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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 :


The Mechanics taking the cars to the FIA Weigh Bridge for Scrutiny Post Qualifying :


The Top 3 Finishers posing on Parc Ferme :


The Pole Position Award presented to Lewis Hamilton :


My Favourite place!


We made our way back to the Suite and the time of Kimi Raikkonen visiting the guests there was nearing!

Some great artwork of the Iceman :


The Iceman Kimi Raikkonen is in the House!


Kimi Raikkonen Interview ( Shot with Nikon B700 ) :




Shot with the Samsung Note 9 :




Raikkonen left to return to the comfort of the Team Building while we prepared to see the start of the Formula 2 Feature Race. 

Nicolas Latifi got taken out at the start, his car badly damaged. Indian Racer Arjun Maini was the driver that drove into him unfortunately.


Safety Car Period in F2 Feature Race ( Video Link ) :




F2 Feature Race Restart ( Video Link ) :




F2 Feature Race Pit Stop ( shot with Nikon B700 ) :




Shot with the Samsung Note 9 :




I made my way to the shared Hospitality Area as the Suite shut for the night and there were some great sights to behold

The Yas Viceroy Hotel..glittering in the Night sky :


Veg Panini anyone?


Time to head back..what an amazing sight to behold :


It was a great Saturday Experience at the Yas Marina Circuit and hopes of a strong end to the season by the Ferrari duo was high. I made my way back to Dubai thankful for the opportunity and privilege of being a guest of Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team. 

Sunday Experience to follow soon...

Paddock Club Diaries - 2018 Abu Dhabi GP - Day 1

Kimi Raikkonen said Farewell to the Scuderia Ferrari F1 Team at the end of 2018 as he headed to Sauber F1 Team up until 2020. The news broke out in September and there was enough time to plan for being at the final race of the Iceman with the team. 

I was at Abu Dhabi when Kimi did his final race with Lotus F1 and would repeat the feat again. Here is a quick look at how the Friday experience panned out.

The Race Passes for the weekend :


Enroute to the Circuit. I was staying in Dubai, so the drive to Abu Dhabi was about 90 minutes :


The best way of entry into the circuit is through the Yas Viceroy Hotel and then through the Water Taxi service which drops you near the tunnel which goes under the circuit to the Paddock area :


2 Cars from the Pirelli Hot Laps experience. A man spent 25000 GBP for a Hot Laps Experience with Max Verstappen on Thursday! Wow!


The Stands quite empty on a Friday Afternoon :


The Ferrari F1 Suite with a slightly different layout, this one was Air Conditioned and thankfully so :


The first order of the day was Free Practice 1.


Red Bull Racing Team practicing Pit Stops ( Video Link ) :




The Pit Walls busy during FP1 :