The F1 Travel Guide : Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is one of the most popular races on the F1 Calendar ( also being the first dusk race ).

Designed by the legendary circuit designer Hermann Tilke, it has been the season-ending race ( but for 3 years ) with Lewis Hamilton being the most successful driver here.

Who can forget the nail-biting finish in 2010, when Fernando Alonso failed to overtake Vitaly Petrov which let Sebastian Vettel win his maiden Championship or the Drama that unfolded between Lewis Hamilton & Nico Rosberg in 2014 and 2016 when the title fight went right down to the wire! 

Who can forget Kimi Raikkonen's win at the circuit in 2012 ( after his return to F1 ) which featured those famous radio communications: "Just leave me alone, I know what I am doing" & "Yes Yes Yes I am doing it all the time, you don't have to remind me every 10 seconds!" or those horrendous crashes between Rosberg & Karthikeyan in 2012 and Hulkenberg & Grosjean in 2018. 

The circuit is also a venue for goodbyes..be it for Drivers leaving a team or F1 personnel switching to another employer or taking retirement from the sport altogether. It is also the place when everyone wishes each other a restful winter break and drivers make a resolve to return stronger for the next season. 

I still remember those weekends of 2013 and 2018, the two occasions on which I was present at the track. 



My experience from 2018 is shared here :

https://tech-know-crat.posthaven.com/a-gallery-of-memories-part-17

https://tech-know-crat.posthaven.com/paddock-club-diaries-2018-abu-dhabi-gp-day-1

https://tech-know-crat.posthaven.com/paddock-club-diaries-2018-abu-dhabi-gp-day-2

https://tech-know-crat.posthaven.com/paddock-club-diaries-2018-abu-dhabi-gp-day-3



The Circuit Layout :



Official Website :

https://www.yasmarinacircuit.com/



Location :

The Circuit is located on Yas Island, a 30-minute drive from Abu Dhabi city centre. It is easily accessible from Dubai as well. There are multiple exits offering access to the island from the highway connecting Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The island is home to several hotels, a water park and the iconic Ferrari World! Its a place bustling with activity all over the weekend and sees a lot of visitors on normal days as well! The island, built-in 2006 has infused a major boost to an already thriving economy of the country. Etihad Airways, the national carrier of UAE is the title sponsor for the race.



Closest Airports :

Abu Dhabi International Airport ( AUH ) is the nearest airport to the circuit and one of the biggest international hubs in the Middle East offering connections to all parts of the world! Its also home to the National carrier of the UAE Etihad Airways.

Dubai International Airport ( DXB ) which is less than 100 km from Yas Island cannot be discounted either. Home to one of the largest airlines in the world, Emirates, its the busiest airport in the Middle East ( and 5th in the world ). All the airlines of the world fly to Dubai. It is also a major hub for Emirates' Codeshare partner Qantas Airways.

Emirates is the airline of choice for me - excellent connections worldwide, a modern fleet of aircraft & fantastic services onboard. Emirates owned Low-Cost Carrier FlyDubai which offers connections to Africa, Central Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and some parts of Europe also has Dubai as its hub of operations. 


My Emirates Flight Experience ( latest ) from Mumbai to Dubai is shared here :




Where to Stay :

There are a lot of options over a race weekend. If budget is not an issue, then its best to opt for a Hotel on Yas Island. There is always a premium to be paid over the weekend, most of them non-refundable rates. Those with even deeper pockets can stay at the unique Yas Viceroy Hotel which is within the circuit, overlooking a lot of sections of the track! There are also a few Airbnb apartments in the vicinity of the Island but they tend to sell out quickly. 

Abu Dhabi has a lot of hotels from budget to serviced apartments to ultra-luxury accommodation and its best to stay near the city centre which offers multiple options for a commute to the Island. The hotels in the city charge a premium over the weekend as well. 
Airbnb accommodation is available as well. Most of the rates are non-refundable.

Dubai is another great place to stay ( my city of choice ) with options for all pockets and prices comparatively cheaper ( no premium charged ) to those in Abu Dhabi. However, one must be prepared for a 90-minute commute to the circuit each way ( which can be expensive in a taxi ).

There is no camping facility at the track.



Circuit Access :

The Circuit is well connected by road, sea and even air! There are multiple entry points into the circuit and kudos to the Race Organizers for doing a top job every year. 
 
Taxis are plentiful at the circuit and the preferred mode of transport for most! There is also Uber on offer but with surge pricing, flagging down a taxi tends to be cheaper. VIP Guests can make their way to the Yas Viceroy Hotel Entrance and then walk down to a water taxi which takes the guests across to a Paddock Club / Paddock Access gate, the journey from the Hotel to the Access Gate takes about 20 minutes. 
Most hotels on the Yas Island offer free circuit shuttles to the main circuit entrance, so one can utilize those shuttles if they have friends staying on the island. There is another access via Ferrari World, one can walk or hop onto a circuit shuttle to enter the circuit.
Do note that there can be long queues every evening post the sessions/concerts so it makes sense to use the circuit shuttle to go further away from the circuit to take cabs back to the city. 

