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):