From the official confirmation back in early 2007 that it was to stage a round of the F1 World Championship from 2009 onwards, Yas Island – home to this weekend's inaugural, season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – has changed so much that it is now barely recognisable anymore.
Lauded as one of the most sophisticated and technologically-advanced motorsport facilities ever built, the Hermann Tilke-designed, 5.55km Yas Marina street circuit began as a 25-kilometre-squared area of land north-east of the mainland, and – incredibly given what it has since become – devoid of any roads, electricity or water supply.
Since then, the circuit, raised and covered grandstands, state-of-the-art hospitality and pit buildings, unique pit-lane exit tunnel [see separate story – click here
], air-conditioned garages, podium, five-star Yas Hotel that straddles the track, drag strip, driving academy and yacht club have all taken shape thanks to the unstinting efforts of a 14,000-strong workforce investing 35 million man hours into the venture. A capacity crowd of 50,000 spectators is expected on race day to witness the day-into-night spectacle, during which drivers will speed along the longest straight in present day F1.
Yas Island is one of the most highly-touted projects within Aldar Properties' current portfolio, and the completion of the Yas Marina Circuit represents phase one of the entire Yas Island development. The ultimate aim is to turn it into a multi-purpose venue boasting theme parks, signature hotels, marinas, golf courses and world-class hotels. Year-round, the circuit will host an extensive programme of leading international and national motor racing series', as well as major entertainment events and corporate activities.
To see the progress of the development in pictures, click here