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Etihad Air flypast just before Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2022 at Yas Marina circuit. Photo: Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has been providing the adrenalin rush to every motorsports enthusiast over the past 14 years. And one of the reasons for the continued growth and the increasing fan base is due to the constant innovation by the organisers of the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The 14 editions have seen four World Drivers’ title decided, including the 2021 championship when Max Verstappen won the title in the last lap at Yas Marina Circuit.

Saif Al Noaimi, CEO, Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management, talks about the memorable past and the plans for this year’s milestone 15th edition. Saif feels the changes to the track and its layout in 2021 was a masterstroke and a value for money spent. The Yas Marina Circuit saw a record 111 overtakings during 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Not sitting on their laurels, the organisers are always innovating and with four races happening in the region this season, the longest in the history of Formula One, Al Noaimi feels their success formula is working.

Overtaking opportunities

“Four championship-deciding races in the last 14 years. In 2022 we saw more overtaking on the track than 2021, a record number of 111 overtakes on the track. We are happy and proud that the new cars are a big change and our track modifications have worked very well,” said Al Noaimi, after the tickets for the 2023 Formula One Etihad Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, to be held on November 24-26, went on sale on Thursday.

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Saif Al Naoimi is hoping for another thrilling race during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, to be held from November 24-26. Image Credit: A.K.S. Satish/Gulf News

“From a track point, we don’t have any immediate plans to make any changes, that’s something that if it’s necessary we will look at, but currently there is no need. The formula is working.”

It is going to be a gruelling task for Max Verstappen to defend his Drivers’ championship crown in a record 24-race season this year. Two new races have been added to the calendar with Las Vegas and Qatar joining Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, to host the opener on February 23-25, from the region.

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Last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix saw an increase in fan base, with 70 per cent of them coming outside the UAE. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Positive move

Al Noaimi sees it as a positive move, which will increase the fan base in the region. As such Abu Dhabi has seen an unprecedented visitations last year, with over 70 per cent of them coming outside the UAE.

“More races in the region creates more fan base, creates more awareness of F1, something that we are happy to see. Excited to see the shifting demographic in F1 as lot more younger audiences are interested in watching the grand prix on television and watching the races in person. We are looking to provide them with a unique experience,” he added.

“We constantly look at innovating. 2022 was unprecedented year where we had 140,000 visitations over the race weekend. We are looking at expanding that number. One thing that we are proud of is in 2022 over 70 per cent of the fans have come outside of the UAE. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has become the platform to showcase Abu Dhabi, show them all that we have to offer, not just Yas Island,” he proudly added.

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Max Verstappen celebrates with the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2022 trophy at Yas Marina Circult. The Dutch will have a tough time to defend this year in a gruelling calendar. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Sustainability initiatives

Abu Dhabi are continuing with their ambitious Sustainability Strategy targets and as a first of the few initiatives, the Yas Marina Circuit track lights have been converted into LED lights.

“There are also a few exciting initiatives that are going to happen in 2023. The first one we are converting all of our track lights to led lights, which requires lot less energy. We are also increasing our reliance on biofuel for our generators across the venue and are investing more on solar energy. Details on few exciting projects in the solar space will be announced soon,” Al Noaimi added.

What is that Al Noaimi will be wishing for in the milestone 15th edition, “Another championship-deciding race,” he concluded.

Auction of classic cars
A news to cheer for collectors of classic race cars and cars. They will be able to lay their hands on the cars with significant heritage as Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be hosting an auction house bonhams during the race weekend.
“This year we are adding the auction house bonhams, where we are going to hold an auction during the Gp weekend at Yas Marina Circuit. There is going to be an opportunity for all attendees to view the unique cars. These are one of a kind cars, classic cars, classic race cars with significant heritage in motorsports. Anybody who’s interested and has a chequebook can participate in the auction,” Al Noaimi told during an interaction with the media after announcing the sale for the tickets for the 2023 grand prix.