ISSUE No.3 March - April 2007

Formula 1 in Abu Dhabi from 2009
Challenging Course with City Character

Whining engines, screeching tyres and the smell of rubber filled Abu Dhabi on the first weekend of February as Formula 1 took over the Emirati capital for a day. This will be repeated annually from 2009 when the United Arab Emirates Grand Prix is held in Abu Dhabi. Whilst European cities are struggling to retain their license, there will be two races in the Gulf region. The island nation Bahrain has been a Formula 1 venue since 2004 and is set to continue. According to the latest reports, the Grand Prix contract with Bahrain has been renewed although no information has officially been released as regards its length. However, according to the experts, the contracts should run until at least 2013.

An exhibition race with top sportsmen took place outside the official Grand Prix circuit for the first time in the history of Formula 1. The international motor-racing elite demonstrated their skills on a four-kilometre course. Stars like two-times world champion Fernando Alonso, the Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikonnen and Felipe Massa, as well as Ralf Schumacher, who currently drives for the Toyota team, set off from the main gate of the Emirates Palace  in the direction of Marina Mall. Thousands of onlookers marvelled at the gratis race. Celebrities such as Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and Renault team manager Flavio Briatore watched the action alongside HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister for Presidential Affairs, from the VIP stand.

The event marked the official signing of a seven-year contract between the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the Formula 1 management to host the first UAE Grand Prix from 2009. Abu Dhabi is the fifth new venue in recent years and joins Manama, Kuala Lumpur, Istanbul and Shanghai on the international motor-racing circuit. “We are delighted to welcome Abu Dhabi into the Formula 1 family and look forward to a long and successful partnership“, said Bernie Ecclestone during the press conference. The Formula 1 boss is looking to promote motor-racing in the Gulf region which is why Abu Dhabi is to join Bahrain as a venue in the Middle East. Ecclestone is making further plans to extend the motor-racing season from 19 to 20 events.

The new Formula 1 course will be built on Yas Island, only ten minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport. The German Hermann Tilke designed the track with the latest features of motor-racing in mind to guarantee challenging races. The total length of 5.6 kilometres will be divided into three sections, 2.5 kilometres of which will serve purely as a race track. The drivers will be able to prove their skill on the high-speed sections which end with tight corners. The new course will be constructed near the Ferrari theme park on the offshore island and thus modelled on the inner-city circuits like Monaco. Besides the cultural facilities, go-carting courses, dune courses, driver schools and three golf courses will also make for a pleasant visit. With this large-scale project, Abu Dhabi is looking to become a Grand Prix paradise and establish itself in the world of Formula 1. The metropolis has already secured a permanent place through investments from Ferrari. The state investment company Mubadala will be an official sponsor during the Formula 1 seasons 2007 – 2009. There are no official figures as to the amount of the sponsorship money.