Abu Dhabi: Defending champion Lewis Hamilton is almost certain of running away with his fourth World Championship well before the final race in Abu Dhabi, but a top official of Yas Marina Circuit is unfazed that the season-ending twilight race won’t lose its sheen.
“We have seen it happen before as well when the title was already decided. I don’t think it took anything away from our race. People still came in and enjoyed and watched their favourite driver compete,” said Tareq Al Ameri, CEO of the track, on the sidelines of the 2017-18 calendar launch.
Al Ameri was of the view that the drivers and the fans would be more relaxed and would be more keen to compete, enjoy and celebrate the end of the season. “We have been in both positions when the race went to the wire and when it was already decided and on both occasions, the response was pretty much the same. It did not take anything away from the event itself,” asserted Al Ameri.
“The motorsport element, management side and rivalry between drivers — everything has been great and the new management at the helm of the sport has tried to shake things and add new elements into it. I would say there are exciting days ahead for Formula One,” said Al Ameri, who asserted that Yas Marina Circuit is keen to keep that last season.
“We are happy to keep the last race slot and we are also in discussion with the Liberty Group. So far, both of us think this is the right thing to do,” said Al Ameri, adding that there will be numerous side events to go with the races to keep the interest going.
“There is a lot been brought in and every year we have raised our delivery. It will once again be a dominant factor and people will definitely enjoy the experience. Kids will be allowed free on Friday and that’s a good offer for parents to get their kids into our circuit. They can also take them to theme parks for free and give them more space for families to enjoy,” revealed Al Ameri, whose circuit now boasts of the most comprehensive events calendar to date, featuring a staggering 420 events and activities over the next 12 months.
For the first time, Yas Marina Circuit has crossed the 400-mark, surpassing their previous record of 377 activities and events in 2016-17.
The new addition to calendar is the opening ceremony of the Special Olympics Abu Dhabi 2018 MENA Regional Games on March 17, 2018.
The circuit will see the return of fans’ favourite motorsport events, ranging from single-seater championships and iconic endurance races to street-style drag events. Budding racers will receive extra motivation this year with an upgraded Yas KartZone.
Peter Wheeler, CEO of Special Olympics Abu Dhabi 2019, said at the press conference: “Yas Marina Circuit offers a superb facility for our athletes to prepare and compete across multiple disciplines for our 2018 Regional Games. We are thrilled to partner with Yas Marina Circuit and fully integrate our regional event into Abu Dhabi’s thriving health and fitness community.”
Key events at Yas Marina CircuitSecond season of the FIA-accredited Formula 4 UAE Championship
* A series for young motorsport talent to help drivers bridge the gap between existing regional racing series and European competition.
* TRD 86 Cup which is part of the popular six-round Yas Racing Series. The TRD 86 Cup features alongside the Middle East Radical Cup, Formula Gulf Academy, NGK Racing Series, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East and UAE Time Attack.
* Returning for a second year within the Yas Racing Series is the Lamborghini Super Trofeo and TCR Middle East championship.
* The Gulf 12 Hours endurance race is back on December 14-16, 2017, while the Yas Super Street Challenge, Yas Marina Circuit’s local urban racing competition, will return to tear up the tyres with five categories over four rounds, starting on January 18-20, 2018.
* Yas KartZone is re-opening with a fleet of 32 new karts, a revamped track, and upgraded briefing and changing rooms. The facility will host the Yas Marina Circuit Karting Enduro Event on January 5, 2018 and the UAE Rotax Max Challenge on March 8-9, 2018.
* This year will see the ‘GP Parks Pass’ return and the introduction of the new ‘Kids Go Free’ package.