Video: Why is there no Dubai Grand Prix?

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When Bernie Ecclestone sits down after his dinner with a globe and ticks off countries he’s added to the F1 calendar in the last five years (Bahrain, China, Abu Dhabi, India, Korea) I wonder why he keeps skipping past Dubai?

It’s already setting up its own F1 theme park (see video below) F1-X which will open in 2009. The park overlooks Dubai Autodrome, which held the first rounds of the GP2 Asia series three weeks ago, part of the drive to encourage the development of motor racing in eastern countries that have little history of it.

It’s a wealthy nation and its in just the right time zone to suit European television audiences, something Ecclestone has suddenly become sensitive to. It seems like exactly the kind of venue he is after these days. So why no Grand Prix?

It could well be because the Dubai Autodrome was not built by Ecclestone’s preferred circuit designer Hermann Tilke. Until I looked it up I’d assumed it had been – its layout has the hallmarks of a Tilke venue – but it doesn’t appear on Tilke’s website.

It’s a shame there’s no Grand Prix there because the circuit looks decent as far as modern purpose-built venues go. It’s more of an Istanbul than a Bahrain in that it has fast corners as well as places where drivers can overtake:

I think that photograph was taken while it was being built – but it still looks like a promising track. As these videos from the GP2 Asia races show it has more gradient than you might think (although these races were run on one of the shorter configurations):

GP2 Asia round 1 Dubai Autodrome

GP2 Asia round 2 Dubai Autodrome

Dubai Autodrome – F1-X Theme Park Launch

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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16 comments on “Video: Why is there no Dubai Grand Prix?”

  1. I was going to say that it wasn’t really suitable for F1 (based on my watching of GP2 Asia there), but if they only ran on a shorter configuration then perhaps F1 could go there after all.

    But I think this goes back to something that was talked about recently. Bernie probably doesn’t like the fact that a circuit wasn’t built on his say-so, on his promised (but not definite) plan to host a Formula 1 race there. I bet it rankles with him that they had the sheer audacity to buid their own circuit, whether F1 was going there or not. No position of power for Bernie now, is there? If Dubai have the circuit, built in the knowledge they would be without F1, they don’t need to take any of Bernie’s ridiculous demands, do they?

    Hopefully the circuit organisers have realised that you don’t host F1 if you want to make a profit – having a GP no longer makes good financial business sense, as far as I can see.

  2. Bernie said that Bahraini GP and AbuDhabi (next year) are enough for that area of the world.

  3. He said just Bahrain was enough four years ago. He may come to regret not talking to Abu Dhabi.

  4. Sorry, Dubai – how did I get those two places confused?

  5. And how about Qatar? They’re even putting on a night race for the Moto GP boys.

  6. By the Way, it’s funny to look at it politically… Both Dubai and Abu Dabhi are part of the United Arab Emirates… they have more autonomy than the american states, for example, but still don’t have sovereingty… then, United Arab Emirates Grand Prix would be a more correct name… So, by calling it Abu Dabhi Grand Prix, perhaps there’s a hidden door for a Dubai Grand Prix in the future…

  7. oops, Dhabi… bad spelling of mine…

  8. These Emirates have alot of disposable income. They are all looking to the future without oil. Ironic that they decide to build tracks. I remember an interview with the Sultans of Dubai’s head engineer. This is the guy responsilble for the development in Dubai. You know the islands shaped like palm trees. He flat out said that he is intructed to build this Emirate into the business and financial capitol of the region. But the really amazing thing is that he said that the Sultan had instructed him that Sultan did not want his county to rely on oil dollars. The Emirates have so much money that whatever they build is built to last and the best materials are used in their construction.

    Looking at the theme park’s press release– Did they have to pay F1 for the logo. I am sure they did. Bernie gets the money and does not even need to bring a race to the track–brilliant huh!!

  9. Was it not a member of the Dubai royal family who started up A1GP? Still I am sure Bernie wouldn’t hold a grudge and deny them a GP because of that.

  10. Perhaps Dubai is where my beloved Melbourne GP will end up.

    There, or Russia


  11. I am willing to bet that Dubai will be on the F1 calendar by 2011 or later. I think Bernie is waiting for the Ferrari theme park to get completed. If you observed closely during the GP2 Asia broadcast, you could see all the construction in progress with tonnes of heavy equipment. No one is going to make such huge investments without plans in place.

  12. Dubai doesn’t have a Gp for one simple reason: Sheikh (not Sultan) Mohammed wouldn’t pay Bernie’s fee. The circuit was built to lure an F1 race here, but the price to host a GP was too much for Mo. A1GP was founded to create a need for the Dubai Autodrome after Mo dcide not to pay Bernis for a GP. Then at the first Dubai A1GP race nobody came. I got in free just by turning up, and the place was deserted until the bused in loads of laborers to fill the stands. Sheikh Hasher Maktoum, who founded A1GP, threatened not to come back to Dubai if no fans came; they didn’t, so he didn’t, and shortly sold his interest in what had becaome an embarrassment. Meanwhile Dubai autodrome continues to search for a purpose, and while it is busy, runs at a loss. Union Properties, the owner, is looking to recoup its losses by building thousands of apartments and office buildings on the land around the track. I am a racing fan, but not stupid enough to live next door to a facility that runs 7 days a week. Nobody else who works there is either. And the idea that things are built to last here is laughable. The flats being built in Dubai are falling down when they open. Some places were condemned before anyone could move in. If anyone you know is looking to buy property in Dubai, tell them DON’T! Don’t say you weren’t warned. :D

  13. Tony Rowlstone
    13th April 2008, 11:56

    Dubai Vol

    Spot on, also when they built the track they did not put enough stands around it, this was also a requirement for F1 now they are building flats and apartments l doubt there will be any room to put up more stands, they are also building a multi lane interchange at the entrance, you would not be able to get in or out of the track, that is why nobody goes to it

  14. as dubai vol said, it just isnt a place for F1. Dubai is a great place but has absloutly no orginality. Its like the west, just in the east. With my experince of Bahrain, its nearly as modern as Dubai but stil with a culture. And also a motoracing fantaical history. I mean okay the stands whernt filled up but 28,000 people turned up for the V8 race there which isnt even known in the Middle East… Also when the GP comes the WHOLE nation goes into GP mode (went to the GP this year from the UK), but in Dubai it will just be another event. Thats why in my opinon Bahrain deserves the GP much more. The crown prince is a life long fan and he is the one which built the track and then the whole nation got hooked on F1 and MotoGP.

  15. I wonder why GP2 Asia has a small number of races. It should be ten rounds:-

    Bahrain – Sakhir
    Abu Dhabi – Yas Marina
    Malaysia – Sepang
    Indonesia – Sentul
    Dubai – Dubai Autodrome
    Qatar – Losail
    China – Shanghai
    Korea – Yeongam
    India – Jaypee
    Japan – Suzuka

    Not in that order but still, those races in GP2 Asia would be good enough. Maybe Qatar, Dubai, Malaysia and China should be considered to replace Bahrain for GP2 Asia now.

    1. Forgot Indonesia to be considered.

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