Abu Dhabi Grand Prix president Richard Cregan says he has no fears about any team orders chaos in this weekend's Formula 1's title showdown making it hard for him to sell the race to local fans in the future.
The season finale has sold out of its 55,000 reserved seats but, with the local community still learning about F1, there is a risk that a manipulated event on Sunday could leave fans questioning whether or not to continue following the sport. F1 did itself no favors in the United States, for example, with the Ferrari "handover" of the win in 2002 and the tire dramas of 2005.
However, Cregan reckons that any controversies in tomorrow's race will not dampen the enthusiasm of the fans, who he thinks are attending the race for reasons that go beyond simply watching an F1 title showdown. When asked if he was worried that there might be a negative impact if there is team orders chaos in the race, Cregan said: "Not really. It is an interesting point because, if you look at an established motorsport community, like Germany or France, where you have a large amount of learned motorsport fans, then you can have that situation you talk about. But here, we are probably lucky that it is a mix of dedicated motorsport fans, and at the same time people who are coming here to enjoy the event. We get a lot of people coming to the circuit as a social occasion and that is a good thing."
Cregan revealed that there had been an upswing in interest from fans after it became clear last weekend that this weekend's race would be the world title showdown – but by that stage there were only a few tickets remaining unsold.
"After Brazil there was a surge to try and get tickets, but at that stage we had just 200 tickets left," he said.
Abu Dhabi has been the season finale for two years now, but it has been scheduled to host the penultimate event in 2011. Cregan said the track was happy with its place on next year's schedule and that there would be no attempt to swap again with Brazil.
"It was a decision in the FIA World Council based, I believe, on economic reasons, because otherwise teams would have had to go from India to Brazil, and then back to Abu Dhabi. That would have meant a much bigger journey at that time for teams, while for us it is not a big issue anyway. Our target is mid-November, so as long as we are able to maintain that it, it is very good for us."