F1 volunteers in Abu Dhabi
UAE volunteers' team pose at the Yas Marina track in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Supplied photo

Abu Dhabi: The small army of volunteers behind Abu Dhabi’s Formula 1 title-decider on Sunday has earned a thumbs-up from Mohammed Bin Sulayem, President of the Emirates Motorsports Organization (EMSO) and FIA Vice President for Sport.

Ben Sulayem, who was the brain behind formation of the volunteer programme for the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009, said that the motorsport marshals and officials on duty at Yas Marina Circuit are the pride of the UAE.

Nearly 600 volunteers - 30% of them Emiratis - worked round the clock to prepare the stage for the Lewis Hamilton-Max Verstappen showdown in the UAE capital.


They included Mark Robinson, who has been designated as the Best Scrutineer of the Year for 2021 by the FIA, motor sport’s world governing body.

“Mark is a credit to the marshal’s community and an example of what our members bring to the sport,” said Ben Sulayem. “They are a major part of the UAE’s motor sport success story.”

When the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was first held in 2009, half of the volunteers drafted to help run the event had to be brought in from the UK. Ben Sulayem had already launched an intensive marshals’ recruitment and training programme to set up the UAE Motorsport Marshals Club with a five-year aim to build a fully UAE-based group of Emirati and expatriate volunteers to serve the needs of the Grand Prix and UAE motorsport in general.

The target was achieved two years ahead of schedule, by which time Ben Sulayem had also launched the Motorsport Knowledge Institute (MKI) as the EMSO’s dedicated education, training and research division. The MKI has since been awarded Gold level accreditation by the FIA Institute for Motorsport Safety and Sustainability. It has also been appointed as an international training provider (RTP) for both Officials Safety Training and Young Driver Development programmes.

The UAE now has almost 2000 official motorsport volunteers, many of whom travel worldwide to operate at F1 and other racing venues.