Abu Dhabi companies enjoy a 'perfect wedding' with Ferrari

Team's principal praises support from Mubadala and Etihad

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Scarperia, Italy // It may have been made in Italy, but Abu Dhabi has played a key role in the F60, the Formula One car that Ferrari hopes will keep it the sport's leading force. As teams scour the world for support to survive the global financial crisis, the UAE has certainly been an ally to the Italian team. When Felipe Massa took the new car out on the Mugello circuit to test for the first time, Mubadala and Etihad were there. In 2005, the Mubadala Development Company purchased a five per cent stake in Ferrari.

Two years later, it became a sponsor of the Scuderia Ferrari team, the racing division of the Ferrari company. That agreement has been extended until 2010 and covers Abu Dhabi's Grand Prix races in 2009 and 2010 on Yas Island. The national airline, Etihad Airways, signed a three-year deal with Ferrari last year and Stefano Domenicali, the team's principal, says that backing is vital to the future, not just for the team, but the sport itself.

He has called the link-up with the Abu Dhabi partners a "perfect wedding". "The Middle East is an important market for us and we are pleased with the support from Mubadala and Etihad," he said. "We want important partners who can share our values, but stay with us, and are partners for a very long time." Yesterday, he added: "What this sport needs now is great stability and to make clear which direction and future programmes it will take, because those who invest in Formula One need to know where Formula One is heading.

"We have sponsors, who have been with us for a long time and who believe in racing, but 2009 will be a dense year in terms of sport and politics." akhan@thenational.ae