Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo and Mercedes’ Toto Wolff have criticized the Yas Marina circuit for the poor racing it produces.
Serving as F1 season finale since 2014, Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit has long been the subject of intense criticism, with each visit to the venue generating yet more opprobrium and emboldening its critics, especially for the racing it delivers.
There is widespread distaste among fans for the final sector particularly, with a multitude of unimaginative, 90-degree corners making overtaking exceedingly difficult, and often proving themselves to be conducive to processional racing. This is exacerbated, many say, by the disruptive aerodynamics of modern F1 cars.
The poor racing product has led Mercedes boss Wolff to join in criticism of the layout after a poorly-received Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. “The amount of messages I got during the race with the sleeping emoji, it was the most I’ve ever gotten,” he said to media including F1, Motorsport Network, Racefans.net, BBC, AMuS and more.
“What can we do? I think we need to look, and I think it’s very difficult to follow in the wake in Abu Dhabi,” he said, before citing an instance in the 2010 edition of the race wherein championship contender Fernando Alonso was unable to pass Vitaly Petrov.
“It’s a fantastic venue, the infrastructure is like no other, and spectacular. But like we saw with Alonso and Petrov, it’s just so difficult to overtake, even if the car in front of you is slow. So I think maybe it’s worth looking at the configuration, but it’s none of my business, but maybe there are track configurations we could look at that would make it a little bit more interesting for overtaking purposes. But again, it’s not up to me,” Wolff said.
Renault driver Ricciardo, who said that he nonetheless enjoyed a “fun” race on Sunday, agreed that some changes to the F1 track would be advisable given the “grim” entertainment product that the circuit often delivers.
“We know Abu Dhabi as a Sunday venue, it’s not always the most exciting race,” said Ricciardo. “It’s a shame because it is such a great venue, I certainly don’t want to talk the place down because I want to keep coming back here. Maybe we could play around with the layout because unfortunately on Sunday it is tricky and it’s sometimes a bit grim from an entertainment point of view.”
A roadblock to any change on the matter is limited room for alterations to the circuit, specifically in the third sector where the track is designed around a hotel. Similarly, a removal of the race from the calendar seems unlikely given the vast sums of money paid by Abu Dhabi to host the season finale, and the investment of an estimated 500 million dollars placed into the facilities.
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