The circuit that will play host to the first ever Formula 1 event in Abu Dhabi is starting to take shape, with work now well underway to create the unique track around Yas Island.
The circuit, the latest creation from renowned designer Hermann Tilke, will see drivers compete in a unique environment for F1 – with part of the circuit being a mix of 'traditional' race track and city circuit around the Yas Island marina.
Running to just over 5.5km a lap, the 20-turn venue will join the likes of the Bahrain International Circuit, Sepang and Shaghai on Tilke's portfolio and the German admitted it was a project like no other he has worked on previously.
“It is very unusual to be given a blank canvas on which to work and the team and I feel incredibly lucky to be part of bringing the first Grand Prix to Abu Dhabi,” he said. “The race track area will combine in a unique way the elements of a modern permanent racing facility, an exclusive marina area and a temporary city course, all embedded in the heart of a new urban development.
“The northern part of Yas Island Circuit, Abu Dhabi will be permanent and house the main grandstand and the paddock area as well as all permanent service buildings. The key feature of the middle section of the track will be a spectacular Marina, specially designed to host mega-yachts of up to 200ft and to provide exclusive views from the yachts to the track. The southern part of the circuit is designed to be a city course leading through an urban development situated at the south-end of the marina. The race track will then be set up temporarily in the middle and the southern part in order to allow a lively year round usage of all marina and residential areas.
“It is always a challenge to have a 'first' in the world of F1, but the Abu Dhabi track will achieve this in many ways including the unique combination of circuits and the proximity of the marina to the track.”
How the circuit will be received when F1 heads to Abu Dhabi for the first time in 2009 remains to be seen but newly crowned champion Kimi Raikkonen was amongst those to admit that he can't wait to compete in the country for the first time.
“It is always exciting to discover new places and a new track for a GP,” the Finn enthused. “As Ferrari is also building a theme park in Abu Dhabi, we will definitely be very happy to go there for a race weekend.
“It is difficult to have an opinion until you have tried the track. I'm sure it will be a very modern track, the facilities will certainly be very good and hopefully the track will allow us as drivers to make an exciting event for the public.”