Timeframe: When Formula One cars hit the streets of Abu Dhabi to announce first grand prix

Cars from teams such as Ferrari and McLaren put on a show in the capital for the event

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Formula One fans in the UAE got their first glimpse of what was to come on February 3, 2007, the day Abu Dhabi's first grand prix was unveiled.

The announcement was part of the first Abu Dhabi F1 Festival, which celebrated the launch of the UAE's addition to the F1 tour and the official announcement of the first event to be held in 2009 at Yas Marina Circuit.

Bernie Ecclestone, the top racing class’s chief operating office, took part in the announcement at Emirates Palace alongside several drivers, including Spaniard Fernando Alonso, who drove for McLaren, and Kimi Raikkonen of Finland, who drove for Ferrari.

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed, who was Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi at the time, attended the contract-signing ceremony at the luxurious hotel.

After the ceremony, Sheikh Mohamed spoke highly of bringing the motorsport to Abu Dhabi, saying: “A Formula 1 Grand Prix is one of the world's most prestigious sporting events, in the same category as an Olympic Games or World Cup, and is unrivalled in terms of continuous global resonance.

“That is why this new partnership is such an exciting one for Abu Dhabi and the entire UAE."

The display involved F1 cars driving along the capital's Corniche Road, with both sides of the road cordoned off for safety and fans kept behind railings.

The roaring sounds of the cars was heard across the city, as spectators flocked to get a close look at the highly tuned machines.

Some of the drivers chose to cap off their drive at the end of the road by doing “doughnuts”, spinning the car in circles as the wheels create a friction burn on the road to induce a smoke effect.

Fans would have to wait two years to see the cars on the Yas Marina Circuit, when the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was held. The track was designed by German architect and engineer Hermann Tilke, who also designed tracks including the Circuit of the Americas in Texas.

After the signing, Ecclestone said: “We are delighted to welcome Abu Dhabi into the Formula One family, and look forward to a long and successful partnership.

"Abu Dhabi's hospitality, the genuine warmth of its people, and ever-increasing number of world class facilities, will ensure that its round of the FIA Formula One World Championship is a wonderful addition to the Formula One calendar."

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has since become a permanent fixture on the F1 calendar. Fifteen races have been held on Yas Island to date, with Lewis Hamilton claiming the most wins with five.

The circuit’s most thrilling race took place on December 21, 2021, when Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were vying for the championship. The title was decided in the final few laps, giving Verstappen his first victory, and denying Hamilton his eighth.

Before the 2021 race, F1 and Abu Dhabi extended their agreement by 10 years, ensuring the last race of the season would take place in the UAE capital until 2030.

The next F1 season is due to start on March 2 with the Bahrain Grand Prix and will feature 24 races, ending on December 8 in Abu Dhabi.

Updated: February 09, 2024, 6:02 PM