x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Grand Prix bosses commend Yas circuit

F1 boss lauds Abu Dhabi's commitment, while head of the championship-winning Brawn says capital has set a new standard.

Beyoncé performs at Ferrari World for the opening day of the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Yas Island yesterday.
Beyoncé performs at Ferrari World for the opening day of the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Yas Island yesterday.

ABU DHABI // One thousand and one days after announcing that Abu Dhabi would have its own Grand Prix, the Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone yesterday looked around the new Yas Marina Circuit and stated there would never be a better one.

Back in February 2007, following an F1 "taster" event on the Corniche, Mr Ecclestone declared the city "one of the great places in the world" to host a race, and added it "will go on forever". After more than 184 million man-hours were devoted to the capital's biggest building project so far, Mr Ecclestone delivered his verdict yesterday: nothing will ever surpass the venue. "When I came here earlier this year, I knew there would be a race, I knew they were committed. But I never knew it would be finished like this."

When asked whether any other circuit was looking capable of improving on Abu Dhabi, Mr Ecclestone said: "They are not. I would be happy if they would do a second one." More high praise came from Ross Brawn, the boss of this year's championship winning Brawn GP team: "Abu Dhabi has set a new standard in Formula One. It is absolutely incredible. We haven't been on the track yet so we don't have an opinion there, but the commitment and investment they have shown in terms of facilities is staggering.

"Really, really impressive and something that the Government and country should be extremely proud of." Today marks Abu Dhabi's debut on the F1 calendar. The drivers will have their first chance to see how the track behaves when they and their machines take to the Yas Marina Circuit's new asphalt for the first practice session of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at 1pm. All the F1 aces taking part will go down in history, although the GP2 Series drivers, who have their own practice runs from 10.30am, will technically be the first to drive competitively on the track.

Also among those in praise of the newest kid on the F1 block yesterday was the Williams Grand Prix driver, Nico Rosberg, who also announced his impending departure from the British team. "What is very nice is the enthusiasm all the people have here," he said. "It is quite different to Bahrain, where it still needs to grow in terms of the enthusiasm from the people who live there. Whereas here, it is already very, very big."

Several thousand fans were given their first glimpse of the circuit yesterday afternoon during the traditional pre-weekend pit-lane walk. The event culminated in an evening performance by the American superstar Beyoncé at a concert adjacent to Ferrari World. rhughes@thenational.ae