ABU DHABI // The second year of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was notable for how few glitches popped up compared with last year's inaugural affair, fans said yesterday.
Peter Rae, the director of communications for Yas Marina Circuit, said he was not aware of any problems in terms of parking, use of shuttle buses or transporting fans to and from the island.
"It's all been very smooth and very easy this year - I've heard of no problems whatsoever," he said.
Twice daily, the Yas Marina Circuit team assembled for a briefing to identify and solve any difficulties that had cropped up, Mr Rae said.
"Not once in any of the twice-a-day briefings was a single issue raised; it's been a relief to witness how well everything went."
A bonus, he said, was that there were no big downpours all weekend.
"We had a 15-minute rain shower on Friday afternoon, but it didn't affect the circuit at all; drainage went well and everyone was actually smiling to see a bit of rain."
Last year, organisers held daily summits with police and traffic authorities to iron out inevitable logistical problems that struck: not enough buses to carry fans back to their vehicles, tailbacks on the island more than two hours long after late-night concerts and difficulties in finding taxis.
"We did that last year because it was a brand-new venue, a brand-new event, but there was no need for that kind of a summit this year," Mr Rae said.
Zina Malas, a 30-year-old radio producer from Jordan, said that compared with last year's Beyonce concert, the concerts on Yas Island this year "were much more organised".
"Last year it was a bit messy, no one asked to see our tickets, there was a long wait to get in and out, it was pretty chaotic," she said.
This year, however, she said it was hassle-free taking a cab to the island to attend the Kanye West concert, and equally easy to find a cab to take her back home at the end of the night.
"Of course big crowds can make things a bit chaotic, like long lines of people waiting to get on buses to head back to their cars, but the lines were moving pretty quickly," she said.
Security measures this year, she said, also seemed more finely tuned.
"We were searched carefully before being let into the arena; no professional cameras were allowed, no umbrellas or drinks or snacks. It wasn't like that last year."
Ms Malas's only complaint was the long queues to get drinks or food during the concerts.
Simon Reynolds, 37, said he also was disappointed with the difficulty of getting food or drink, compared with the previous year.
"Last year, bottles of water were being given out for free during the race and practice, which makes sense considering how hot it is out here," said the engineer from Scotland.
"This year, they are charging for water, the food on offer isn't that great, and the queues are ridiculous - maybe they should have had more stations for food and drink."
Mohammed Juma, 28, however, said the organisation was "exemplary".
by Carol Huang
Racing fans who have travelled the world to watch Formula One races say they were impressed by the four-day Yas Island extravaganza.
“The Yas Marina Circuit? From TV, you cannot appreciate how amazing it is,” said Prejelin Naggan, an investment banker from South Africa who is travelling with friends.
Among the Grand Prix races they have attended – in Monaco, Italy and Istanbul – he said they preferred Abu Dhabi.
“You’re sitting on a racetrack where you’ve got yachts on one side, brilliant hotels, the marina …” he said. “It’s really slick.”
Prawin Devchell, from Mumbai, who travelled to Singapore for its grand prix last year, found the Yas Island administration particularly impressive.
“This was a specially built circuit so they could plan everything out,” he said. “The whole logistics – parking, shuttle, entry and exit – are impressive compared with Singapore. There, it was extremely crammed.”
Angel Perez, an IT consultant from London, said he liked having so many activities – the Porsche GT3 races, GP2 feeder races, Ferrari World theme park, autograph sessions with racers and concerts by Prince and Kanye West, among others.
“There’s so much to do and so little time,” he said.
Nigerian prince Malik Ado Ibrahim, a part owner of the Arrows F1 team, has seen his fair share of venues. He said Abu Dhabi had plenty to offer but needed to advertise better.
“It should market itself more as a tourist destination, especially in Africa,” he said.
“This is a beautiful track,” he said. “The fact that it is set in the desert adds to its appeal.”
* With additional reporting by Maey el Shoush