x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Future Grands Prix may be night races

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix could be held at night in future years, according to the event organiser's chief executive.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix could be held at night in future years, according to the event organiser's chief executive. Richard Cregan, of Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management, raised the prospect of trying "something that has never been done before" in later Grands Prix. While there has already been a night-time Formula One Grand Prix - at Singapore last year - one possibility speculated on by motor racing enthusiasts is for future Abu Dhabi races to begin at dusk and end at night.

The inaugural Abu Dhabi race, on November 1, is scheduled to begin at 3pm, so it will still be daylight when the chequered flag is waved. But Mr Cregan told the official website www.Formula1.com: "There is something special about racing Formula One cars at night-time. If, in the future, we can maximise that, and do something that has never been done before, then I think it would just add to the buzz of the whole weekend."

The most important thing, whether it was a day or night race, was to "create that atmosphere", he said. Mr Cregan was confident that the Yas Marina Circuit would be ready for this year's race. Progress towards completing the circuit was "very encouraging" and the work was on schedule. "As with any major project, it needs constant care and attention at this stage to make sure it stays that way, but apart from minor issues it's looking good and we're confident everything will be delivered on time," said Mr Cregan.

The circuit is to launch a marketing campaign informing the public what they can expect from the UAE's first Grand Prix. "There have been some great, and very successful, events here over the years, but in terms of numbers I think this will be the biggest," said Mr Cregan. The Grand Prix's effects would extend beyond motor racing, he said, as it would act as a "cultural window" to show off the many attractions in the UAE, and in the capital in particular.

"I think Abu Dhabi has a lot to offer, and people will see that when they come here," Mr Cregan said. It was announced this week that this year's support races will include rounds of the GP2 Asia Series, the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup and the Chevrolet Supercars Middle East Challenge. Mr Cregan praised his colleagues at Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), which has hosted Grands Prix since 2004, saying the chief executive, Martin Whitaker, had been "incredibly helpful".

"We both believe the future of motorsport in this region is going to be achieved through co-operation - that means ourselves, BIC, Qatar, Dubai and Saudi Arabia," Mr Cregan said. dbardsley@thenational.ae