Abu Dhabi: Yas Marina Circuit, the venue for Sunday’s season-ending Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, has been hailed by one of the Formula One’s greatest devotees.
Moko, from Senegal, attends most of the 21 races on the F1 calendar and believes that Yas and its environs offer “ultimate luxury”. He is also “excited” that the UAE capital will be hosting a title decider between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton on Sunday.
Moko will be one of 60,000 fans at the sold-out showpiece, but few will match him for colour and charisma.
He wears traditional African dress and copious amounts of jewellery and is on first-name terms with many of the F1 fraternity.
“So far this year, I’ve been to 16 races,” Moko told Gulf News. “It was an interesting season with the dominance of Mercedes between two drivers. That brings an edge to Abu Dhabi.
“I am excited that Abu Dhabi will decide it [the title]. It’s a race at night and has glamour with everything else surrounding it. The [music concerts] entertainment makes it more special.”
Moko was also quick to leap to the defence of F1 over suggestions that it is losing fans because it is too predictable.
“I don’t understand what you mean about popularity,” said the Senegalese, a fervent Ferrari follower since the late 1970s.
“Every two weeks, more than 400 million people watch races. You journalists always come in with the idea of numbers dropping. But having 400 million viewers every two weeks, I don’t know any sport in the world that gets that kind of audience.”
F1 will “never be boring”, Moko maintains, despite a third successive season of domination for world champions Mercedes.
He pointed out that the German team’s hegemony had followed similar periods of sustained success for outfits such as Red Bull and Ferrari “every two or three years”.
“It’s the most wonderful sport in the world with high technology,” he added.
Can the sport be improved, though?
“It’s like your house. You may get a new painting, new plumbing. You have to upgrade. The sport is not dead. Some people just forget what Bernie Ecclestone [the sport’s supremo] has done.”