THE INSIDE TRACK: MANAGING CIRCUIT OPERATIONS DURING THE 2022 #ABUDHABIGP

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Stuart Latham, Circuit Safety Operations Manager takes us behind the scenes at Yas Marina Circuit and gives us an insight into his varied duties across the race weekend

Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi: When the chequered flag is waved, the trophies presented, and crowds depart this weekend’s FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX at Yas Marina Circuit, the unsung heroes behind the scenes who help stage the event will be celebrating a job well done.

Working to ensure the safety of drivers, fans and staff, Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management’s Circuit Safety Manager, Stuart Latham, and his operations team have spent months planning for the three-day event.

So what does that mean in real terms?

“I am responsible for the circuit’s condition, and the safety elements that go with that,” Latham explains. “That includes the barriers, debris fences, and emergency response vehicles such as rescue vehicles and fire attendants. I also co-ordinate the safety response from the circuit’s marshals before the event begins, and ensure marshals have flags and Safety Car boards. Anything safety and medical related comes under my remit.”

A passionate motorsport fan, UK-born Latham has first-hand experience of being on the circuit’s frontline himself; he was a track marshal at the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009.

“I joined Yas Marina Circuit as a Circuit Safety Officer in 2010,” he says. “Prior to that I was a volunteer marshal in the UK at several circuits for nine years. I used to give up my free time to stand on the side of a race track in all weathers including snow, to support the event and be part of the original ‘Orange Army’. I’ve been into F1 since five years old, I remember sitting on my Dad’s knee watching Nigel Mansell win the championship in 1992.”

Latham explains that the intense build-up to race week begins in the first week of November: “It’s when all the pieces of the jigsaw are put together. That’s when the preparation of the circuit takes place, and the track gets dressed for such a high profile event such as the Formula 1 season finale.”

Latham’s responsibilities do not end at circuit safety operations, however. As a veteran of Yas Marina Circuit, he brings significant local knowledge which is used during the race weekend.

“I wear two hats during the F1 race weekend,” he says. “During the early part of the weekend, I am in my Circuit Safety Manager role. I am primarily making sure that the daily deliverables are completed. That includes things that you wouldn’t necessarily think of such as ensuring the circuit is swept, and that ice is delivered to all the marshals to keep them cool throughout the day. As a former marshal, I know that it’s a long, tough job and in the heat, we need to take care of them.

“Later in the morning I then morph into my secondary role of Deputy Clerk of the Course. It’s my job to assist the Clerk who is from Australia, so he’s not as familiar with the circuit. So if there is an incident, I will know which team of marshals to send to it, what is best to do with the car if it needs recovering and where is best for it to go.

“At the end of each day, I then have to switch hats and look to ensure that the circuit is prepared once again for the next day’s action. It’s a juggling act but it’s very rewarding and enjoyable.”

Yas Marina Circuit is host to more than just Formula One each season. As a year-round racing venue, it hosts a number of other national and international race meetings. But Latham explains that nothing is as detailed and time consuming.

“There’s certainly far less external entities to deal with for other race meetings that we have. The main difference between F1 and other events is that we only need one day to prepare all those things, whereas pre-F1, it takes three weeks! There are just more intricacies with Formula 1 such as track maintenance and signage, and TV cabling.”

When you watch this weekend’s thrilling race, remember how one team of passionate individuals contributes to Yas Marina Circuit’s long, enviable reputation for staging F1’s fitting season finale.

ABOUT ADMM

Abu Dhabi Motorsports Management (ADMM), with its head office at Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island, has created unique, world class experiences across Abu Dhabi since 2009.

ADMM have promoted and delivered globally significant events, the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Grand Prix, alongside over 400 events a year across motorsports, health and fitness, entertainment and major corporate conferences. The company also delivers a significant programme of motorsport retail experiences for business and consumer audiences at Yas Marina Circuit across the year. This combined experience means that ADMM has a region-leading team with expertise in event marketing, communications, promotions and project management.

Such talent firmly positions ADMM as a leader in sports management. The company is now seeking to diversify into activities and strategic ventures beyond Yas Marina Circuit in order to build towards a broader long-term vision aligned with its partners and stakeholders in Abu Dhabi.

ABOUT YAS MARINA CIRCUIT

Yas Marina Circuit is the United Arab Emirates’ most exciting sporting and entertainment multi-purpose venue.  Located on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, the circuit is home to the annual FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX and much more.  In addition to the extensive year-round program of professional and grassroots motorsport events and experiences including Drag and Yas Track Nights, the circuit has emerged as a thriving hub for entertainment and community events in the UAE.

As the region’s most technologically advanced facility, the circuit is also a leading MICE venue, regularly hosting a diverse range of corporate meetings, conferences and events.  Whether you want to experience the thrill of karting at our Kartzone, driving an Aston Martin GT4 at over 200km/hour on an F1 circuit, work towards your racing license at the Yas Racing School, get fit at TrainYas, participate in one of our many sporting events, or simply catch up with friends at Yas Central, Yas Marina Circuit truly is The Meeting Place of Champions.