x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

No rush for changes for Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit

Richard Cregan, the chief executive of Yas Marina Circuit, will be watching the next two F1 races closely before deciding if any changes to the track will be made.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has been criticised for the lack of overtaking that has taken place.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has been criticised for the lack of overtaking that has taken place.

Proposed changes to improve the possibility of overtaking at Yas Marina Circuit may be delayed as track officials continue to assess whether new regulations for Formula One have made the costly alterations unnecessary.

"We are looking at the effect the technical regulations have had on the racing this season and so far they have produced great results for the spectators, which is the most important thing," said Richard Cregan, the chief executive of Yas Marina Circuit.

"Definitely, the new regulations have made Formula One more exciting, but we will be watching the next couple of races keenly to see how they unfold before making a decision."

This weekend's Spanish Grand Pix is notoriously difficult when it comes to overtaking. The pole-sitter has won the past 10 grands prix held at Circuit de Catalunya.

Likewise, next week's Monaco Grand Prix in Monte Carlo, with its narrow, twisting street circuit, has also regularly produced processional racing over the years.

Yas Marina officials are keen to see whether the new regulations - adjustable rear wings, a power-enhancing "boost" system and quick-wearing tyres - will have an impact on racing at those tracks.

Earlier this year, Cregan told The National that changes were likely following harsh criticism for the lack of overtaking possibilities at last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso, the Ferrari driver chasing the world championship, was unable to pass Vitaly Petrov's Renault despite Alonso being more than one second faster in qualifying.

The FIA, the governing body of world motorsport, introduced the new regulations this season in an attempt to improve overtaking potential at all tracks, and four races into the new season, on-track passing has been rife. At Instabul two weeks ago, 79 overtaking manoeuvres were successfully completed.

Initially, the primary reason for the proposed changes at Yas Marina was to make the circuit equipped to host a future round of the MotoGP motorcycle racing series. But track officials also hoped to address the feedback from the F1 fraternity.

With overtaking no longer appearing so difficult, however, and a potential MotoGP race not taking place until 2012 at the earliest, the immediate implementation of circuit modifications at Yas Marina may not be essential, Cregan said.

"We are looking at the circuit changes and will make a final decision in consultation with FIA and the various stakeholders at the end of this month," he said.

"We need to question whether spending money on changing the track to improve overtaking is really necessary at this point in time when the issue has already been addressed by the FIA and the race teams - and the result has been absolutely phenomenal racing.

"Digging up the track even for minor changes is very expensive, so we need to make sure it is the right step forward and also the right time to close the circuit. To make alterations would result in a loss of revenue, so that must be considered, also."

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae