x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

How Yas Marina became a roaring reality

As fans arrived for last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, workers were still adding a final coat of paint to the pit lane behind them.


As fans arrived for last year's inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, behind the scenes workers were still adding a final coat of paint to the pit lane.

Those involved in the race were well aware of what was at stake. Hundreds of millions of people would be watching in every corner of the world. For many, it would be their first sight of Abu Dhabi.

It had all been assembled at breathtaking speed. From the moment the design process began, there were just 30 months to make the F1 circuit a roaring reality.

Richard Cregan, the chief executive of Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management, was the man charged with making it happen.

"There was huge pressure," he said. "We were trying to complete the circuit with Aldar. At the same time we were trying to build an organisation to run the grand prix and trying to organise the grand prix itself. There was a huge amount of work."

Some of that fell to Aldar, which had to deliver the facility. "There are so many things you plan for at the last minute, like track painting and cleaning. We wanted to do it as late as possible because it would look good," Mr Cregan said.

Aldar's Talal al Dhiyebi also felt the pressure. "It wasn't a matter of finishing but of making sure it was perfect," the planning director said.

"It was one of the biggest sporting events Abu Dhabi ever saw. That track was [already] painted but it was tested over and over and it was getting that track into an immaculate condition for Abu Dhabi to really present itself."

Bruno Senna, a driver for the Hispania Racing Team-Cosworth, saw the circuit two months before race day. "The whole racetrack was finished by then and they had plenty of time to finish off the buildings," he said.

"There was sand still behind the pit building and all the other buildings were ready. A few bits and pieces were missing and the next time I came everything was ready. They were doing final painting and the rate of work was really high."

* Eugene Harnan