“FROM ALL THE LANDS ON EARTH THEY COME…”

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Media caravan pitches tent in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi and its majestic landscapes are witness to a long history of tents and caravans and people on the move – which might just be a metaphor for the globetrotting fraternity of Formula 1®.

Journalists, photographers and broadcasters from no fewer than 37 countries have descended upon Yas Marina Circuit – whose magnificent architecture reflects that nomadic past – as Abu Dhabi marks its 10th year as a Grand Prix destination.

Naturally the bulk of the visiting journalists come from F1®’s European heartland. The UK, where the World Championship began 68 years and 996 races ago, supplies no fewer than 60 media representatives.

But recent years have been the ‘German’ era of Formula 1®, with first Michael Schumacher dominating the Drivers’ Championship, claiming seven titles between 1994 and 2004, then Mercedes achieving a historic five double titles – Drivers’ and Constructors’ – for the last five seasons. So, Germany has 35 personnel in the Circuit’s Media Centre this weekend.

Countries with a long F1® tradition like Italy (26 media) and France (21) come next, but will Fernando Alonso’s departure – this is his final race – affect the Spanish numbers, which stand at 17 this year?

Belgium, home to the wonderful Spa-Francorchamps track, Denmark, whose ‘Viking’ Kevin Magnussen is enjoying his best-ever F1® season, and the Netherlands, which will have its own fan area for Max Verstappen in the stands, all have multiple representatives on hand.

Eastern European countries are also conspicuous: perhaps surprisingly, Slovenia with five media people here tops the list, but Azerbaijan – a recent newcomer to the F1® calendar – has four, while other non-traditional names like Bulgaria, Latvia and Serbia & Montenegro are also in the mix.

F1® is nothing if not global, and the inexorable spread of Grand Prix racing is mirrored in the presence of a number of Asian countries. Japan, with its own history of dedication to F1® and one of the world’s great circuits at Suzuka, has 14 journalists and photographers hard at work here, but China and India – briefly a Formula 1® staging-post itself from 2011 to 2013 – are joined by representatives from Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong.

The Americas boast many countries with a proud motor sport tradition, so there are reporters in Abu Dhabi from the United States, Brazil, Argentina and – perhaps surprisingly – Costa Rica.

While Daniel Ricciardo is one of the brightest stars in the current F1® firmament, his native country lags behind some others: there is just one Aussie photographer with us this weekend.

Although both world titles are already decided, and many travellers wearied by a 21-race season might have taken the chance to switch off, the media centre is a full and buzzing place: there will be a total of well over 400 media representatives at Yas Marina Circuit this week.

Clearly the attractions of Abu Dhabi go far beyond the modern tented village of Formula 1®…

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