ABU DHABI //Yas Marina Circuit will be modified in the summer to improve overtaking opportunities and make for a more exciting Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The chief executive of Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management, Richard Cregan, said yesterday the combination of new technical car and tyre rules along with changes to some of the turns at the track would allow for more manoeuvrability.
"We wanted to hold motorbike races in the future and we had to look at the modifications we'd have to make. We could see what we could do to improve and enhance overtaking." This, Mr Cregan said, would make racing on the 5.5km track more exciting.
There was much debate at the end of last year's F1 season about making changes to several of the tracks to allow for more overtaking.
"We have a team of people working on it at the moment and we are looking at the feedback from drivers in F1, GP2, Australian V8s and the UAE drivers," Mr Cregan said.
Last year, for example, Fernando Alonso, who was in contention for the world championship title, was held behind Vitaly Petrov, who was driving an inferior Renault at Yas Marina Circuit.
Mr Cregan said fans sitting in the North Stand would see more overtaking on turns six and seven, which is the hairpin taken in first gear that turns on to one of the longest straights in the championship’s 19 circuits. Last year, Vitantonio Liuzzi crashed dramatically into Michael Schumacher between the two turns.
At the end of the straight, drivers will see more changes to turns eight and nine after braking from more than 300kph at the West Grandstand. “There will be small changes which will hopefully add to the show,” Mr Cregan said.
Mr Cregan added that significant changes in aerodynamics and a Kinetic Energy Recovery system, which was re-introduced for the 2011 season, would add 100 horsepower in the overtaking zones.
Tickets for the 2011 Grand Prix, which go on sale this morning, will cost from Dh1,440, which includes an “early bird” discount.
Race fans who purchase tickets from now until May 31 can get a discount of 20 per cent, with Dh1,800 two-day grandstand tickets going for Dh1,440 – the same price as last year. Three-day Dh2,000 grandstand tickets will sell for Dh1,600 and premium tickets which include balcony seating, air conditioning and food and beverage service are Dh4,250.
For a full VIP experience, Paddock Club tickets begin at Dh16,900.
Enetrtainment at the Yas Arena the past two years has included celebrated artists such as Prince, Aerosmith and Beyonce. Grand Prix tickets include entry to the concerts. The 2011 line-up has yet to be announced.
“I think the Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi is becoming a social event more so than anything else,” Mr Cregan said.
Last year, the 50,000 capacity grandstands sold out just days before the race which crowned Sebastian Vettel world champion.