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Singapore's street circuit gearing up for changes

THE Marina Bay circuit, home to the Singapore Grand Prix, will undergo key changes to increase overtaking opportunities following criticism by teams at last year's inaugural Formula One race.

Minor adjustments will be made to three turns and surface improvements undertaken at three other locations on the track, organizers said yesterday. Revisions will also be made to pit lane entry as well as one runoff area.

"While the circuit and the event exceeded expectations around the world, as with any brand new event there are always things we know we can do better," Michael McDonough, technical and race operations director, said in a statement.

The Singapore Grand Prix was hailed as a massive success by fans and participants, including Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, although several drivers admitted overtaking chances on the nighttime street circuit were limited.

Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, however, criticized what he said was a "circus" track with limited scope for overtaking and a safety car that had "humiliated" the sport.

Adjustments would be made to turns one, seven and 14 to allow drivers to overtake easier, while surface improvements would be made at turns five, six and seven, organizers said.

Despite being 15th on the grid, Spaniard Fernando Alonso pulled off a shock victory for Renault in the September race but admitted the use of the safety car had worked in his favor.

Meanwhile, Red Bull driver Mark Webber says he is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a broken leg and will be fully prepared for next month's season-opener.

Webber broke his right leg in November when he was hit by a car while riding a bicycle in a charity trekking race back home in Australia.

Webber has been undergoing treatment in a cryogenic chamber to aid knitting of the fracture, and was pleased with the results.

"The results over the last few weeks have been incredible. We had a really good week last week, so we're really positive. Dare I say it, we're probably a little bit ahead of schedule."

Webber expects to be back behind the wheel of a Red Bull late next week for the first time since the 2008 season closer in Brazil.

"I've really worked hard to get in this position," Webber said. "There's been some stuff in the press that I won't be 100 per cent fit for Melbourne. I will be 100 per cent ready to do my job."

The Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne begins the new season on March 29.


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