Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2022: It's all in the planning

Making sure everything at Yas Marina Circuit is ready is a complicated process for paddock logistics manager James Sullivan and his team

James Sullivan oversees deliveries in the Yas pit lane
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Preparation for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is now in the final straight, with thousands of work hours already expended on preparing Yas Marina Circuit for the weekend’s action.

James Sullivan, the circuit’s paddock logistics manager, is just now seeing the results of the many months of planning and due diligence carried out by his team.

His remit covers liaising with race teams, setting up villas and pit garages, and managing all air and sea freight coming in and out of the circuit.

He also has to oversee the track ceremonies such as end-of-season drivers’ photo.

By the time the 26 racing teams arrive in Abu Dhabi, James and his crew will have prepared a total of 277 rooms with more than 3,000 pieces of furniture, fittings or equipment, as well as inspected 65 forklift trucks and programmed more than 200 access cards.

“It’s not an easy task accommodating and setting up such a complex environment in a safe and efficient manner,” he said.

“It’s a non-stop process really, and the preparations begin well in advance of the actual set-up.”

The 47-year-old’s career to date has also included stints as a British F3 crew chief, a spell with Bridgestone Tyres servicing F1 and GP2, as well as a logistics role for Red Bull.

James says his job is to allow race teams to just turn up and, with a few days’ notice, have everything to hand they need in order to run a successful race weekend.

Once on site, officials and participants will take delivery of 4,000kg of dry ice and consume more than 35,000 soft drinks.

James says Yas Marina Circuit is different from other venues as the accommodation for F1 personnel is on site.

“A typical villa set up for a team is to have hospitality and catering space on the ground floor, with a separate suite of private offices for the engineering staff, which, of course, means frosted glass and other special additions to ensure confidentiality.

“On the first floor, alongside rooms for team principals and other senior managers, the drivers will get their own private room, and perhaps an area for their physio or trainer. The roof terraces are typically reserved for team hospitality events and VIP guests.”

Updated: November 18, 2022, 6:04 AM
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