• Luigi Sebastiano De Blasi

Asian F3 | The Hidden Gem Which Is the Dubai Autodrome

The Asian F3 heads to the Dubai Autodrome for a second time this weekend. They started the season at the same track during January's last weekend. In this article, all the elements that make it a great track are going to be under the lens.

The Main Straight | © Nekrews 51

The Dubai Autodrome is a 3.3 miles long (5.3 km) clockwise permanent road course located 12 miles south (20 km) of central Dubai, in the 'Dubai Motor City'. It is a zone of different property developments, each one with an own theme: in fact, the Dubai Motor City borders both the Dubai Sports City and the Dubai Studio City. The track opened in 2004, and since 2006 hosted the prestigious Dubai 24 Hours - which is usually the inaugural race of the 24H GT Series - which takes place in mid-January. Very interestingly, it was also the first track to incorporate wide asphalt run-off areas, something which was then reused many times in other modern tracks, too. It is currently a FIA Grade1 track: a grading deployed by the FIA which depends on the suitability of the circuit for different types and groups of cars.

F1 Onboard Lap of the Dubai Autodrome on Assetto Corsa | © Nekrews 51

Thanks to the wonderful video of Nekrews 51 and to Race Optimal's stats in the video below (check out both their YouTube channels!!), it is possible to see how this track looks like onboard with Vettel's F1 Ferrari on the video game Assetto Corsa! We get to turn 1, 6th gear, right-hander and slightly downhill. Last week Pierre-Louis Chovet did an amazing move there round the outside on Roy Nissany, taking the lead of the race. That first turn is not a big breaking point as it is followed by a great sequence of very fast corners (and also slightly uphill) in 7th and then 8th gear. Then a slight touch on the brakes in turn 6: this 6th gear and right-hander turn has the most powerful lateral G forces, reaching 5.4 Gs. Turn 7 is slower - in 5th gear - and it is followed by turn 8 and 9 which is actually one long and amazingly uphill left-hander, again in 5th gear. This turn introduces us to the longest straight.

We reach the speed trap at 204 mph (329 kph), then hitting the brakes very hard for what is the slowest corner of the track (and a possible overtaking point) in 3rd gear. The last part of the track is the one in which the brakes are used the most (as it is in many other modern tracks, too): after a fast left-hander turn 11, turn 12 is a long right-hander in 4th gear. The 4th gear is then used again in the left-hander turn 14. This corner is one of the best parts of the track as it has a great elevation change that keeps going upwards in a faster right-hander turn 15. We go downhill for one last time as we reach the pit entry, and a 5th gear right-hander which leads to the main straight.

Stats of an ideal F1 lap time in Dubai | © February 2021 Race Optimal

And that was a lap of the Dubai Autodrome! As Nekrews51 did it in 1:20.527 in an F1 car, Guan Yu Zhou then did it in 1:34.430 in the F3 car in qualifying for round 1. The Chinese also set the fastest lap of the race in 1:35.405. A very fast track (never goes below 3rd gear in the F1 car) with many elevation changes and that must be also very enjoyable to drive. The reason why it is not on the F1 calendar must be that the Yas Marina Circuit got the priority as an F1 venue in the Emirates when it came to place in 2009. With that being said, the Dubai Autodrome would still be an amazing venue for F1 racing.

Dubai Circuit Map | © Copyright 2021 GPDestinations.com

This weekend the Asian F3 returns to Dubai with a brilliant Pierre-Louis Chovet clinching the top of the standings (standings data as of round 3) in front of two F2 drivers: Guan Yu Zhou and Jehan Daruvala. The two surprising youngsters Isack Hadjar and Dino Beganovic are nose-to-tale in 4th and 5th. These two are going to make the Formula Regional championship this year absolutely exceptional. The Turkish sim-racer Cem Bölükbaşı is also doing well in 8th. Race 1 was already won by Chovet as it was run today. Tomorrow there will be Race 2 at half past 5 AM GMT and Race 3 on Sunday will be at five past 7 AM GMT.

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