course, the Yas Marina Circuit.

After a circuit had been built in Dubai and had unsuccessfully bid to host a Formula One race, Abu Dhabi – the lead emirate in the United Arab Emirates – put plans together for their own circuit. The deal was formally announced in early 2007 at a special ‘Formula One Festival’ held in Abu Dhabi.

Building of the circuit began in May 2007. As was the case when the Bahrain International Circuit was built, the track surface was shipped from Shropshire, England, as the aggregate offers the best grip available to F1 cars. In June 2008, Abu Dhabi’s place as the season-closing event was confirmed when the FIA revealed the calendar for the 2009 F1 season. The oil-rich country wanted a Grand Prix event to boost its identity, and hosting the season closing event has certainly helped that.

Herman Tilke designed the track, which features a mammoth 21 turns. The track has some distinguishing features, including a pit exit which runs underneath the track. Between turns eighteen and nineteen, the track runs underneath the magnificent Yas Viceroy hotel. The track was opened in October 2009 and the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was held just a month later, as it became the second location in the Middle East to hold a Formula One event. It was also the first race which started in the daytime and ended under floodlights.

The circuit received a mixed reception following the first running there, with Kimi Raikkonen summing up the general reaction by saying: “the first few turns are quite good, but the rest of it is shit”. The track is often criticised for its lack of overtaking opportunities. At the end of the 2017, designer Tilke said that he was looking at ways to create more overtaking at the track.

The Yas Marina Circuit currently holds a multi-year contract to host the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which was signed in 2014. It is unknown when the contract ends.

🇦🇪 2018 RACE RECAP

The 2018 Formula 1 season came to a close as Lewis Hamilton sealed an 11th win of the season and Fernando Alonso celebrated the final race of his F1 career.

Lewis Hamilton took pole for the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi as Valtteri Bottas ensured Mercedes locked out the front-row. Hamilton kept his lead at the start, but there was carnage further back as Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg collided, sending the latter into a barrel roll. Hulkenberg emerged unscathed from the accident, which was deemed to be a racing incident. After their antics in Brazil, Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon got close to one another on track once again, this time with the Red Bull emerging unscathed. Kimi Raikkonen came to a halt on the pit straight and was forced to retire from his final race for Ferrari, prompting a Virtual Safety Car period. Hamilton pitted while the VSC was called and emerged in fifth. He was just nine seconds off the lead despite stopping. The rest of the leading drivers pitted; though Daniel Ricciardo stayed out. Further back, Stoffel Vandoorne pulled off an impressive double overtake on Ocon and Grosjean. Ricciardo finally pitted with 21 laps remaining, rejoining the order in fifth. Sebastian Vettel made his way past Bottas for second place and Verstappen soon followed suit for the final podium position. Ricciardo also passed the Mercedes. Marcus Ericsson, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly all retired from the race on their final appearances for their respective teams. Hamilton took the win, with Vettel and Verstappen the other podium finishers. After the race, Hamilton and Vettel joined the departing Fernando Alonso for donuts on the main straight as the chequered flag fell on the Spaniard’s career and the 2018 season.



The Yas Marina Circuit is the largest permanent sports venue lighting project in the world.


  • The Yas Marina circuits has an unusual start to the circuit. The tight left-hand turn – a result of the track being anti-clockwise – is one of few such openings to a lap on the F1 calendar.
  • Etihad Airways have sponsored the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since its inception.
  • The floodlights are turned on from the start of the Grand Prix, ensuring a seamless transition to night racing as the sun goes down.
  • The track has a capacity for up to 60,000 fans.
  • Bruno Senna was the first driver to complete a test lap of the circuit.
  • The track itself cost $1.3 billion to build.


While the races can be processional here, the Yas Marina Circuit and the surrounding marina area offers a colourful curtain-closer to the F1 season.


YearPolesitterTeam On PoleWinnerWinning Team
2009Lewis HamiltonMcLarenSebastian VettelRed Bull
2010Sebastian VettelRed BullSebastian VettelRed Bull
2011Sebastian VettelRed BullLewis HamiltonMcLaren
2012Lewis HamiltonMcLarenKimi RäikkönenLotus
2013Mark WebberRed BullSebastian VettelRed Bull
2014Nico RosbergMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2015Nico RosbergMercedesNico RosbergMercedes
2016Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2017Valtteri BottasMercedesValtteri BottasMercedes
2018Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes