x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Yas Marina Circuit to stay same for 2011 Abu Dhabi GP

Proposed plans to modify the circuit are postponed, Richard Cregan, the chief executive at Yas Marina confirms.

Sebastian Vettel drives towards the north grandstand complex at Yas Marin Circuit in third practice of the 2010 grand prix. The track will remain unchanged from last year's race.
Sebastian Vettel drives towards the north grandstand complex at Yas Marin Circuit in third practice of the 2010 grand prix. The track will remain unchanged from last year's race.

ABU DHABI // Proposed plans to modify the Yas Marina Circuit ahead of this year's Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix have been postponed until next year.

This capital's race on November 13 will now take place on the same unchanged track that was widely criticised last year.

Following a largely processional 2010 championship-deciding race that presented few overtaking opportunities for drivers, track officials had proposed changes and a blueprint had been drawn up to improve the racing spectacle.

However, Richard Cregan, the chief executive at Yas Marina, confirmed the plans have been put on hold until after the 2011 F1 season's penultimate race in the Emirates.

With the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the sport’s governing body, introducing new power-enhancing regulations at the start of the season, Cregan believes the need for track changes may no longer be required.

“With all the changes implemented by the FIA, the racing so far this year has been full of overtaking and excitement,” Cregan said.

“So we decided, rather than spend a whole lot of money making these changes, we’ll wait and see how [this year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix] goes first.”

Cregan said the proposed plans have been finalised, approved by Hermann Tilke, the track designer, and are ready to be carried out, if necessary, after the season’s penultimate race.

“The plans are effectively postponed until we see how things go at this year’s race,” he said.

Last week, Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management, which manages Yas Marina Circuit, said it was cutting 60 jobs due to the firm revising its business plan.

While the majority of the track will remain open this summer, sections of the circuit will close for routine maintenance and general repairs – most notably at Turn 20 – later this month. It is also understood that two or more manufacturers will travel to the capital to carry out endurance testing.

Cregan insisted he was unconcerned by the possibility the world championship could be decided well before the Formula One fraternity rolls into the country in November.

Sebastian Vettel, the world champion, leads the championship by 77 points after eight races and his Red Bull Racing team have been utterly dominant during qualifying this season, finishing in pole position at all the races thus far.

There are fears that if Vettel’s superiority continues, many of the races in the second half of the season – which includes both Abu Dhabi and the inaugural Indian Grand Prix – could be rendered dead rubbers. The FIA imposed new regulations at the European Grand Prix last week that many hoped would curb Red Bull’s dominance, but they failed.

The governing body are also implementing a new rule at this week’s British Grand Prix, prohibiting the use of off-throttle engine blown diffusers.

It is again hoped Red Bull will feel the biggest impact, although Cregan is not convinced that will happen.

“Our race is going to be great anyway,” Cregan said. “It will be a great spectacle like it has been in previous years. The championship race played no part in our decision to postpone the changes.

“The way Sebastian is going, if he wins at Silverstone [this weekend], he will be very hard to catch, although I’m sure Ferrari and McLaren will chase him all the way.”

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae