Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Toro Rosso will wear the slogan "Kullanna Khalifa" for the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as Abu Dhabi's ties with the Formula One team strengthen. Christopher Pike / The National
Toro Rosso will wear the slogan 'Kullanna Khalifa' for the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as Abu Dhabi's ties with the Formula One team strengthen. Christopher Pike / The National

Toro Rosso hold hometown edge at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

When the green flag signals the start of action on Sunday, “Kullunna Khalifa”, a logo signifying UAE pride, will be on the side of both Toro Rosso cars for the world to see. The symbol, literally meaning “We are all Khalifa” as a tribute to the President of the UAE.

Of the 11 teams contesting the 2013 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Toro Rosso will start Sunday’s race in eighth position in team points. They are unlikely to improve on that, nor are they expected to have one of their two drivers on the podium at the end of it.

What they can count on is a few more cheers than they would usually expect from the crowds that will fill Yas Marina Circuit and stand on Abu Dhabi Hill.

When the green flag signals the start of action Sunday, “Kullunna Khalifa”, a logo signifying UAE pride, will be on the side of both Toro Rosso cars for the world to see.

The symbol, literally meaning “We are all Khalifa” as a tribute to the President of the UAE, has been promoted by Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), and will, by the end of the weekend, have potentially been seen by a television audience of more than 200 million.

“Kullunna Khalifa is something very important to us here at IPIC and we thought this was a wonderful opportunity to promote UAE pride,” said Khadem Al Qubaisi, the managing director of IPIC.

“The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is a fantastic occasion for everyone in the county. It puts Abu Dhabi in the international spotlight and every year people work so hard to make it all happen.”

The message was designed to raise pride in the achievements of the country across many fields, and not just sporting ones.

However, its appearance on the side of Toro Rosso’s cars has more significance for motor racing and signals the UAE’s increasing involvement in Formula One.

This may be the fifth edition of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but, beyond Etihad’s obvious sponsorship, Kullunna Khalifa and IPIC’s involvement will be the most high-profile backing by an Emirati institution for any particular team yet.

Toro Rosso is sponsored by three Abu Dhabi institutions: IPIC, Falcon Associates and Nova Chemicals. The backing has come about due to Toro Rosso’s willingness to invest in motorsport in this region.

“Everything came together when we were discussing future projects,” said Franz Tost, Toro Rosso’s team principal.

“The Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi is something very special; the venue is unbelievable. So we discussed with people from Abu Dhabi what we can do for the future, for example to find [Emirati] drivers and to train them, and we were also thinking about building some tracks there.”

Tost believes it is too early to be putting a time frame on when the first Emirati driver will take part in a Formula 1 race.

“It’s always dangerous to talk of 10-year plans,” he said.

For Toro Rosso on Sunday there will be added pressure on Daniel Ricciardo, who will be leaving to join their sister team, the constructors’ champions Red Bull Racing, next season.

The big prizes for the season have been settled with Sebastian Vettel having already wrapped up the drivers’ title , but Ricciardo should get added attention as he prepares to become Vettel’s teammate.

Vettel remains the only driver to have won for Toro Rosso, at the Italian Grand Prix in 2008.

Ricciardo may not emulate that before he departs, but he will be looking to leave on a high, starting tomorrow.

“I really enjoy Yas Marina Circuit, it’s definitely in my top three races,” Ricciardo, 24, said after landing in Abu Dhabi.

“The fact that it’s the only twilight race on the calendar ensures there’s always a great atmosphere.”

Ricciardo’s goal will be to improve on recent performances in Abu Dhabi.

In 2011, driving for the now-defunct Hispania Racing Team, he started 20th on the grid and failed to finish the race after encountering mechanical problems.

Last year, with Toro Rosso, he scored one championship point while finishing 10th.

He will be hoping for an even better finish in his third-to-last race for Toro Rosso.

And he is not the only one who will be enjoying himself.

“We will have 150 guests and we’ve planned a big event,” Tost said.

“For us, it’s like a home grand prix. We have many friends over there and I said to our people that Abu Dhabi will become one of the most important races for us.

“It’s a very beautiful country, very beautiful track. It’s warm, it’s sunny, I’m always looking forward to it.”

akhaled@thenational.ae

Follow us on twitter at @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Sarah Geronimo. Courtesy: FLASH Entertainment

Sarah Geronimo brings her star power to Abu Dhabi this weekend

Ahead of her Abu Dhabi concert on Thursday night, we take a look at the Filipina singer Sarah Geronimo’s extraordinary career.

 Fatema holds a picture of her son Nurul Karim as she poses for a photograph in front of her slum house in Savar. Fatema lost her son Nurul Karim and her daughter Arifa, who were working on the fifth floor of Rana Plaza when it collapsed on April 24, 2013. All photos Andrew Biraj / Reuters

These women know the real price of cheap high street fashion

Survivors of the world's worst garment factory accident, struggle to rebuild their lives from the rubble of the Rana Plaza collapse as Bangladesh prepares to mark the first anniversary of the disaster.

 Visitors look at the medieval inventor Al Jazari’s water-powered Elephant Clock. The clock is on show at the 1001 Inventions exhibition at Sharjah Expo Centre. Photos Antonie Robertson / The National

1001 Inventions: in praise of Islam’s gifts to the world

Down the centuries, from camera obscura to designing a sail that allowed early seafarers to tack into the wind, Muslim scientists have made many significant contributions to science. Rym Ghazal and Asmaa Al Hameli visit an exhibition in Sharjah that celebrates those contributions

 Mumbai Indians fans cheer they team on the opening match between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2014 at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Earn cash back with the IPL cricket in the UAE

Dunia finance promotion allows cricket lovers to earn up to 6 per cent unlimited cash back on any spending they make on a day when an IPL match is played in the UAE.

 Iranian workers at the Iran Khodro auto plant in Tehran on March 18. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

Iran’s love of cars survives devastating sanctions

Sanctions and energy subsidy reductions might have hurt the Iranian automotive industry. But car makers at one factory are still optimistic, Yeganeh Salehi reports from Tehran

 This comparison image shown on Reddit annotated the objects with vehicles from the movies.

Disney confirms that Star Wars: Episode 7 is filming in Abu Dhabi desert

Disney yesterday confirmed that the filming of Star Wars: Episode 7 is taking place in the desert in Abu Dhabi.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National