I stay in Dubai and use a taxi service to one of the Yas Island Hotels where my friends stay over the weekend ( the commute from Dubai takes about 90 minutes ). We then use a Complimentary Shuttle provided by the Hotel which drops us at the Main Entrance, it is a short walk to the Paddock Club from thereon ( using tunnel access under the circuit ).

Those who choose a car hire can purchase trackside parking ( which is limited in number ) or park at the Yas Mall and get on a circuit shuttle from there. There are multiple car hire options at both airports and cities.

Buses are the cheapest mode of transport for the weekend. Bus Number 190 runs from Abu Dhabi Bus Station ( next to Al Wahda Mall ) to Yas Island. If travelling from Dubai one must use a service from Al Ghubaiba Bus Station to Abu Dhabi and then hop on to the 190 to Yas Island. The commute to Yas Island from Abu Dhabi Bus Station takes about 40 minutes with buses every 20 minutes. 

There are multiple complementary shuttle buses on Yas Island which connects hotels to various attractions, hotels, malls and the various grandstands.

The main shuttles are the Circuit Circular Shuttle and the Yas Courtesy Shuttle. The former runs around Yas Island and through the Yas Marina Circuit. The latter runs within the circuit premises and is available for any ticket holder throughout the weekend. Other shuttle services are the Pit Lane Walk Shuttle, Paddock Club Shuttle and Yas Suite Shuttle. 

Details about the Various Shuttle Buses are shared here :



There is also another service called the Yas Express, a shuttle that gets you around Yas Island. 

More Details shared here :



These buses tend to get jam-packed in the evenings as the fans make their way to the concert arena ( or their way home ). It is advisable to walk ( if the distance isn't too long ) under such circumstances.

High fliers also have the option to book Helicopter Transfers, to and fro from the circuit!



F1 Village, Fan Zones :

The F1 Village, situated behind the Main Grandstand is one of the best on the F1 calendar. There are many merchandising and food outlets along with a few stores selling Official Circuit Merchandise as well. The Official F1 Store is well stocked and one of the largest. 
There are makeshift stages for performances by local artists throughout the day, Circuit Mascots strutting their stuff with volunteers distributing circuit guides, Race Programmes & Protective Headsets. Show cars on display by companies like McLaren, Renault and Mercedes make this village a must-visit!
Competitions such as the Pit Stop Challenge, Batak Challenge and the Simulator faceoff run throughout the weekend. The winner of the Simulator competition over Friday and Saturday wins couple passes for the Paddock Club for Sunday. 
There are smaller merchandising and food outlets spread over other parts of the circuit as well. Food options are limited but reasonably priced.



Fan Experiences :

3 Day ticket holders are eligible for Pit Lane Walks on Thursdays. VIP Guests, Paddock Club Guests and Celebrities can purchase a Pirelli Hot Laps Experience ( pricing dependent on the type of car and the day ). 
There are concerts on all days i.e. Thursday to Sunday. These are free with a valid race ticket for the day but fans need to collect a wristband from the Oasis area for access to the concert. It is a daily exercise for those planning to be at all the concerts!
F1 Experiences, the official hospitality partner of the sport offers fans great upgrades to their existing tickets, from single day Paddock Club passes to guided Paddock Tours, guided Track Truck Tours, guided Podium Visits and Photo-op with the Race Winning Trophy!

The "YasHub" app ( available on iOS & Android ) keeps fans up to date with all that is happening over the weekend. 

It is recommended wearing hats or caps and light clothing ( in adherence to the laws of the land ) since it can get pretty hot during the day. 
Fans cannot bring any food or drink to the circuit and one must be prepared to be screened thoroughly at the circuit entrance gates.  

The Circuit also offers guided tours ( on normal days ), go-karting experiences, track days in Formula cars or other supercars! Details are available on their official website.

Yas Island itself is a must-visit for any traveller to the UAE. The Island is home to 3 world-class parks - the Ferrari World, an indoor theme park run by the Italian brand with its famous Prancing Horse logo on the roof and is situated next to the track. The team also runs a special activity on Thursday, so fans at the park can get a glimpse of the Ferrari F1 Drivers;  the Yas Waterworld, a huge waterpark and the island's newest addition Warner Bros World which is a theme park devoted to the characters of Looney Toons, DC Comics and Hannah-Barbera
Visitors can purchase 2 days-2 parks or 3 days- 3 parks tickets. 
The Marina itself is worth a visit; one can enjoy beautiful sunsets while wining and dining at some of the finest restaurants and cafes dotting the marina. Its also home to many Luxurious yachts, some of which are venues for parties on a race weekend.


