x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Lights to illuminate Yas Marina

Bernie Ecclestone defends the decision to turn the Abu Dhabi GP into a day-night race by stating drivers will not be put in danger.

Bernie Ecclestone, the man in charge of Formula One, is excited by the prospect of the first day-night race in Abu Dhabi.
Bernie Ecclestone, the man in charge of Formula One, is excited by the prospect of the first day-night race in Abu Dhabi.

Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One chief, has defended the decision to turn the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix into a day-night race by stating drivers will not be put in danger due to what he describes as the best floodlighting system ever created. Ecclestone believes the spectacle of the season finale concluding as the sun goes down will lead to other races being held at the same time of day.

"Sure, there was a good deal of scepticism when I mooted the idea of the day-into-night race in Abu Dhabi, the first of its kind," Ecclestone told The National. "But people thought about it and realised safety would not be compromised because the floodlighting system is the most amazing anywhere in the world. "People will not fail to be impressed - and the drivers will love it. Their safety, of course, is paramount and that will not be compromised for one second over and above that which they face every race weekend in daylight, rain, sunshine or whatever.

"The floodlights will be on from the start of the race to ensure that there is a seamless transition from daylight to dark. "Neither the drivers or the spectators will notice the difference. It will be quite amazing and a real breakthrough that could catch on all over the world where the time differences make it inconvenient for European fans to see a race without getting up in the middle of the night or at dawn."

The Abu Dhabi race is scheduled to get underway at 5pm and not finish until at least 90 minutes later when darkness descends on the UAE. The solution to any threat of harm to drivers in the dusk at the ground-breaking race is row upon row of floodlights. These are said to be as bright as the sunniest of days but without shadow, giving drivers a view probably even clearer than they would have in the usual start time in the day.

"There will be vertical controlled beams designed specifically to provide a consistent daylight effect as well as removing any shadows or glare at drivers' eye level," addded Ecclestone. "I can't wait to see the finished job. "This should give Abu Dhabi a lead over the rest of the world as a Grand Prix venue that will be state-of-the-art and the result sheer hard work from some very clear thinking. Fans right around the globe will benefit from the experiment."

It will also make sure European television viewers, vast in number, do not suffer the inconvenience of a four-hour time difference from their usual Grand Prix start time and have to skip a late breakfast or early lunch to tune in. Innovation is Ecclestone's mantra when it comes to ensuring that Grand Prix is a show. This is the 78-year-old who converted what was virtually a gentlemen's jolly weekend jaunt in a racing car into a full-blown international spectacle.

Regular global audiences of 500 million and demanding screening schedules has seen countries jostling to pay upwards of US$40m (Dh146,920m) to stage a race of their own. Ecclestone went against traditionalists when he decided that lights, rather than flags, should signal the start of a race and that Grand Prix cars should have a sighting lap ahead of a race. "Some people thought I was completely mad," he said. "But these ideas weren't rocket science and they have been adopted and stayed in place as essential factors in Formula One. It will be the same with floodlit day-night races.

"All we need now to put the icing on the cake is for the championship to go right down to the wire on the last corner of the last lap of the last race in the full glow of floodlights that won't miss a thing. " sports@thenational.ae