The newly developed bumps on the track surface at the Yas Marina Circuit have been a talking point this weekend in both the Formula 1 and Formula 2 paddocks.
The Hermann Tilke–designed circuit, which has featured on the respective GP2 Asia, GP2 and F2 calendars since its inauguration in 2009, is historically known for having a smooth surface.
This year, however, drivers have reported a large bump between the high-speed Turns 2 and 3 in the opening sector. In F1’s second practice session, a bump in this area sent Scuderia Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz spinning into the barriers at high speed, which caused the session to be brought under a 27-minute red flag.
After the F2 Sprint Race on Saturday, pole-sitter and second-place finisher Enzo Fittipaldi reported that going over a bump before the biggest braking zone of the circuit at Turn 6 had caused his tyres to suffer a flat spot and degrade much more quickly for the second half of the race as championship contender Frederik Vesti ran away with the race win.
InsideF2 asked the top three drivers from the race about how and whether the increased bumpiness of the surface relative to that of previous years affected their tyre management and driving approaches.
“I think the bumps are certainly there. I even got a bit surprised yesterday in the F2 practice in Turn 3. Between Turns 2 and 3, there is a big bump. It’s a part of the track. It makes it also difficult and cool. All tracks don’t have to be perfectly smooth,” Vesti said.
“On the set-up side, I really don’t know. PREMA is in charge of that, and I am in charge of driving.”
Elaborating on his initial comment, Fittipaldi said, “I think I was just in the middle of the track under braking coming into Turn 6, so that’s why I got the bump there, but normally on the racing line, it’s fine.
“[In] Turn 2, 3, compared to last year, that bump definitely got worse, but like Fred said, it just makes it more interesting and more difficult – easier for drivers to make mistakes, which is more fun.”
For third-place finisher Richard Verschoor, one of six current F2 drivers to race in the non-championship F3 race at the Macau Grand Prix last week, the bumps this week in Abu Dhabi posed little issue.
“It was a bit more bumpy there than it is here, so I’m not too worried,” he said. Macau’s Guia Circuit is composed of public roads that open nightly; several drivers noted its bumpiness in conversations with me last weekend.
Credit: Diederik van der Laan / Dutch Photo Agency via Red Bull Content Pool