Preparations for the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, set for the 2009 season, continue apace as construction work on the site of the country's first purpose-built circuit begins to show the layout's first landmark sections.

In a first for Formula One, the Hermann Tilke-designed venue combines a non-permanent section - which resembles a Monaco-style street circuit - with a high-speed permanent section around a marina and state-of-the art stadium section being built as part of the Yas Island development. The distinctive design will allow yachts to berth alongside the track as it wraps itself around the marina, giving the Abu Dhabi race its own unique identity. The track will boast an average speed of 198 km/h, but will also feature three clear overtaking opportunities and a ten-metre change in elevation.

"We are delighted with the way in which construction is progressing, and a number of tasks are already ahead of schedule, including the excavation of the marina and piling work for the pit building," His Excellency Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chairman of Abu Dhabi's Executive Affairs Authority, said.

"By starting with a blank canvas, we have had the luxury of learning from existing grands prix, as well as other major sporting events, to ensure everything we do is best-practice and that the experience we will deliver spectators is unparalleled."

Tilke's team, the group behind other new venues including Bahrain, China and Malaysia, was appointed to develop the 5.6km circuit on the 2,550 hectare natural island by Aldar Properties, which also contracted Cebarco-WCT W.L.L. to build the Yas Island venue.

"The excavation and walling of the marina is well underway, with the size and depth of construction allowing Yas Island Circuit to accommodate more than 150 yachts, including up to 20 yachts in excess of 100ft length and six 200ft-long mega yachts," Aldar CEO Ronald Barrott revealed, ""Activity has been ramped up heavily with more than 15,000 people due to be working on Yas Island throughout 2008."

In addition to the circuit, Yas Island will also feature numerous attractions, including a Ferrari theme park, polo clubs and parkland golf courses. The grand prix will debut on the F1 calendar in 2009, having signed a seven-year deal with Formula One Management. No date has yet been fixed for the first race.



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