x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Petrov backs no change to Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina circuit

In the spotlight in last year's race, the Renault driver disagrees that the Grand Prix will produce a procession with the proposed track changes shelved.

SILVERSTONE, ENGLAND // Vitaly Petrov has assured UAE race fans the decision by Yas Marina Circuit executives to postpone their proposed track changes does not mean the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will produce a procession.

Following the decision by Yas officials to shelve plans that would have improved overtaking at the circuit, some fans had voiced concerns that the race might fail to produce an on-track spectacle once more. But Petrov dismissed such suggestions and hinted this year's race could provide some compelling action.

"It's a good decision," he said when informed this year's race on November 13 will be on an unchanged track.

"The straight is very, very long there and with [the Drag Reduction System], it will make it very easy to overtake."

Renault's Russian driver, who for much of last year was racing in the middle order, found himself thrown into the spotlight at the season-ending race at Yas Marina last November when Fernando Alonso, chasing a third world championship, got stuck behind him after pitting early on in the race.

Petrov refused to concede position and Ferrari's Spaniard was forced to watch his hopes of securing the necessary points to ensure success slip away as overtaking proved, to borrow the phrase later used by Jean Todt, the FIA president, "impossible".

Alonso finished the race furious, gesticulating towards his racing rival and complaining Petrov had "protected [his position] like it was the last lap". Ferrari, and much of the mainstream media, instead chose to criticise the track for its layout, which they argued was not conducive to on-track passing.

Officials at Yas moved swiftly to counter a repeat performance this year, speaking with drivers and Formula One personnel in a bid to discover ways of improving the spectacle.

In March, they revealed they had drawn a blueprint for a number of changes that would make overtaking easier.

Yet earlier this week, Richard Cregan, the Yas Marina chief executive, told The National the proposed plans had been postponed for this year's race.

Instead, officials will wait to see the effect new regulations implemented by the FIA, world motor sports governing body, will have on the UAE's annual race at Yas Marina.

A Drag Reduction System (DRS), Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (Kers) and new quick-wearing tyres have revitalised racing this season and Petrov is adamant the decision to postpone changes at Yas is the correct one.

"Last year, it was not possible to overtake because we didn't have DRS," Petrov said referencing a device that provides a driver a power-boost when he is less than one second behind another car.

"Yes, we had [an F-duct], but everybody had an [F-duct]. Now with DRS, it will be too easy to overtake there."

The news will be welcomed by spectators who have already bought more than 50 per cent of the tickets available for this season's penultimate race.