Published November 4, 2013
The Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix has been one of the most successful in the series' global expansion.
There was nothing to suggest in '09, the year of the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, that the Gulf nation’s F1 race "would become one of the most successful of the series’ global expansion, which had begun with the Malaysian Grand Prix a decade earlier," according to Brad Spurgeon of the N.Y. TIMES. It "was a track set in the desert, with a race run from sunlight to darkness, in a country with very little motor sport tradition and no previous interest in Formula One." But since that first race, the Abu Dhabi event "has grown more successful year by year, while many of the new venues that had greater apparent potential have either faded or been dropped from the calendar." Some of the new races "have been great successes" -- such as the one in Austin, Texas, first run last year. And the one in Singapore, which began in '08 as the series’ first night race, and which, like Abu Dhabi, "is a country with little racing tradition."
Abu Dhabi "has succeeded for some of the same reasons that Singapore has." Both are "in regions with many European expatriate workers and other well-paid professionals who can attend the race." Both are "relatively easy to get to from surrounding countries." Both "provide simple access to the circuit locally." Unlike so many of the other new circuits, the Yas Marina Circuit "is surrounded by activities for race-goers: the huge Ferrari World theme park next door, a water amusement park, golf courses, the downtown area with many attractions, and even a small, temporary Formula One theme park by the beach, called F1 FanZone, which is free to the public" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/31