Yas Marina Circuit Chief Executive Officer Al Tareq Al Ameri, the man of the moment, is busy as a bee. He carefully hands over the glistening winner's trophy of the 10th Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and next minute is off to park a golf cart in the premises.
"This is Yas Marina Circuit. There are no big or small jobs here. Everything is important," Al Ameri said before settling down for an interview at his office.
The circuit is pushing boundaries and adapting latest technologies. Al Ameri has an array of screens in his office from which he can monitor every movement on the circuit. "We have live system in place throughout the venue and know exactly where people are - fan zone, grandstand and other areas," he said describing the updates on the screen. "We always thrived to push digital technology and utilise it in the products and service we provide. There is whole lot of facility management system which is being moved into digital space."
He noted that running such blockbuster event comes with challenges. "This is our 10th year and our biggest challenge is to surpass expectations. If we deliver the same experience then our product perception will drop," he said on hosting the only twilight race on F1 calendar.
Talking about things new, the circuit has a stand dedicated to Red Bull's Max Verstappen. "Max is a special case and one of the new stars of Formula One. He will carry the sports forward. We saw a high level of engagement from his fans. We call it Orange grandstand," he said noting the massive following from the Netherlands.
Al Ameri said over the years, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has grown in popularity and customer experience. "Looking at year-on-year sales momentum, in 2009 we had maybe 10 per cent customers from abroad and now we are looking at 65 per cent."
Al Ameri is pleased with the changes witnessed in the sport under new owners - Liberty Media. "The brand now feels new, fresh and trendy. Now we have a partner that understands the value of social media. Liberty is clicking with the young audience through Esport."
Al Ameri said with the 2018 championship being settled, Sunday will see all racers burn rubber. "There is no team strategy now as drivers will go flat out. No one will hold back. There will be no safeguarding of equipment or engines. There will be pure racing. Fernando Alonso will be on the track for last time here. We will also see the last chequered flag in Abu Dhabi. They are moving to a different system from next year. People will experience all this on Sunday."
Al Ameri said appetite for motorsport in Abu Dhabi is on the rise and an Emirati racer in Formula One will happen in coming years. "We do have an appetite. We are opening our new karting facility. We will see a new momentum. It is a long journey. It also depends on unique individual who has the talent and is willing to put the work and needed commitment. Lot of people start at eight years old and have to sacrifice a lot to just to get to that level," he added.
Thrills and frills don't end as there's after-race concert by rock legends Guns N' Roses at du Arena.
By Ashwani Kumar
Copyright © 2019 Khaleej Times. All Rights Reserved.