New Formula One trophies inspired by the “speed, grace and beauty” of the UAE’s national bird have been unveiled ahead of Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The design for the first, second, third place and Constructors’ Championship trophies features a saqr falcon.
Initially devised in-house at race sponsors Adnoc (Abu Dhabi National Oil Company), the trophies were designed by Richard Fox, a world famous London-based silversmith behind more than 600 trophies in the sport.
"Some designs are really difficult to get out, but this one just flowed. It flew, if you like,” said Mr Fox.
“I have spoken to people who think it is the best trophy this year, if not forever. I’m so pleased with it, I’m overjoyed.”
Alex Brown, vice president of brand management at Adnoc, which is sponsoring the event for the first time this year, said saqrs are powerful and precise, making the bird a perfect symbol for a Formula One trophy.
“We are proud to have redesigned the Abu Dhabi GP trophies,” he said.
“The original trophy hadn’t fundamentally changed in the last 10 years. And we felt there was an opportunity to pay tribute to the UAE’s national bird, which also obviously happens to be part our corporate identity,” said Mr Brown.
After settling on the concept, Adnoc then handed over the reins to Mr Fox, who took his inspiration from the movement of the saqr in flight.
“My idea was a bird diving. It’s an abstraction, if you like, of the falcon. It’s diving down at great speed and then that’s surrounded by a vortex of wings, or just air. It’s graceful, powerful and has a great impact,” said Mr Fox.
Mr Fox designed his first Formula One trophy in 1984 at the request of Bernie Ecclestone, the former chief executive of the Formula One group. He also designs the Bahrain, Baku, Belgium race trophies, as well as the end of season Drivers’ Championship.
“Being given the opportunity to have a free hand with this commission I think has allowed me to create one of the best designs I have ever made, if I can say that,” said Mr Fox, who owns Fox Silver.
Saqr is both the Arabic word for falcon and one of the two main species used for hunting in the UAE. The female saqr is larger and more powerful than the male and therefore preferred by hunters.
The birds used to be used for the hunting season before being set free again, but now they are now largely bred and kept in captivity.
In the 1940s, a falcon could be bought for just $30. By the 1960s, the price had increased to around $600. Now, they can fetch tens of thousands of dollars. The average bird fetches between Dh18,000 and Dh55,000, but some are sold for more than Dh500,000.