ABU DHABI // Tickets for the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will go on sale in the next week, race organisers confirmed yesterday. The Formula One meeting is to be held over the weekend of Oct 30 - Nov 1 at the Yas Marina Circuit, which is still being built on Yas Island. Although they did not confirm the exact date that tickets will be released, the organisers, Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management (ADMM), said they would go on sale to the public "at the end of March", adding that they expected "strong demand".
ADMM, a joint venture between the Government of Abu Dhabi and Aldar Properties, did not confirm the admission prices or the types of tickets expected to be made available, but details are expected to be announced soon. Organisers are planning on more than 50,000 spectators attending each day of the race weekend. It is believed that a large percentage of the tickets will be made available to people within the UAE.
Abu Dhabi is one of the last F1 races to make tickets available. Only Singapore and the UAE race have not yet put all categories of ticket up for sale. Tickets for the exclusive Paddock Club area at the Yas Marina Circuit, located above the team garages, have been on sale for some time at more than £3,100 (Dh16,408) per person. On average, three-day tickets for grands prix cost around Dh2,000. A general three-day pass for the Japanese Grand Prix in October - allowing entry into practice, qualifying sessions and the race itself - would cost £395.77 (Dh2,095).
The equivalent pass for the British Grand Prix in June costs £381.22. Earlier this year, The National found that a number of websites were offering tickets for the race even before prices had been set or tickets made available. Some tickets were still on sale for Nov 15, despite the date having been moved forward to Nov 1 several months previously. One website even confused the Yas Marina Circuit with the Spa Francorchamps track in Belgium, claiming it would be surrounded by "wooded hillsides and small farms" that will not be found on Yas Island. All offending websites have since removed their self-imposed prices.
Richard Cregan, the general team manager with ADMM, said yesterday that the organisers were already arranging corporate hospitality packages. He said the race offered "a unique opportunity for businesses in the UAE to show their support and be associated with this historic milestone for the country". An ADMM spokesman said it had "already secured significant sponsorship from leading UAE and international companies" that had not yet been named. The spokesman added: "Further opportunities exist for other UAE-based businesses and international companies doing business in the Emirates."
Organisers of the Singapore race said yesterday they would soon put an initial wave of tickets on sale at lower prices than last year's race. Teo Hock Seng, the chairman of Singapore GP, the race promoter, said: "We are fully aware of the need to reflect the realities of the current economic situation. Our objective has always been to make the race as accessible as possible." The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be the final date in the race calendar, which starts this weekend in Melbourne, Australia.