FIA President Jean Todt is another key figure to come out in criticism of Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit, and has demanded that new circuits provide more overtaking opportunities, in addition to current circuits making changes to improve passing chances.
His very sensible comments come in the wake of the evident lack of passing (unless your name was Robert Kubica) at last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with the examples of Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber being held up behind slower cars as prime examples.
Speaking to the La Stampa newspaper, Todt said: “We need to favour overtaking. It was impossible at Abu Dhabi.”
Todt was quick to reject suggestions that his calls stemmed from the difficulties experienced by his former Ferrari team’s lead driver, Fernando Alonso, in passing Vitaly Petrov to get up to the fourth place he needed to win a third Drivers’ Championship title. The Frenchman also pointed out that Lewis Hamilton was robbed of a potential victory when he emerged from his pit stop behind – and then found himself unable to pass – Robert Kubica, who was yet to make his pit stop.
“Take Hamilton: he had fresh tyres, he would have lapped two seconds quicker than Kubica, yet he didn’t manage to pass him,” Todt added.
“From now on, before homologating a circuit, we’ll evaluate its spectacle potential, besides its safety.”
The statement casts an ominous cloud for the venues whose reputations for ‘follow my leader’ processions are renowned, with Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya and Valencia street circuit being two obvious cures for insomnia.
Incredibly, circuits like the Hungaroring and Monte Carlo street circuit – neither recognised as overtaking-friendly circuits – have statistically demonstrated more race passes than the two Spanish circuits currently on the calendar.
“On 23 November we’ll discuss the overtaking problem in the [FIA] Commission,” Todt continued. “It’s the cars’ and tracks’ fault.
Should Todt get backing for this initiative – and the fans will applaud him if he does – then this one of the most welcome pieces of news with respect to improving the F1 show.
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Read our exposé on Hermann Tilke’s influence in track design here.
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