ABU DHABI // Formula One will remain the jewel in Yas Marina Circuit's crown, but otherwise UAE motorsport will be the top priority going forward, the track's top official has said.
Richard Cregan, chief executive at Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management (ADMM), indicated that international series, such as the V8 Supercars and GP2 Asian Series, have been poorly attended at the circuit and will be discontinued.
"We've shifted from the events that come in, take a fee, disappear and nobody knows any more about them," Cregan said. "That wasn't ticking the boxes for us.
"We are prepared to put that effort instead into the local community because we get a far better long-term result from local racing than bringing in big events where we pay large sanction fees."
Cregan said that recent changes executed at Yas Marina Circuit have resulted in annual expenditure decreasing by between 35 and 40 per cent. He added that racing series such as V8s, GP2 and FIA GT all "delivered everything they said they would", but said that ADMM had to weigh the commercial viability of the events.
Self-sustainable, community-driven events such as Tri Yas and Run Yas will continue, he said. When the racetrack opened its doors in 2009, organisers said that the goal was to turn a profit within five years.
Next weekend's Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix marks the midway point of the half-decade plan and Cregan is adamant that, courtesy of a refocused business plan, the circuit is now on track to meet its goals.
"We believe we are," he said. "It's a big task. It's a very expensive site to maintain, but we have reduced costs significantly and we will reduce them further going forward.
"How we deliver our events so that they deliver the same level of satisfaction but cost us less is a major element of our focus, and I believe we can break even in the five-year time frame."
Costs have been lowered through several means. Off-track, ADMM trimmed 60 staff in June.
"The business direction has changed slightly," Cregan said. "F1 is still at the head of the business, but the train is taking a slightly different course and it's delivering that commercial viability and that break-even."
Next weekend's grand prix will include a one-off GP2 Finale, the Porsche Mobile 1 Super Cup and the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East. The V8 Supercars series will support the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix next year.
"To continue the popularity of the F1, we need to differentiate to other F1 races around the world," Cregan said. "That was why we decided to bundle the V8 Supercars as a support race."