x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Thousands take a stroll down Abu Dhabi pit lane

Live from Yas Island Several thousand fans have turned out for the opening of the Yas Marina Circuit to the public and walked the length of pit lane.

Fans pack into the pit lane during the first chance for ticket holders to see the track.
Fans pack into the pit lane during the first chance for ticket holders to see the track.

Several thousand fans were given a first-hand view of the Yas Marina Circuit this afternoon when the complex opened to the public for the first time. More than two and a half years after work started on the circuit, it will host its inaugural Grand Prix on Sunday. Formula One cars will take to the track for the first time tomorrow at 1pm, when practice begins. During the traditional Thursday pit lane walk, fans were allowed to roam the length of the pit lane, where teams are continuing their preparations for the weekend's racing, and stroll down the start-finish straight, which will be occupied by the 20 F1 cars come Sunday afternoon. Many said they would remain on the circuit until tonight's concert by the American singer Beyonce. Mike Thomas, 63, a British civil engineering consultant living in Belgrade attending his first Grand Prix, said: "I used to live in Abu Dhabi so it was a good reason to come back, to see the whole spectacle of the whole development of Yas Marina. "I think it is tremendous for Abu Dhabi to increase its exposure on the international sporting calendar." Claudia Schaeli, 37, a Swiss national living in Dubai, took the opportunity to pose for a photo close to the spot where the last driver will line up for the race - the first she has ever attended. The photographer, her husband Peter, 42, an Emirates Airline employee, said: "It is amazing. This is great for Abu Dhabi and great for the country. Most people we know have been to Dubai but not Abu Dhabi. This will give them a different idea."

rhughes@thenational.ae