x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

What's it like...to take a lap round the Yas Marina circuit

The first thing that strikes you after you have somehow wedged yourself into the tiny space that makes up the cockpit is just how low to the ground you are.

The first thing that strikes you after you have somehow wedged yourself into the tiny space that makes up the cockpit is just how low to the ground you are. You are sat just inches from the ground and your vision is extremely limited with the tyres in front of you almost at head height. Then comes the deafening roar that hits you as the V8 engine is fired up, literally inches from your head. You may have ear plugs, a balaclava and a helmet on but that is no protection to the noise that still feels like it is going through you.

It is hot in the car with temperatures around the 50C mark, which is largely due to the heat of the engine, and there is no where to go, the tight seat belts have you well and truly lodged in the car with no chance of escape. Then it is time to move as the car gently moves forward from the garage and you are immediately stunned by the acceleration, even in the pitlane as you head towards the track.

But it is only when you arrive on the circuit that you feel the real speed as the car screams forward, flying along the road, changing direction smoothly and in a blink of the eye, with the engine wailing furiously in your ears, not that you care as you are lost in the adrenaline of just what you are doing. Just as you think this is as good as it gets your thought chain is shattered as the car brakes and your head is thrown forward, but the belts do their job and hold you tight. Going down the straight as the car reaches speeds around the 300kph mark, the airflow feels like it is trying to lift the helmet from your head.

The speed and the sharp braking makes for an exhausting experience and only the super fit can cope with more than a lap or two in these super machines. Your neck, exhausted by the constant change of direction and G-Forces put upon it by the sharp braking and high speed corners mean that keeping your held upright for any length of time in the car is a challenge and you soon find your head almost always at a slant.

Returning to the pitlane is also a rapid experience as the driver desperately leaves it as late as possible to brake before he has to hit the pitlane speed limiter button. Graham Caygill is an assistant sports editor at The National sports@thenational.ae