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A worker yesterday dismantles and loads an oversized billboard of the Ferrari F1 driver, Felipe Massa, onto a lorry at the F1 FanZone on the Corniche.
A worker yesterday dismantles and loads an oversized billboard of the Ferrari F1 driver, Felipe Massa, onto a lorry at the F1 FanZone on the Corniche.

Yas Marina cleans up after the F1 party

The 2010 championship may be over but the roar of engines could still be heard at Yas Marina Circuit yesterday as drivers, cars and teams began preparations for the next season of Formula One.

ABU DHABI // The Formula One circus is staying in town - at least for a few more days.

As soon as Sebastian Vettel roared past the chequered flag to claim the world championship on Sunday, the F1 teams began packing up, but only some of their gear.

The cars and engines will stay at Yas Marina Circuit until Saturday, while the 12 teams put the cars, young drivers and the new Pirelli tyres for next season through their paces.

"They have packed up a lot of gear into the sea containers," said Andy Beaven, the senior paddock manager at Yas Marina Circuit. "Anything that is broken or damaged would be put away. Also, the equipment for the paddock area, like tables and chairs, were not needed. It could be up to 100 things to put away now."

The sea freight, which consists of such easily replaced equipment, will be shipped back to team headquarters in Europe. The more expensive and irreplaceable parts will be flown back separately.

Yesterday, the roar of the V8 engines could be heard near the track as engineers fine-tuned them. Today, drivers hoping to make it big in future seasons get behind the wheel. The young drivers need 300 hours of time in an F1 car to receive their Super Licence, which allows them to race in Formula One.

The racing teams were not the only ones recovering from the main event. Workers scoured the track grounds for any rubbish tossed aside by the 50,000 departing fans - a job organisers said was minimal at Yas Island because of thorough groundskeeping during the event.

"You can always tell how many people were at any event by the amount of rubbish left behind the next day. It was different at Yas," said Steven Umfreville, the commercial director of Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management (ADMM), which manages Yas Marina Circuit.

The Oasis areas, where racegoers enjoyed food and entertainment, were dismantled yesterday. The fast-food outlets were put into storage and the media centre was rearranged into a configuration that can be used for conferences.

The race on Sunday may have marked the end of the Formula One season, but it was only the start of the season for the circuit. The next time it opens to the public will be the Open Drag Racing night on December 4. Then comes more drag racing, the Australian V8 supercars and the FIA GT1 World Championship.

Next year's race was already on the mind of the track's chief executive before the 2010 race even began.

"We are now looking at what we have and ways of improving for 2011. We will measure the customer feedback and go from there," Richard Cregan, the chief executive of ADMM, said last week.

On the Corniche yesterday, the concert promoters Flash were breaking down the F1 FanZone. The area opened in October and for two weeks before the Formula One showdown it featured activities every night. Thousands of visitors took in car-themed film nights, watched a Brazilian parade and had the chance to meet F1 drivers.

Mike Fairburn, the director of marketing and planning at Flash, expected the FanZone to be all gone by Thursday.

"They are working really fast to get everything down," he said.

The stage on which free concerts were performed was down by yesterday afternoon, as were the lighting towers. During the four nights of the Beats on the Beach concerts, 120,000 people danced on the sand.

There was a hive of activity around the Flash Forum too. The domed building on Yas Island, a temporary home to Skybar, will be the site of more events this year.

"We will keep about 40 per cent of what's inside at the moment, like some of the lighting and the wiring," Mr Fairburn said. "It will go from 1,000 people for a black tie event to 6,000 people for an R 'n' B concert."

At Yas Arena, 45,000 fans watched Prince on Sunday night.

"We are leaving everything for the Jonas Brothers, who will play this weekend," he said. The only changes to be made are to the banners and changing some of the services."

Yas Arena will be used every weekend by Flash for concerts, including Guns N' Roses in December.




Dream gig for young singer

ABU DHABI // It was the chance of a lifetime for any aspiring musician – the opportunity to support the chart-toppers Sugababes and Corinne Bailey Rae in concert.

For schoolgirl Charlotte Simmonds, who has wanted a career in music from an early age, “it was a dream come true”.

In two late-night sets last weekend at the Longitude Bar in Yas Hotel as part of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after-race festivities, the 16-year-old singer marked her first public performance.

“I couldn’t have picked a better place, a better atmosphere, or a better group of people to perform with,” she said.

Charlotte, from the UK, got her lucky break when she was introduced to Maxine Redding, a projects associate at Flash Entertainment.

“Charley is just fantastic, she was perfect for this kind of event,” said Ms Redding. “She’s among the core of the very best of local talent,” she said.

She was one of four performers earmarked by Ms Redding for the show from 11.30pm to 12.30am on Friday and Saturday.

Charlotte, who has just started studying for her A-levels at Jumeirah College in Dubai, said she hoped to get into a studio and record some tracks in the coming months.

* Martin Croucher

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