Formula 1 Management has confirmed that Abu Dhabi will be hosting a Formula 1 Grand Prix from 2009. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, commented, “A Formula 1 Grand Prix is one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events, in the same category as an Olympic Games or World Cup, and is unrivalled in terms of continuous global resonance. That is why this new partnership is such an exciting one for Abu Dhabi and the entire UAE.”
The track is currently being constructed be ALDAR properties and will be deisgned by the renowned Formula 1 track designer, Hermann Tilke. The track will be situated on Yas Island, which is on the east coast of Abu Dhabi and only minutes away from Abu Dhabi’s international airport.
The head of the Bahrain Grand Prix has denied that the second Middle Eastern Grand Prix is bad news. Some people believe that the second Middle East Grand Prix will take some of the prestige away from the Bahrain event, but general manager Martin Whitaker isn’t worried. “A second Formula 1 race will be good for the sport, for the economy of the two countries, and the profile of the Middle Easy on the Formula 1 circuit,” he explained. “It will increase the fan case and awareness of the sport in the entire region.”
Bahrain has had an exclusivity clause in it’s contract stating it is the only region in the Middle East that can host a Formula 1 weekend, however this clause runs out in 2009 – the year that Abu Dhabi will join the calendar. However, it is believed that the Abu Dhabi race will be hosted late in the year, probably September or October, whilst the Bahrain race will be towards the start of the season.
Meanwhile, Bernie Ecclestone also reiterated his desire this weekend to see 20 Formula 1 races by 2009. “At the moment we have five countries waiting to see if we can put a race there,” he expalined. India, Russia Greece and Singapore are the countries believed to be Ecclestone’s favoured countries for new races as Ecclestone tries to redress the balance and ensure more races are run outside of Western Europe. The 2007 calendar has 17 races planned, down from 19 in 2005.