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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Abu Dhabi is right on track for GP

Philippe Gurdjian is sure that the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will go ahead as scheduled at the end of next year.
Construction on the Grand Prix circuit on Yas Island in February.
Construction on the Grand Prix circuit on Yas Island in February.

Philippe Gurdjian, the man charged with the task of making sure that the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix goes ahead as scheduled at the end of next year, has hit back at critics who claim the track may not be built in time. Gurdjian, the chief executive of the Abu Dhabi Motor Sport Management Company (ADMM), was called in to rescue the grands prix in Malaysia, Spain and then Bahrain when it looked as if they would not hit their deadlines.

There had been whispers by some in motor racing that the lack of news regarding the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix confirmed that there were delays on the development of the track on Yas Island. But Gurdjian was unconcerned. He has the target date of Nov 15 2009, fully transfixed in his mind. Attempting to allay fears that the track is falling behind schedule, Gurdjian said: "I don't listen at all to what people say. We will soon be ready to answer questions to all the people who want know about this project."

Gurdjian, who stepped down from being in charge of the Paul Ricard Circuit at Le Castellet near Marseille in France to concentrate on the Abu Dhabi project, added: "We are close to showing what we are doing, but, sorry, I can't give an exact date or time. I am going into detail, to increase the concept, to be more sophisticated, to be more unique. "This takes more time and I am still working with all the team. People will understand when they see it. I am not satisfied and will wait until the last minute to make sure it is right; I am a perfectionist. I will show the world what you can do when you are creative, to bring something special.

"We will not show it until I am satisfied." Having been chosen as the final race on next year's calendar, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix had the perfect stage to make a world impact. And Gurdjian believed the allocated slot was the ideal time to showcase all that Abu Dhabi and the UAE had to offer. He also had little sympathy for tracks that have not updated their facilities to compete with the new circuits on the world stage.

That is one of the main reasons why the British Grand Prix is being moved in 2010 to Donington Park, ending Silverstone's 22-year stranglehold on staging the prestigious event. But Gurdjian said: "People talk about stories [of tracks like Silverstone], but they change and we move on; that is life. "If you don't improve the circuit every year then it's not very good for you. I am not surprised about what happened with Silverstone.

"For me, there are only three grands prix in Europe that are working well. Barcelona, Monaco, because it is very specific, and Budapest. "All the others, for me, do not have the good look they must have to host Formula One in the modern times. You have to move forward. "Abu Dhabi is the biggest and hardest project I have ever done. "What I have discovered with Khaldoon [al Mubarak, chairman of ADMM), and I was impressed by, is that here they are trying to do something all the other countries did not do before.

"It was a challenge for me; how to create a track that is not comparable to any other one. This was my objective and they have real passion to make this work. "I am thinking about this all the time; I don't sleep. The ideas come to me because I don't sleep. Now I have stopped at Paul Ricard, I am focused on Abu Dhabi." Gurdjian said their aim was to provide a perfect finale to the 2009 season. "It is fantastic for Abu Dhabi to be the last one on the calendar," he said. "We want to close it as a big festival for everyone; the teams, the sponsors, the media and the people.

"We can show the world this is the place to come, to bring important people and show them what Abu Dhabi is about. "People have been positive and it's not only a vision as we we want to make this happen. I have spoken many times with Khaldoon about how to increase the project, how to improve it even more. It will have Emirates appeal, a special appeal." akhan@thenational.ae