When visiting Abu Dhabi for the Grand Prix announcement last weekend, I couldn't help but recall a column I wrote in Autosport magazine in May 2004. At the time we were about to go to Monaco, so in the story I extolled my love of street circuits. We had also recently been to the first Bahrain GP, and while the event was adjudged a success, I felt it had been a waste of an opportunity to recreate some Monaco magic.
The inaugural Shanghai event was coming up, and Istanbul was already scheduled for 2005. And just like Bahrain, both were going to be run at tracks built miles from anywhere, on what had previously been empty sites. Like Monaco, all three cities were surrounded by water, so why hadn't any of them opted for a street circuit, rather than something so far from the centre?
This is some of what I had to say: 'Everybody who went to Bahrain last month agreed that the circuit was impressive. Where just 18 months before you would have seen a barren landscape, there was now a magnificent motor sport facility. Hermann Tilke had again hit the mark.