It’s been a long time since we talked with Yas Marina Circuit’s Chief Executive Officer, Al Tareq Al Ameri. This time he opens up about the sport’s image and what changes might that bring to the fans and professionals.
Has the way you’re preparing for the 2017 Formula 1 GP changed compared to previous years?
We have a stable rolling 12-month planning programme that sits under a long-term and ongoing strategy to position Abu Dhabi as a world-class, leading Grand Prix. As promoters, we work tirelessly to update and improve the overall Abu Dhabi Grand Prix fan experience and it’s important that after every Grand Prix we wrap-up with a comprehensive understanding of what worked well and where we can innovate. Customers’ tastes and expectations change over time and we need to always present a relevant and up-to-date, thrilling experience.
And are you happy with the new management of Formula 1? What are you most looking forward to in terms of changes by Liberty Media in the sport?
Our relationship with Formula 1 management has always been very strong and this will continue to be the case as we go forward. We share the same vision and ambition for the event here in Abu Dhabi and our approach has always been strategic and highly collaborative; this aids strong and effective partnerships. Of course, new areas of discussion will arise and of most interest to us is how Formula 1 will embrace social media; this aspect has always been key to us and it is something we have used effectively to build the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to date. For example, in 2016 we trended number one globally on Twitter on race day, generating seven billion impressions, and owned the global conversation for a full three hours.
The gap between winning and losing is so fine in this sport that there really is nothing in the world that compares.
What would be your personal advice for people promoting Formula 1 in the United States – how could we all make it more popular there?
Well, first of all, I would say there is a lot we can learn from the United States, from what we know Bobby Epstein and his team are doing a great job, with 2016 being the best yet possibly. But the potential for the sport across North America is huge. Success for the US will be what it is for us, a case of working hard to fully understand the customer and delivering to them an exceptional, differentiated and relevant experience. Use of digital technologies and social media to spread the word and enhance the experience is a must, of course.
The Yas Marina circuit is a gem of a racing venue – how do you keep your team motivated and control the quality of their work?
It’s a privilege to work here, we are entrusted with one of the most exciting venues in the region if not in the world, and that is a great starting point for me as well as the whole team. We are busy year-round with more than 500 events a year across our public event, retail and corporate business lines. We see more than 200,000 visits a year for our health and fitness-related activity alone. The growth in our business and the ambition we all share for what is possible here keeps us all motivated. We have a clear idea of what success looks like too. And lastly, we like working with each other, we want to succeed together at a high level and this ensures quality delivery throughout.
Where would you like Formula 1 to go next? Asia, the Americas, any other place, city or country?
Does it have to be a country or a place? New frontiers should include untapped audiences and under-explored digital territories and social occasions!
What are you personally most excited about in the racing itself?
For me, the attraction of Formula 1 and the racing is in the blend of pioneering, bleeding-edge technology and the human struggle for excellence and success. The gap between winning and losing is so fine in this sport that there really is nothing in the world that compares. This is what makes it such a compelling and exciting experience for me. It’s a human story in a hi-tech world.