For more than 11 months, it has been home to the UAE’s local motorsport and health and fitness communities – an open access hub of exciting motor racing as well as a range of cycling, running, yoga, family entertainment and much more.
But now the pit garage doors of Yas Marina Circuit have been closed to the grassroots motor sport teams, the fitness evenings put on hold, and the rental bikes stored away as a new community makes the iconic Circuit their home.
A small army of cleaners, painters, caterers, gardeners, motor racing experts, and logistics managers have taken the Circuit through a whirlwind transformation as it prepares to host the most eagerly-awaited entertainment and sporting weekend of the year – the title-deciding 2016 FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX.
Al Tareq Al Ameri, CEO of Yas Marina Circuit, said: “We are very proud that the Circuit has become home to FIA-accredited championships like the F4 UAE and other race series, as well as a second home to thousands of runners and cyclists every week. But now it’s time for F1®.
“The work that goes on behind the scenes to prepare for race weekend is incredible to be part of. We have honed our logistical operation over the years since our first Grand Prix in 2009 to ensure that spectators get the best possible race weekend experience. This is the fruition of 12 months’ careful planning.”
Over the next two weeks, the Circuit’s famous blue run off areas will take on a deeper hue after a fresh coat of paint. The world famous ‘Yas’ blue colour that adorns the track was chosen as the shade most closely resembling the seas of the Arabian Gulf. Called pantone 321, the colour is unique to Yas Marina Circuit.
A team of six specialist contractors will lay a total of 8,550 litres of paint to ensure the track looks its best. The paint is water-based, which is suitable for Abu Dhabi’s dry conditions, and the team will apply 4,500 litres of ‘Yas blue’ paint, 720 litres of ivory, 1,440 litres of red and 1,440 litres of white paint.
The track’s distinctive white edging is the last part of the painting process. These lines must be painted four times, meaning the painting contractors will have to cover a distance of 26 kilometres, including pit lane lines, applying about 450 litres of white paint.
The white grandstand canopies that have collected dust and sand over the summer months will be back to their gleaming best after repeat sessions with the pressure hose.
The huge landscaped areas that gives Yas Marina Circuit its natural feel are in the final stages of being spruced up with some TLC and a sprinkling of grass seed. A team of gardeners has been working constantly to lay 75 acres of landscaped grass, and plant a total of 715 palm trees and 150,000 flowers in preparation for the event.
Meanwhile, an army of squeegee-toting abseilers are tackling the Yas Viceroy’s world-renowned façade.
As the Circuit itself is brought to its Sunday best, more work is going on behind the scenes to prepare for the sudden arrival of the Formula 1® machine leading up to race weekend on November 24-27.
Huge transporters carrying everything needed to run a GP2 Series and GP3 Series team have already rolled onto Yas Island. The two championships are considered the feeder series for young drivers seeking to be future F1® champions and both will play out title-deciding battles over race weekend.
Meanwhile safety experts will scour the Circuit to ensure crash barriers are intact and correctly placed, the road surface is clean and blemish free, and everything is in place to respond to possible race incidents and medical emergencies.
Other considerations include organising the catering operation for tens of thousands of hungry spectators, preparing corporate facilities to host a raft of high profile sponsors, setting up cameras and audio equipment to capture the action for hundreds of millions of viewers around the world, and drilling thousands of customer service volunteers on how to help visitors get the most out of their F1® experience.
With everything in place to support the 60,000-capacity crowd it will be the turn of the F1® juggernaut to arrive.
The eleven teams consist of a collective ensemble that could fill a small town. Hundreds of hotel rooms must be booked, hire cars sourced, locations found for driver motorhomes, and data links established to provide race engineers with telemetry data. The Circuit will welcome huge articulated team lorries loaded with spare parts and tools, while other vehicles bring in tyres and race fuel.
The task of moving the Formula 1® machine from country to country has also swung into action. The teams’ equipment has arrived from Brazil on six special charter flights, with each flight laden with more than 90 tonnes of Formula 1® gear.
In addition to the airfreight, Abu Dhabi’s Khalifa Port will handle 140 containers filled with extra kit so that the F1®, GP2 and GP3 teams are fully prepared to put on yet another thrilling display of motorsport action.
More than 400 logistics contractors, using 60 forklift trucks at Yas Marina Circuit alone, have coordinated this huge operation – a combined air and sea freight totalling 750 tonnes
An operation months in the making will culminate in what it is sure to be an epic title-deciding season finale. After 20 rounds of the 2016 F1® season, the battle between teammates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton will finally be decided at a Yas Marina Circuit looking its very best.