Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton celebrates on the podium after winning the Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom circuit on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Abu Dhabi: With the way things stand, Lewis Hamilton may have roared away with the Formula One Drivers’ Championship by the time the season-ending Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix gets under way here in the capital.

Whatever may be the case, Yas Marina Circuit Chief Executive Officer Al Tareq Al Ameri is confident that it will not take the gloss off from what will be the 10th edition of the event in Abu Dhabi.

“Regardless of him winning the title before him coming to Abu Dhabi or not, I think we still look at it as an exciting season. A lot of people have paid attention to this season and followed it,” said Al Ameri on the sidelines of the Yas Marina Circuit’s 2018-19 calendar launch on Tuesday. “That excitement is still going to come and will not take anything away.”

One of the main reason for Al Ameri to be so confident about the success of the event is to do with the ticket sales.

“A different spectrum of people still engage us and that’s a huge plus,” he said. “There is momentum in sales and demand. Our sales are in best shape ever, better than last year. We announced extra 1000 Abu Dhabi Hill tickets last week and it got sold out immediately.

Al Ameri went on to reveal that the circuit will not be undergoing any major modifications but the customer experience has been enhanced.

“We are revamping the whole programme and have added more stuff for our clients,” he said. “We are opening more time for our visitors to engage with the teams. Our pit lane experience which is popular will be enhanced. We will open for the first time the support pit for the F2 and F3 races. It will be our best delivery from the racing prospective.

The latest addition for the 2018-19 calendar will be the opening race of the FIA World Rallycross Championship.

The event, that will be held in the Middle East for the first time, will be held on April 5-6.

“For the World Rallycross there is a need for tarmac and dirt. So we are going to convert some of the F1’s infield into the dirt,” said Al Ameri. “The work has been undertaken and it will be a permanent structure. We will build a legacy programme at the back of it — a grassroots motorsport discipline so that youngsters can use WRX car around that track.”

Mohammad Bin Sulayem, President of the Automobile & Touring Club UAE, also welcomed the move to bring the FIA World Rallycross Championship to Yas Marina Circuit.

“This international event will help to build on the UAE’s already strong heritage of competing in major motorsports events and hosting championship races as well as inspiring a new generation of talented racing stars to compete at the highest level.”


Key Events for 2018-19 season

A new early morning cycling programme will be launched for the 2018/19 season

TrainAM, a new partnership with Abu Dhabi Cycling Club, will be open to members of the community and clubs across Abu Dhabi with the Circuit providing a safe, fun and exciting venue for keen cyclists to train

Return of the popular single-seater championships and iconic endurance races to street-style drag events, including the TRD 86 Cup, Yas Racing Series, and the Gulf 12 Hours, while vintage F1 cars along with the Super Street and Yas Roll Racing drag racing sessions

World’s most talented drivers will be competing for glory across the Championship’s thrilling Supercar and RX2 classes

Budding racers will also receive extra motivation this year thanks to a Dh24 million revamp of the Yas KartZone. The new 1.2km track offers improved racing facilities for adults, kids and young children as well upgraded food and beverage outlets and public viewing areas

The Gulf 12 Hours endurance race is also back on December 13-15, 2018, while the Yas Super Street Challenge, Yas Marina Circuit’s local urban racing competition.