It’s probably just me but after watching FP1 today; I find Abu Dhabi visually confusing on TV.
There are so many lines, curves, painted lines and curves, swooping structures, background clutter and majesty, railings, stands, canopies, buildings, lights, huge boats, flags, people walking across glass bridges while cars are running, graphics on screen, trees, swooping architecture and an occasional swoopy car.
Don’t get me wrong, it could prove to be a terrific circuit and race for many years to come. It’s just that I found myself wondering if anyone in that country had ever seen or heard of a right-angle. After an hour or so, I realized that it was the enormity of the architecture that was throwing everything off for me visually speaking.
The architecture was so massive and so uniquely designed and dominant that the cars barely registered anymore. The bridges, structures and buildings were so huge that they dwarfed the track and cars and I found myself distracted by the massive structure as it went by and not really absorbing that there was actually a car on track.
It wasn’t until the on-board cameras were shown or a close up of a car that it became more visually digestible and even then, I had no idea where they were on track. Regardless, the track and it’s surroundings are stunning and I must say I am excited to see how the race will proceed. It’s a proper lap time around 01:41:00 and that is refreshing in this Tilke-verse.
It also seems the drivers feel it is unique in character and challenge as well:
“There is no criticism. I think they have done a very good job,” said outgoing Williams driver Nico Rosberg. “It is an interesting track and every corner is unique”
“There are some good parts of the track, like the first sector, high-speed corners, and then the last sector is a combination of very similar corners – always 90 degrees. But you enjoy it because there is always something to do on the track.
"There is no time to breathe,” said the outgoing Renault driver Fernando Alonso. “Maybe the middle sector is a little bit more normal, with two long straights, with two big braking points, and maybe the part of the track that you enjoy less. But overall it has been a good first day.”
“I think it is better than Singapore for sure,” said Force India driver Adrian Sutil, “Singapore is too light, it is too bright and you don’t have the feeling of a night race. “Here there is definitely enough light – you really see the track clearly – and it is nice. Driving into the sunset was quite cool with the sun there. It was a good feeling.”
The only criticism so far has come from the pit lane tunnel. I was concerned by the turn 3 pit exit but it seems that has actually worked well.
“It is very difficult and a little bit dangerous,” said retiring Ferrari driver Giancarlo Fisichella. If there is an accident with two cars, I don’t know if there is a space to go through. I guess we will see if there is an incident.”
So while I am in my own world of visual obscurity and petty whining about a stunning track; it seems the drivers are excited and so am I. McLaren seemed to set the pace today but the usual suspects aren’t far behind. As it stands, Ferrari had better work a little harder if they want to secure third in the constructor’s points battle.