The Yas Marina Circuit leaves a lasting impression. It offers so much more than just a normal F1 Race Weekend. I rate this circuit higher than the one in Singapore. 
The island is like a city in itself and one can easily spend more than a week exploring all that it has to offer. I am convinced that this circuit will be a part of the F1 circus for many more years to come! Time to draw up plans for another visit this year!

Paddock Club Diaries - 2018 Abu Dhabi GP - Day 3

The last day of the 2018 F1 Season had finally arrived. The Championships were decided, however there was still a race to be won. Everyone was really excited about the Sunday. The Season ender is really a spectacle to behold. Everyone was looking forward to seeing their families again, enjoying the winter break and spending Christmas and New Year. There were farewells as well with some moving on to greener pastures while some taking a sabbatical from the sport. This would be the last time we would see Fernando Alonso in a F1 Car ( probably ). Marcus Ericsson, Esteban Ocon, Brendan Hartley, Sergei Sirotkin, Stoffel Vandoorne would also not feature on the 2019 grid. Pierre Gasly would race for the last time for Toro Rosso, Charles LeClerc for Sauber & Kimi Raikkonen for Ferrari likewise.  

A lot happened over a Sunday..a lot..time to relive that day!


The Drive to Abu Dhabi :


The F1 Village. A lot has changed since Liberty Media took over...


The Paddock and the Yas Viceroy on a beautiful Sunday Afternoon :


Brother bonding between Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz mascots :


GP3 Race 2 Start ( Video Link ) ( was just in time for it ) :




F2 Sprint Race Formation Lap ( Video Link ) :




The F2 Sprint Race Start was aborted after a car stalled on the grid ( Video Link ) :




F2 Sprint Race Start ( Video Link ) :




Some Photos from the F2 Sprint Race :


The Elaborate Lunch Menu :


Food, food and some Mousse!!


Sebastian Vettel was the driver guest for Sunday and the team principal would follow shortly after.

Sebastian Vettel looking forward to a good race and an even better winter break!


Video Link to the Interview :




Maurizio Arrivabene, the Team Principal joined us shortly after Seb left and he was at his talkative best! Bless him.


Maurizio Arrivabene Interview ( Video Link ) :




My dear friend being honoured for her loyalty and love for the team. She attended 14 Races in 2018!! Quite a feat! 


My Friend and our Do&Co ( the Hospitality partner in F1 ) Host Nil Mas saying goodbye to the World of F1 and heading out to Hospitality at Moto GP. 

Believe me..a lot of tears were shed that day..tears of joy, tears of sadness..


The Accolades distributed, the Thank yous said, it was time to head down to the Pits for a quick visit to the garages before the teams get down to serious business.

Shots from the Final Pit Lane walk :


There were goodbyes between the mechanics as well..Abu Dhabi tends to be an emotional race for fans and personnel alike.


Jack Aitken! 


Final set of Photos with the GoPro Hero 5 from the weekend :


The cars roll out of their respective boxes for sighting laps before the race :


Scuderia Ferrari mechanics lining up as Kimi Rolls out of his box for the final time ( Video Link ) :




The Grid kids make their way through the Pit Lane :


Kimi Raikkonen in a light mood, enjoying some moments with the family before business commences :


Media and guests all engrossed at the grid :


The Drivers gather at the front of the Grid for the National Anthem as well as for meeting the FIA Delegates and Circuit Organizers :


The Iceman putting on his gear, donning the Scuderia Red..one last time :


Will Smith being briefed about the Formation Lap Start procedure :


The Final preps before the Timer runs out for the Formation lap :


Will Smith the man flagging off the cars for the Formation Lap :


Video Link : 




The Mechanics running back to the pits as the cars complete the Formation lap :


The Race Start ( Video Link ) :




Shots from the Race :


Safety Car Period ( Video Link ) :




Race Restart after Safety Car ( Video Link ) :




Max Verstappen Pit Stop during the Race ( Video Link ) :




Kimi Raikkonen suffered a mechanical failure, a complete shutdown on all systems on his car and came to a halt at the start finish straight. The Team ran through some system resets but to no avail. It was a disastrous end to the race, his stint with Ferrari and also left me absolutely gutted..


The Ferrari guests have their eyes affixed on the race proceedings.


I got to meet Steve Robertson, Kimi's Manager since his Formula Days..was an enlightening chat!


The top 3 finishers line up on Parc Ferme one last time in 2018. Lewis Hamilton took victory from Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen. Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso indulged in some doughnut display on the start finish straight after the race.


Presenting to the fans their Podium Finishers of the 2018 Abu Dhabi GP :


The Trophy Presentation :


Time for Champagne..oops..no its Rosewater!  


