Q & A with Abu Dhabi's Richard Cregan

Formula 1 heads to a new venue for the final race of the season, for an event that promises to be as spectacular as the new Yas Marina circuit

Q & A with Abu Dhabi's Richard Cregan

AUTOSPORT caught up with Abu Dhabi Grand Prix boss Richard Cregan ahead of the unique season finale.

Q. What can the F1 teams expect when they come here?

Richard Cregan: "Well, we'll certainly look after them, that's for sure. We'll make sure they've everything they need to do their job properly. That's the most important thing. There's a great challenge ahead of them in terms of technical set up, balance, aero, mechanical grip, braking. It will be quite an interesting circuit."

Q. Is there pressure on to deliver?

RC: "You always have to aim beyond the goalposts, that's what you are trying to do all the time. What all the stakeholders have delivered here is something amazing. If you consider it's only been in production for two and a half years, it's pretty incredible this has been delivered.

"Pressure and expectation are high, so the most important thing for us is we deliver and we meet those expectations that have been created. But I have to say the most important thing is everybody leaves here on a Sunday night wanting to come back having had an enjoyable experience, and then we will know it's worked."

Q. What elements of the track you are most proud of?

RC: "There are a lot of things that we've already been talking about the last couple of months: the pitlane exit is a tunnel, the covered grandstands, the hotel, the run-off area under one of the stands.

"The other thing that is quite interesting is that you can see the elevation changes of the circuit, which is difficult to describe to anybody. It's only when you experience it. When you come over turn three and four and you can see down to the North complex, it is absolutely stunning.

"The great thing is there are those features. The fact it has the marina, the Yas Hotel, they are just amazing. We've managed to combine some traditional features of having, for example the marina and hotel, yet we've managed to create our own special features, so there is a great combination there, and that is what makes it so special."

Q. How nervous are you of the feedback?

RC: "For myself, it's a relatively new side of the fence. From the past, what we would look for in a circuit as a team, is always to make sure you get what the people say they will deliver.

"Our view has always been, let's go out there, let's create a circuit and let's deliver it. Let's not try to hype it, and let's see what the feedback is, and hopefully we have exceeded expectation.

"But we are not going out there hammering it home we are creating the best circuit, that we're doing this, we're doing that. That's not the message we want to send out. We want to make sure the feedback we get reflects the work that has gone into and the thought behind it.

"I'm confident at this stage there will be good feedback in terms of the circuit itself. My big concern at the moment is to make sure public expectation is met, that we look after people and that they leave and want to come back."

Q. Any concerns about the pitlane exit, or the tightness of the tunnel?

RC: "I think they (the drivers) are going to take it as a challenge, rather than a complaint. From the beginning we looked at where the pit exit line would be.

"Charlie [Whiting] has had a look through it, and obviously he has been following it in terms of plans which were shared with him a long time ago. But when he came here and had a look at it, he was quite happy to put it just before the tunnel, so he's confident and we're confident.

"Obviously, Friday evening will be interesting when we listen to the drivers' briefing, but we're happy enough it will be fine and safe, which is the most important thing.

"We have a strategy for car recovery in there which we've been working on for quite a while, and we've been doing a bit of practice on it as well. Like any good feature, there's always an element of excitement and risk about it, so we'll see on the day."

Q. At its peak, what were the most number of people working on the track at any one time?

RC: "I think we hit 14,600 people. For the island itself it was up to 44-46,000 because of all the different projects."

Q. What's different for the fans here?

RC: "The big thing here is the amount of track you see from virtually anywhere you sit, up to 30%. That's the most stunning part. The second thing is the grandstands here are covered, and the services that are available.

"The philosophy has been very, very clear. It was not to cram the people in and have income as an objective. We were very much focused on making sure people had a good view of the track, that they were comfortable and had good value for money.

"That's the thing we've hit quite well, and we're hoping the feedback from the people will justify that."

Q. Are the teams getting something here they don't get elsewhere?

RC: "If you look at the team buildings I think they're going to be quite happy with the standard. Aldar has built seven hotels on the island, six outside and the Yas itself, and that is mainly to accommodate teams and people associated with Formula 1.

"Then there are little tweaks like air-conditioned garages, and hopefully that will help everybody to get on and give them the environment they need to do their job. That's really what it's about because once you commit to Formula One, it's a global sport and it has massive exposure.

"For the spectators and for those delivering the event, you try and make their life as comfortable as possible so F1 can be viewed on the track. What's very important to us is that we look at all the grands prix, and each and every one has some character to it, be it the track, the location, the people or whatever.

"We have to develop our characteristics here, and we look at all those tracks, and I personally look at them and think there are great things at every one. We just have to create our own thing here. We can't go around saying we've the greatest track in the world. We don't want to make that claim by any means.

"What we have to do is make sure we put on an excellent event, and we have to work at that, build our credibility, and then we'll see."

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