No-one here in on Yas Island this weekend is left in any doubt about the relationship between Ferrari and Abu Dhabi. The team has Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi investment vehicle, as one of its significant partners and the gigantic Ferrari World theme park dominates the skyline next to the circuit. The TV pictures tell a story of a track virtually owned by Ferrari.
All of Ferrari’s top brass are here too; president Luca di Montezemolo is here along with Piero Ferrari, Enzo’s son and John Elkann, the nephew of FIAT patriarch Gianni Agnelli.
But on track it has been a very disappointing weekend for the team. In qualifying Giancarlo Fischella ended up last, while even Kimi Raikkonen could not manage better than 11th place. The team stopped development on this car back in July, to focus on next year’s car and although Raikkonen performed heroics with it with four consecutive podiums from Hungary to Italy, the lack of pace caught them out here despite having KERS, which is worth around 4/10ths of a second per lap here.
Ferrari World is due to open in August 2010 and will be the largest indoor theme park on the planet. The core feature is the world’s fastest rollercoaster, which will hit speeds of 220km/h and the acceleration of 0-100km/h in 2.5 seconds gives passengers an impression of the acceleration of an F1 car. The whole place is the size of 11 football pitches.
There are 20 attractions inside, including a driving simulator like the one Ferrari have in their factory, electric cars for kids and an interactive exhibit where people can walk through a huge V12 engine and look at the inside of the pistons and the cylinders.
A nice little detail is that the restaurant inside is based on the menu at the Montana restarurant in Maranello, run by Michael Schumacher’s second mother, Rosella. His favourite tagliatelle dish is on the menu and Rosella is coming out next year to train the staff. It’s a little bit of Italy in the Middle East.