ABU DHABI // The last of the Grand Prix tickets have been snapped up. The capital's inaugural Formula One event has sold out, seven months after tickets went on sale and a week before the race. Almost 60,000 people are expected at Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday. However, there was some succour for those without entry passes: organisers also revealed that the race would be broadcast live on free-to-air television.
Richard Cregan, the chief executive of Yas Marina Circuit, said in a statement: "We've had an amazing response locally, nationally and internationally and every ticket has been sold." In what was described by Yas Marina Circuit as "a generous show of support", Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), which holds the F1 television rights for the Middle East, has granted Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) the rights to show the Grand Prix live on Abu Dhabi Alriyadiyah 2.
Transmitting in Arabic, the station will also show practice and qualifying sessions, along with the GP2 Asia Series and Porsche Supercup support races. ADMC also owns and publishes The National. "I want to thank the BIC ... for this act of generosity," said Khaldoon al Mubarak, the chairman of Yas Marina Circuit. Tickets ranged in price from Dh1,500 (US$410) for a two-day pass for the support-pit grandstand to Dh2,500 for a three-day pass for the main grandstand. There was an initial 20 per cent discount when they went on sale in late March.
As well as the Grand Prix itself, three-day ticket holders will be able to walk around during the pit lane walkabout on Thursday, see all qualifying and practice sessions as well as the support races, and go to concerts by Beyoncé, Jamiroquai, Kings of Leon and Aerosmith. Even before the sell-out was confirmed, some ticket holders had been trying to make a profit on their purchases. For example, two three-day tickets for the North Grandstand, with a face value of Dh2,200 each, were on sale on a local website yesterday at Dh7,000 for the pair - a 60 per cent markup.
Martin Whitaker, the chief executive of BIC, said the television agreement "underlined" the ties between the two circuits and between the two nations. "It's great we've been able to do this," he said. "We want to make sure Abu Dhabi does a good job in terms of its television coverage because it creates greater awareness of Grand Prix racing in the region." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org