The Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will still be an “exciting event” even if Lewis Hamilton arrives in November with the Formula One drivers’ championship already sewn up, says the chief executive of Yas Marina Circuit.
Hamilton stretched his lead over closest rival Sebastian Vettel to 50 points with victory at the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday, leaving the Ferrari man with an uphill task to reel in the Mercedes-GP driver with only four races remaining before the season finale in the UAE.
But Al Tareq Al Ameri, YMC chief executive, believes the 10th staging of the grand prix on November 25 will not be one to miss, even if Hamilton has already sealed a fifth world title.
“It has been an exciting season and we are still going to have an exciting race,” the Emirati said on Tuesday at the launch of YMC’s 2018-19 calendar.
“We have seen lots of good racing this year. There are two teams fighting at the front, which three or four years ago we did not have when the leading cars were spread out at the front, so I think it will deliver in Abu Dhabi.”
Of the Hamilton v Vettel duel at the front, he added: “Sometimes that is the nature of racing, that it can go one way rather than another at a certain point of the season and one driver is gaining more momentum than another one, and that is what we have seen in the recent races.”
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Al Ameri added that ticket sales for the Abu Dhabi GP "are great", with an extra batch recently released for the standing area on Abu Dhabi Hill quickly snapped up.
"They [ticket sales] are higher than they were at this stage last year and we did accommodate an additional request to make available 1,000 tickets for Abu Dhabi Hill, and they have already been sold out," he said.
“So everything is moving in the right direction and momentum is good and it is shaping up to be one of the best year’s hosting.”
A new addition to the YMC calendar this season will be the FIA World Rallycross Championship on April 5-6, the first time Rallycross has been held at the capital's track.
“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,” said Mohammed ben Sulayem, president of the Automobile and Touring Club UAE.
Other motorsport events include the TRD 86 Cup and the Gulf 12 Hours endurance race, while Yas Marina Circuit will again host the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi on March 8-9.