Yas Marina 'more enjoyable' now, say Hamilton and Verstappen

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12. 10.12.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina
© XPB 

Title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen might not agree on much this weekend, but both have given favourable reviews of the changes that have been made to the Yas Marina circuit.

Major upgrades to the venue made since last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix have included revisions to the hairpin on the back straight, new banking at turn 9, and the opening up of several corners.

In total, the changes are expected to cut the lap time by up to ten seconds compared to the old track records with the drivers also reporting that they have made the circuit more enjoyable.

"I like the track and the changes they have made to the track," reported Hamilton, who set the quickest time of the day in the twilight session. "It has made the track much more enjoyable and much more flowing.

"It is still a bit of an unknown in terms of pace but I am sure [the race] is going to be super close, like it has been in the previous races."

The changes are thought to benefit Mercedes more than Red Bull, but Hamilton didn't think that any difference would be significant.

“It is obviously close between us all but we got through our sessions," he said. "It still wasn’t easy to follow, but I think it will be better than what we’ve seen in the past.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB16B. 10.12.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina

"I think with two cars very much alike it might be a bit different," he suggested. “I tried following on my long run, I think it was Perez I was behind, I was trying to follow but it still wasn’t easy."

Hamilton's team mate Valtteri Bottas added: "The track feels better than before with more flow and some increased overtaking opportunities."

Verstappen has a similar positive take on the latest track changes to the Hermann Tilke facility. “I think it makes it a bit more fun to drive,” he said.

“In general faster corners are more fun, especially also the last sector," he said. "[It] was always a bit tight off camber. It's still off camber but at least the radius is a bit more round, let's say. I do think they are positive."

Over at Aston Martin, Sebastian Vettel - who won the very first Abu Dhabi GP held at Yas Marina in 2009 when he was racing with Red Bull - also gave the new-look circuit two thumbs up.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR21. 10.12.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina

“It is a good challenge to have the new circuit layout and it is faster and more exciting to drive," he said. "We are still learning the circuit, but it is a positive first impression.

"I think some of the weaker turns have been replaced with stronger corners, the highlight being the new banked turn 9," he added. The goal now is to extract more from the car and finish qualifying for the year on a high tomorrow.”

“It was good to experience the new Yas Marina Circuit layout today," contributed Vettel's team mate Lance Stroll. "It is definitely faster and has more flow to it, which makes it cool and fun to drive."

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