The Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix has witnessed many historic moments over the years and this weekend will celebrate one of its own when the race celebrates its 15th anniversary.
Yas Marina Circuit will welcome tens of thousands of fans to F1's season finale, with the festivities starting on Thursday and concluding after Sunday's race. A large workforce has been busy around the clock preparing for one of the pre-eminent events on the UAE's sports calendar, getting the track race ready and preparing the grandstands, fan zones, hospitality spaces, and landscape areas around the venue.
A global television audience of more than 100 million is expected to tune in for the final grand prix of the 2023 season.
Saif Al Noaimi, chief executive officer of Ethara, the event management company behind the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, glances over his shoulder from his office overlooking the race track at a job well done.
“We are ready to go with all the final touches now complete. It’s going to be a unique 15th edition of the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix,” Al Noaimi told The National.
“Last year, we set a record, and this year, we are expecting to exceed those numbers. We’re really excited to put on an amazing experience for customers."
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix set a record attendance of 140,000 across the race weekend 12 months ago. With an expanded grandstand and demand for tickets once again high, that record is expected to be broken once again, despite the fact the drivers' and constructors' titles have long been won by Max Verstappen and Red Bull.
“Fifteen years is a major milestone for us, as is having Etihad Airways as the title sponsor for the Grand Prix’s 15th edition," Al Noaimi said. "The airline is celebrating their 20th year anniversary around this time, so it’s a truly big milestone for us."
In terms of what's in store for fans on the 15th anniversary, Al Noaimi said there would be "some exciting surprises" while highlighting some of the sustainability steps the event has taken.
“We have recently upgraded and replaced all of our track lights at Yas Marina Circuit with a new LED lighting system, which reduces total power use by up to 30 per cent. This will also support our race's unique day-to-night schedule for fans watching here in Abu Dhabi and across the world," Al Noaimi said.
“The new system will also bring an exciting light show, with something special every night of the Abu Dhabi GP weekend, so we're looking forward to giving our attendees some memorable moments. I won't give too much more away for now as we're looking forward to revealing this over the weekend.
“In addition to that, we have the Yasalam After-Race Concerts, four nights of entertainment at Etihad Park with five global acts performing.”
This year's race entertainment will be provided by dance music stars Ava Max and DJ Tiesto on Thursday night, RnB singer Chris Brown on Friday evening, and pop star Shania Twain on Saturday.
Following the race on Sunday, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Foo Fighters will close out the weekend.
“What we learnt this year and what our customers realise is the demand for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is at an unprecedented level,” Al Noaimi said.
“We really don’t want people disappointed when they don’t find tickets. This year, in the middle of our campaign we had to add two sections to meet the demands.”