ABU DHABI // Where will you be in 114 days' time? That was what hundreds of people were asked yesterday as they watched a digital clock that will count down to the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix being switched on. The clock, embedded inside a billboard along the Corniche, tells passers-by how long - down to the second - they have to wait until 3pm on November 1. That is when the world will be watching as motorsport's leading drivers are given the green light to start racing at the Yas Marina Circuit. The billboard also features a dramatic blue Formula One car and a driver wearing a red and orange helmet.
Richard Cregan, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management, the organiser of the race, said the company was "delighted" to launch the clock. "With only 15 weeks to go to the first Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 1, we want everyone to share in the anticipation and excitement of one of Abu Dhabi's biggest sporting events," he said. People who saw the clock yesterday said they expected it to boost interest in the first Formula One race to be held in the UAE.
"It looks nice," said Lina Khair, 30, an insurance worker from Syria. "For sure it's a good location. All of the people will see it. Advertising it is very important." Equally impressed was Gerald Ali, a 33-year-old Filipino cashier at a nearby Adnoc petrol station, where customers have a clear view of the countdown. "A lot of people pass this way and they will see that big clock and they will be interested in the race."
Mr Ali said he was keen to attend the race, although financial considerations might make it difficult. "It costs a lot to get a ticket," he said. The circuit, where the world champion Lewis Hamilton, this year's pace-setter Jenson Button, and other big names including Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel will battle it out for precious points, is still under construction. The track will feature a 1.3km-long straight on which the cars will reach speeds as high as 300kph.
It will be one of only four circuits in the 17-race competition where the cars are driven in an anti-clockwise direction. firstname.lastname@example.org