MCLAREN’S Lewis Hamilton triumphed in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as thousands of sporting enthusiasts gathered in the emirate to witness the race.
Vettel developed a flat tyre after starting the final 55-lap Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, resulting in the 24 year-old retiring early from the race for the first time in 20 races.
Having won both previous Grands Prix held at the Yas Marina circuit, it looked as though the German would win again, until the puncture sent his car out of control. Hamilton overtook him to claim the chequered flag.
Hamilton described his performance in the race as “one of my best drives of my career.”
He then dedicated his victory to his mother on her birthday. “It’s my mum’s birthday this weekend,” Hamilton commented “And it’s great to be able to win while she is here.”
Hamilton’s mother was among thousands of sporting fans from around the world who visited the emirate this weekend for the sporting spectacle at the iconic Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Now in its third year, the Etihad Airways Grand Prix has gone from strength-to-strength.
Key to the success of the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix has been the support of United Arab Emirates flag-carrier Etihad Airways.
Headline sponsor of the event since its inauguration in 2009, Etihad - recognised by the World Travel Awards as the World’s Leading Airline in 2010 for the second consecutive year – flies two F1-branded aircraft to destinations across its network.
One of these specially-painted aircraft performed a flyover at the Yas Marina Circuit to open the 2011 event.
The airline recently reiterated its support for the race, signing up to the role of title sponsor for a further four years.
Etihad Airways is a proud sponsor of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
On signing the agreement, James Hogan, Etihad Airways chief executive, said: “We have seen that F1 is a highly effective vehicle, no pun intended, for promoting the values of the Etihad brand and showcasing our home city of Abu Dhabi to a massive global audience.
“The additional four year term also allows us to strengthen our footprint with F1 and leverage our investment in their global platform more strategically.”
As part of the partnership, Etihad will continue to promote the event globally through its various communication channels and marketing programs.
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said: “The Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has been an immense success for Etihad, Abu Dhabi and for Formula One, bringing the airline and destination to an estimate worldwide audience of more than 500 million F1 fans.
“The influx of visitors travelling to Abu Dhabi also brings a direct economic benefit, with over 20,000 people pouring into the UAE for the event, representing tens of millions of dollars for the local tourism industry.”
It has been all change at the iconic Yas Viceroy – which bestrides the Yas Marina Circuit – following recent rebranding of the property.
Viceroy Hotels & Resorts took over management of the hotel – which has previously been recognised as the World’s Leading New Hotel by the World Travel Awards - in October and has rung in the changes ahead of the showpiece Grand Prix, including a new lobby.
Leading international design firm Poltrona Frau Emirates transformed the area by creating inviting clusters of space in which guests can lounge or work in an intimate yet open environment.
The upgraded lobby is complimented with new branding, an expanded greeting area as well as improved concierge facilities to ensure guests a swift and seamless check-in process.
The Hotel has also re-introduced the executive club suites with benefits that include complimentary access to the executive lounge, private check-in and checkout, among other amenities.
“The improvements we have already made since taking over the management of the hotel exemplify our dedication to immediately introducing Viceroy Hotels’ unique service standards to the Yas Viceroy,” said Heiner Werdeling, general manager of Yas Viceroy.
“Over the next 12 months our guests will see both cosmetic and service changes to Yas Viceroy designed to ensure that what is already an architectural icon of Abu Dhabi becomes a standard bearer for hospitality in the region.”
Yas Viceroy is considered one of the leading hotels in the Middle East
Away from the circuit, Emirates Palace played host to Salon Privé – a spectacular Grand Prix launch event - on Thursday 10th and Friday 11th November.
Kicking off a thrilling weekend of world-class F1 racing, Emirates Palace’s pristine white shores will come alive as some of the most eminent and influential figures in the world come together for an evening of glamour and sophistication.
Watching the sunset, guests mingled beneath the stars as famous Parisian DJ Stéphane Pompougnac takes to the decks.
A favourite of the fashion elite, models for Gucci and Yves Saint-Laurent have sashayed down the runway to the sounds of Pompougnac.
With such a celebrated DJ providing the soundtrack to the evening, Salon Privé has been one of the landmark events the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – an exclusive star-studded evening that sets the tone for the weekend ahead.
Emirates Palace general manager, Bugra Berberoglu commented: “Emirates Palace is the icon of Arabian hospitality in Abu Dhabi and we are providing a gorgeous setting at Salon Privé to usher in the weekend of events in style.
