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Abu Dhabi in talks over F1 layout change to aid overtaking

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Formula 1 track designer Hermann Tilke has confirmed talks are ongoing regarding a possible layout change for the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi to try and aid overtaking.

Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix offered little in the way of on-track action as Valtteri Bottas took a commanding victory for Mercedes ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, who vented his frustration over the difficulty of following other cars and the lack of overtaking spots.

Speaking to Sky Sports following the race, track designer Tilke confirmed a layout tweak was under consideration in the hope of making overtaking more viable.

“We have an idea to change one corner. It’s a very small change but maybe it has a lot of impact for overtaking,” Tilke said.

“We are in discussions.”

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner agreed there was a need to investigate what changes could be made to the Yas Marina Circuit to improve the on-track spectacle.

“It is something that we should certainly look at. It is such a wonderful setting and a fantastic background to sign off the season,” Horner told reporters in Abu Dhabi.

“If there was a couple of tweaks that could be done, that would introduce better overtaking opportunities, I am sure the commercial rights holder would be interested to do that.

“Today was not F1 at its best. We have seen more exciting races this season.”

Daniel Ricciardo was the only driver who qualified in the top 10 not to score a point in Abu Dhabi on Sunday following his retirement, which accounted for the single position gain through the race of those finishing fourth to eighth.

Fernando Alonso was the only points scorer to gain multiple places, rising from 11th to ninth after passing Williams’ Felipe Massa.

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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