Photo Op time with the Top 3 finishers!


The Podium Celebrations ( Video Link ) :




The mechanics ready to take the cars out of Parc Ferme :


I said goodbye to my friends and hosts at the Ferrari F1 Suite, a few other goodbyes to mates from the Paddock Club and I headed downstairs to the Paddock for a final walk around before heading home..I was glad to meet more people from the world of Formula 1!


Victoria Verstappen, Max Verstappen's sister :


Tatiana Calderon! So nice to meet her..hope to see her next year at Alfa Romeo!


KIMI RAIKKONEN!! 


Pierre Gasly, all the best with Red Bull in 2019 :


FIA Steward and ex F1 Driver Alex Wurz :


Ex-Real Madrid Footballer and Spanish Footballer Michel Salgado!


Toni Vilander! Always a pleasure to meet him.


Esteban Ocon..hope to see him on the grid in 2020 :


Marcus Ericsson, all the best in your future endeavours :


Sergio Perez, Racing Point Force India F1 Team :


Fernando Alonso, the Matador! We will miss him in 2019.


Minttu Raikkonen! Such a pleasant lady to speak to!


Peter Sauber, the supremo of the Sauber F1 Team :


The Fastest Pit Stop Award being awarded to the boys at Red Bull Racing F1 Team :


Taking in the sights of the F1 Paddock one last time in 2018 :


Good bye Yas Marina and Yas Island...until next time.


It was a great experience being at the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. It wasn't the ideal farewell for Kimi Raikkonen with the car's mechanical failure but nonetheless he had a really decorated career at the Scuderia. He still remains Ferrari's Last Champion!

My loyalties shift to the Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team now and I would like to thank the folks at Scuderia Ferrari from the bottom of my heart for all the love and hospitality showered upon me since the past 5 years. I have made some great friends and the experiences that I carry with me, I shall cherish until my last breath. A big thank you to Edge Global Events for giving me a memorable 2018 and always ensuring a hassle free and professional experience with them. I hope to continue the association going forward. 

This brings me to the end of the Paddock Club Diaries in 2018. 2019 promises to be equally exciting and I can't wait to get back on my travels to the races!

Paddock Club Diaries - 2018 Abu Dhabi GP - Day 2

It was a relatively early start to the morning from Dubai since the Pit Lane Walk on a Saturday is always an interesting affair. Some teams indulge in pit stop practice while some spend time in setting up cars for FP3. The crowd turnout for the first pit lane walk of the day is also pretty low.

Enroute from Dubai :


Shots from the Pit Lane Walk :


Scuderia Ferrari Mechanics warming up and doing their practice pit stops :


Scuderia Ferrari Mechanics warming up ( Video Link ) :




Scuderia Ferrari Team Pit Stop Practice ( Shot with Nikon B700 ) :




Shot with Samsung Note 9 :



Some more shots :


Time to take the GoPro out and indulge in some selfie love :


The Stands and the atmosphere building up for the Qualifying. It was also time for the First Race of the Weekend for the GP3 Series :


GP3 Race 1 Formation Lap ( Video Link ) :




GP3 Race 1 Start ( Video Link ) :




A New Addition to the Hospitality experience in the Paddock Club was the GO Karting Faceoff. The Yas Marina Circuit has a karting track and guests could sign up for a session of karting and have a piece of racing themselves. I finished P5.


I headed back in time for a hearty meal.

The Menu for today :


Lunch, lets dig in :


Photos from FP3 :


Chequered Flag :


Practicing Grid Starts :


Daniel Ricciardo's stricken Red Bull returning to the pits..


Lewis Hamilton was the fastest from Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. I also had the opportunity to be downstairs in the garage at the end of the session and roam the paddock after that.


The Paddock :


I also had the opportunity to meet people from the F1 Fraternity!

Gerhard Berger, ex F1 Driver :


Former Team Principal Flavio Briatore :


Lando Norris, McLaren Renault F1 Reserve Driver :


Reigning F2 Champion George Russell :


The Boss, CEO of Formula One Group :


Rami Raikkonen, Kimi Raikkonen's elder brother :


7 Time Nascar World Champion Jimmie Johnson!


Billy Monger :


I returned to the Paddock Club and it was time to get ready for Qualifying!

Shots from Qualifying :


I spent a lot of time in the Garage and after Q3 had the opportunity to visit Parc Ferme!


Lewis Hamilton grabbed pole from Valtteri Bottas who ensured a front row lockout for Mercedes. Sebastian Vettel was P3 and Kimi Raikkonen P4...not a bad place to start for the Iceman.


The Post Qualifying Interviews underway : 


The Media, Photographers and the FIA Personnel taking up their positions for the Parc Ferme formalities :