“Salon Privé is one of many upcoming events that we have planned at Emirates Palace, providing world-class entertainment for visitors and residents alike.”
The Yas Marina Circuit is one of the main attractions on the iconic 2,500 hectare Yas Island which was developed into a major tourist destination following a $40 billion investment by Abu Dhabi’s property development company Aldar Properties, in a bid to support Abu Dhabi’s economic diversification.
As the only motorsports venue in the world at which all the grandstands are covered, with an enormous capacity of 50,000. The Yas Marina Circuit includes a Driving School Building, a Karting Centre, a Drag Racing Academy and a Business Park.
Two theme parks and a water park is planned for Yas Island in 2013. Ferrari World, which opened in 2010, is currently the largest indoor theme park in the world. There are more than 19 rides and attractions inside Ferrari World, including the world’s fastest rollercoaster which reaches speeds of more than 240km per hour.
The “G-Force Experience” ride, at the heart of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, inside is described as a tower of speed. It launches guests 62 metres into the sky, before plummeting back down to earth.
Other attractions at Ferrari World include a range of restaurants and Italian style cafes, and Ferrari World souvenir shops. The other theme park on Yas Island will be the Middle East’s first Warner Brothers Movie World, a movie theme park.
Last year (2010) saw the opening of the first true links golf course in the region. Meanwhile IKEA’s flagship MENA store has recently opened with over 8,500 home furnishing products spread over a spacious 33,000 square metres. Yas Marina offers entertainment and exciting nightlife, meanwhile the Yas Getaway Park suits those who enjoy the great outdoors. There are also a number of hotels on Yas Island.
The Yas Viceroy (previously Yas Hotel) is the only five star hotel on Yas Island, offering guests 499 stylish and well-appointed rooms & suites, 12 contemporary restaurants & lounges and the magnificent ESPA.
With its distinctive design the property is elegantly balanced on both land and water at the heart of The Yas Marina Circuit. This masterpiece, which is the first hotel in the world to be built directly over a world class Formula 1 race track, has a vibrant color-changing LED grid-shell, making it a distinguishable landmark in Abu Dhabi for miles around.
Development continues across Yas Island, complementing the attractions already welcoming visitors at Aldar’s major leisure and entertainment destination.
Yas Mall, a major retail complex is currently under development and is scheduled for completion in 2013.
Fred Douglas, director of retail leasing at Aldar, said: “The mall is a turning point in the retail market in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
“The design for Yas Mall combines critical commercial success factors from the world’s best retail destinations to help create a destination that re-defines the modern shopping centre in the Middle East,” added Douglas.
According to a recent statement by Aldar: “Yas Mall will feature 235,000 square metres of retail trading area, housing a hypermarket, concept stores, high street and high-end fashion outlets, a multiplex cinema and family entertainment centres, as well as many of the world’s leading retail, restaurant and leisure brands.”
Additional leisure parks and residential developments have also been planned for Yas Island over the next few months.
Meanwhile the Mövenpick Hotel Yas Island - set to open in 2014 – will be the first of three Mövenpick properties set to open on Yas Island following an exclusive development contract that was signed between Aldar Properties Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts.
The first hotel in this agreement will be a 500-room luxury establishment, located in the heart of YAS Island with close proximity to the island’s world-class theme parks including the Ferrari Theme Park, and the Warner Brothers Theme Park.
Yas Island was voted “Middle East’s Leading Tourism Development Project” at World Travel Awards 2011 Middle East Ceremony for its integral role in Abu Dhabi’s burgeoning reputation as the entertainment capital of the region.
Abu Dhabi in sporting drive
Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) recently revealed an 18% increase in UK visitors in 2011 which the tourist board attributes partly to its focus on sports tourism.
The Formula One Grand Prix sells about 50,000 tickets each year and is the biggest event on the calendar for the capital.
ADTA has been selling luxury packages for the F1 race – attracting prices of up to $12,000 per person.
Mubarak Rashed Al Nuaimi, International Promotion Manager, explains: “After hosting the F1 for the third time we are hosting the Volvo Ocean Race in December. Then in January 2012 we have the golfing championships.” He added: “I’m expecting a lot of visitors with these big events”
ADTA is on track for a 10% increase in hotel guests this year, with 1,154,587 visitors to date. A total of 98,461 British travellers arrived in Abu Dhabi for the first nine months of the year.