Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chiefs will keep the radical elements of their race – including the pit-lane tunnel and day-night timing – for 2010 despite initial skepticism about the concepts prior to its inaugural event.
The Yas Marina circuit hosted this year's season finale, but raised eyebrows beforehand when it revealed its unique tunnel pit-lane exit that goes under the track, plus plans to host the event during dusk.
However, despite some doubts about the concepts, both the pit-lane and timing of the race proved a success, and on the back of the event capturing the FIA's prestigious Race Promoters' Trophy, track boss Richard Cregan says that it has already been agreed both will stay in place for next year.
"Nothing will change in that respect," he said when asked about the pit-lane exit design and the day-night race timing. We are doing some small modifications in light of some of the things that we recognized over the course of the event, but nothing major.
"Like anything new, there is always that challenge of breaking the mold, as in designing a circuit that has a pit-lane tunnel as an exit. You will have lots of people who will detract from the spectacle of it by talking only of the doom and gloom, but we didn't have it – it worked very, very well. The lighting system worked incredibly well, the drivers were happy with it and, most importantly, it created an amazing spectacle."
With the dust having settled on the spectacular end-of-season event, Cregan said the feedback from the race-day spectators and sport's officials was good – as he said interest in ticket sales had already started.
"It certainly fulfilled everything that we set out to achieve in terms of creating awareness for Abu Dhabi and the UAE. I think the most important thing was that we did sell out, and people went away, they were happy, and they want to come back. We have already had a lot of people contacting us through our numbers and e-mails to book their tickets again, so they had a great experience. That was our target from the beginning – to make sure there was a good experience had by all."
And although the on-track battle did not produce the most memorable race of the year, Cregan thinks that had more to do with current F1 car design than the layout of the Yas Marina circuit.
"We were very happy that the event went off very well," he said. "Both the FIA and FOM said the event was fantastic. The racing spectacle is something that comes about through weather conditions or other circumstances – and it's also down to car design and sporting regulations.
"If you look at some of the other circuits around, they all have that same issue that a lot of it is down to the car design and the regulations as to what it can create – and the fact of whether drivers are willing to take a risk. Are they willing to lose a hundredth of a second here or there to have more spectacular racing?
"Next year, when you have no refueling, you will see more exciting racing, you will see cars on full tanks, and you will see very much that it is down to how the driver will look after his tires. We will see more interesting racing."