The Formula 1 2018 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will take place from Thursday November 22 to Sunday November 25
When Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton expressed concern last year over his struggle to overtake his team-mate Valtteri Bottas at the Abu Dhabi track due to its layout, the executive team at Yas Marina Circuit took his comments seriously carried out a thorough investigation.
Hamilton trailed his Mercedes F1 team-mate Valtteri Bottas throughout the twilight race, unable to get close enough to attempt to pass.
"It's a great, great track but unfortunately it doesn't suit the cars very well. In the last sector you just can't follow,” Hamilton said after the race, adding that cars needed a 1.4 second advantage to pass the car in front according to his race engineers.
Hamilton had urged race organisers to improve the track to allow drivers to overtake.
“If there’s any way we can improve this track to enable us to have these battles - you’ve got these long straights where you can’t even get close enough to utilise them - if there’s some way where we can enable us to be able to remain closer in that third sector, I think this will go up in the rankings of a great circuit,” the now five-time champion said at the time.
The management team at Yas Marina Circuit, concerned at the comments made by arguably the finest driver of his generation, carried out an analysis of the track and its layout to see if any improvements could be made.
The conclusion, which involved a wide spectrum of interested parties and stakeholders, found there were no issues with its design, according to CEO Al Tareq Al Ameri.
Speaking to Arabian Business, Al Ameri said the current car aerodynamics were to blame for limited movement on the track.
“There was a big discussion around how to make the track more exciting by allowing drivers to overtake. We immediately started investigation and worked closely with F1 management and their consultants, but at the end, the analysis showed that the issue is not related to the track, but to new car aerodynamics,” Al Ameri said.
While Al Ameri said no changes will be applied to the track layout, he said new regulations scheduled for 2019 are set to enhance driver and car performances.
“Those elements are ever changing and we can’t keep changing our track around these variables. There are no track changes in the sense of layout, but we have included additional enhancements of safety here and there. The introduction of the new aerodynamics will also enhance the performance of cars and their stimulation on track,” he said.
Al Ameri said this year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be ‘more exciting’ due to a number of new attractions, including driving track and garage experiences for visitors. He also praised the new F1 management under chairman and CEO Chase Carey for being open to ‘new ideas.’
“There is more excitement now. I’ve definitely seen the difference. There are more new ideas and concepts and trying things out. [They] always listen to new ideas and that’s what the sport needs at the moment,” he said.
Formula 1 was acquired by Liberty Group for £6.4billion in 2017 after being headed by Bernie Ecclestone for almost 40 years.
The Formula 1 2018 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will take place from Thursday November 22 to Sunday November 25.
Last week, the Abu Dhabi event organisers announced all grandstand seats for the races were sold out in record time. Only a limited number of event hospitality packages are left, starting from AED3,695 including food and beverage.
As for the Yasalam after-race concerts, they will welcome US rapper Post Malone on Thursday, Canadian superstar ‘The Weeknd’ on Friday, UK singer Sam Smith on Saturday and legendary American band Guns N’ Roses on Sunday.