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Coulthard: Yas Marina part modern, part street circuit 23 Oct 2009

On track at the Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, October 2009. © Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management On track at the Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, October 2009. © Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management

David Coulthard, former Red Bull racer and now consultant to the team, is one of the few members of the Formula One fraternity to have driven the all-new Yas Marina Circuit, venue for next weekend’s inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

According to the Scot, it combines the best features of designer Hermann Tilke’s other recent F1 tracks and the challenge of an old-school street circuit.

“Having had the opportunity to drive the circuit, what struck me is that it’s a two-stage track,” said Coulthard, who got behind the wheel of a two-seater Grand Prix car at a recent media day. “The first half of the lap until corner nine is typical of the new type of track.

“There’s the fast section at the beginning from Turn One to the Turn Four tight hairpin with the grandstand literally overhead, giving great viewing for the spectators. The 1.2 kilometre back straight should give an opportunity for some slipstreaming and overtaking.

“The back section of the circuit has a real street circuit feel to it, where you come along the section that takes you to the hotel and then passes underneath it, via a series of 90 degree right-handers and left-handers before opening out to the end of the lap and a medium speed corner on to the start-finish straight.”

Coulthard described the unusual pit lane - actually a tunnel under the circuit - as ‘particularly challenging’ for the drivers as they enter and exit the pits and was similarly impressed with the high standard of the new venue’s infrastructure.

“There are great facilities and air-conditioned garages which will make working conditions in the heat a little bit easier and also having an evening race will obviously take some of the heat out of what can be a very hot venue,” he added.

Abu Dhabi will be Formula One racing’s first twilight Grand Prix, with the race starting around dusk at 1700 hours local time and finishing in the dark under floodlights.

“I think the twilight aspect of the race will be more of a visual treat for the spectators and the TV audience, but I think for the drivers it will be absolutely fine, as there is enough overhead lighting to make it blend seamlessly from day into night, no problem,” commented Coulthard.