Perhaps surprisingly given his opinion of the Marina Bay circuit that played host to this year's inaugural Singapore Grand Prix, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has shown his support for the new Abu Dhabi circuit that will debut in 2009.
A sceptic even before the first floodlit F1 event got underway - claiming that he had the impression that Marina Bay would 'be another one of those letdowns where you cannot overtake, like Valencia' and 'a bad future for Formula One' - Montezemolo later called the event 'a humiliation' and 'a circus' after watching his team dent its title ambitions with a pit-lane debacle that sent Felipe Massa from first to nearly last.
"When you race on a track that would work better as a circus ring or something along those lines, anything can happen, because the real spectacle was supplied by the safety car," the new FOTA chairman told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport
at the time, "This is humiliating for the F1 world."
With Formula One moving towards a greater proportion of new circuits, and a mix of street and purpose-built courses like Singapore and Valencia, Abu Dhabi is scheduled to make its bow as the 2009 season finale. But, despite the Yas Marina layout having more than its fair share of quirks, Montezemolo has joined that chorus of approval that has erupted since computer-generated images of the circuit were published.
Among the 'highlights' of the venue are the stunning Yas Marina Hotel, which has the track running underneath it, an underground pit-lane exit, run-off areas that extend under the grandstands and, away from the actual race surface, the 60-metre Sun Tower, which will allow VIP guests a near 360-degree view of the action, and the marina itself, which will attempt to recreate the atmosphere of Monaco where Valencia and Singapore struggled.
"I went to see the progress at the circuit and I am very satisfied," Montezemolo admitted, "From what I have seen up to now, something absolutely extraordinary and, above all, very different is coming.
"It is very interesting - and, fortunately, a lot more
interesting - with regard to the other new circuits, such as Valencia and Singapore, that have left us very dissatisfied. Abu Dhabi is a circuit where, they tell me, it will be possible to overtake at three points, and that means there should not be cars running in Indian file like they do elsewhere."
To get a glimpse of what Abu Dhabi's $40bn development will offer Formula One click here