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GP Week : Issue 33
5 Minutes with ... Philippe Gurdjian As the man who oversaw the complete redesign and rebirth of Circuit Paul Ricard, creating in the process one of the world’s most high tech circuits, it is small wonder the Frenchman has been chosen to head up Abu Dhabi’s F1 project. He spoke to WILL BUXTON as the Yas Marina circuit was launched to the world. GPWEEK: How happy are you with the overall design of the track as we see it launched this weekend? PHILIPPE GURDJIAN: I don’t have to be happy – they have to be happy! This is the only consideration, but it’s no problem. This is the situation. I think this track will be something which will honestly be unique in the world, so exclusive that it is interesting because when people are going to come to this circuit they will recognise immediately it is Abu Dhabi. It is not Fuji or Silverstone or Hockenheim. This is interesting because it is a good combination between art and sport. How different is what we see now to what was on the plans when you first arrived in Abu Dhabi? First of all the plan was for two circuits: a street circuit and a permanent circuit. So I decided that it should only be one permanent circuit for one reason: If you want it to be aesthetic, if you want it to be more artistic, more designed, you have to have a permanent track. I tried to work in the comfort and the 20 vision for the spectators. From every grandstand you will have a better view than at any other track in the world. It’s a combination of millions of details, increased comfort, facilities for the media, for the sponsors and the teams, the drivers and for the tourists. It’s why I say, “We will welcome the world.” All the grandstands are covered. This is unique in the world. This is part of increasing comfort for the fans. This is a circuit for the future. I didn’t build this circuit for yesterday. I built it for 2030, 2050. How much of what you learned at Paul Ricard were you able to bring over onto this project? I included in this project many ideas I put on Paul Ricard. There is more technology, more security than at any other facility. Paul Ricard was a little one, but this is a huge one and when you will discover all the facilities it will be something unique. Something you had at Ricard was high levels of safety with a lot of marshalling posts around the track. Is that something you will replicate in Abu Dhabi? You can imagine that I am going to work there now on such details. The problem is very simple. Now you have a view of what it will be. The second thing is now I am working on all the details, but what I saw in Valencia and what I saw in Singapore with the marshals who spent five minutes taking cars from the track… for me this is unacceptable. Looking at Singapore, that set a new standard for the show in F1 races. How much has that night race raised the bar of what you need to achieve in Abu Dhabi? I think this one will be the best in the world, incomparable to another one. First of all you cannot compare this one to another circuit anywhere in the world. This will be exclusive, unique and incomparable. Then, I can say many things… but now we have to build it. This is the most important thing. It’s not too difficult, I just have to do it!