There’s always a real buzz in Abu Dhabi around the time of the Grand Prix and whether you’re a fan of Formula One, or not, there’s plenty to see and do.
We have rounded up some of the best ways to get involved in the hype without hotting the grandstands.
If you’re not in the stands at Yas Marina Circuit, the next best place to be is at the F1 FanZone at the West Plaza on the Abu Dhabi Corniche. As well as live broadcasts of the action on the circuit, there is a range of activities that will appeal to F1 fans.
The Dubizzle stand, for example, is offering “F1 Car Wheel Change” as well as simulators that put fans in the driver’s seat of an F1 race car. In the Motion Simulator, visitors will experience the G-forces that drivers experience as they take corners, accelerate and brake. Head to the Batak stands where there’s an interactive performance game that tests reaction time, fitness and flexibility in 60 seconds.
The F1 FanZone is open Friday and Saturday from 4pm to midnight and on Sunday from 5pm to 11pm.
For those more into racy tunes than racing, the Formula One weekend never disappoints. Usually it’s not possible to buy tickets separately to the After-Race Concerts on Yas Island, so head to the Corniche for Beats on the Beach and be spoilt with a line-up of locally based, regional and international stars. The best part is that it’s free.
Hitting the stage tonight are Grammy award-winner Sean Paul, former X Factor Middle East contestant Adham Nabulsi, Arab boy band The 5 and UAE teen sensation Esther Eden. Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram, funk-rock troupe Bull Funk Zoo, hip-hop artist Travis Scott and the winner of the Emerging Talent Competition will perform on Saturday.
Gates open at 6.30pm, but it’s wise to get to the Corniche early to secure a comfortable position and take public transport as the traffic is always a mess. The National’s Arts&Life editor, Saeed Saeed, who is a Beats on the Beach veteran, also recommends making sure your phone is fully charged before you go, in case you get separated from your family and friends (and so you can post pics to social media). “Take a coat too as there can be a cool breeze on the Corniche at night-time,” Saeed advises.
For an adults-only music experience, Mad on Yas Island nightclub has an all-star line-up over the weekend, with Sean Paul and Rita Ora on Friday, Travis Scott on Saturday and Future on Sunday. For information and table reservations, visit www.madonyasisland.com.
Restaurants and bars
If you don’t have grandstand tickets for race weekend, you may still be able to watch some of the racing from one of the restaurants at Yas Viceroy. The most coveted tables will be those outside, so don’t be surprised if they’re already booked by this late stage. You’ll still be able to stand on the terraces, though, between bites. Consider what part of the race you want to see (practice, qualifying, race), as that will determine whether you’ll need a lunch or dinner sitting and the day (see race time box below). It will also reflect in the prices – Sunday will be most expensive. Don’t forget that there’s also other racing, such as GP2 and GP3, throughout the weekend so there’ll barely be a quiet moment. Meal packages start from Dh444 (including taxes and charges). Call the hotel on 02 656 0600 for availability and reservations.
There are more options on the other side of the marina where Stars ‘n’ Bars has live entertainment and no reservations or tickets are necessary. Diablitos is also accepting walk-ins, however rooftop tables will be subject to a minimum spend and maximum allocation of two hours. Iris is offering a buffet brunch each afternoon, along with daily entertainment and a live band.
An F1 Grand Prix, anywhere in the world, is a great opportunity for celebrity-spotting and Abu Dhabi is no exception. The best places are the after-parties and there’s no shortage of them. You won’t catch any of the racing action, but you may be lucky enough to spot one of the drivers.
The biggest and best established of the after-parties is Amber Lounge, which sets up at Yas Links golf club, and, in previous years, has hosted guests such as Lewis Hamilton, Prince Harry, Kylie Minogue and Hugh Grant. Tickets cost from Dh3,030, which includes entry and unlimited drinks. Visit amber-lounge.com for tickets.
The VIP Room has a pop-up club again this year on the third floor of Yas Marina Building 1 (Cipriani), where it will host techno music heavyweight DJ Luciano and socialite Paris Hilton on Friday, Canadian rapper Drake on Saturday and unnamed “celebrity” guests on Sunday night. Reservations can be made by calling 052 881 8888 or by emailing [email protected]viproom-dubai.com.
The Podium Lounge will be held at Rush, the bar that spans the racetrack at Yas Viceroy. It also promises celebrities, drivers and music all night long. General admission is free for women and Dh200 for men, and VIP packages are available. Contact [email protected] or 056 113 4626.
Elsewhere on Yas
If you can’t get trackside, then securing yourself a position on the island, where you can hear the cars and feel the buzz, could be the next best thing. Many Yas Island attractions, such as Yas Beach, Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld have something special organised.
Yas Beach has a pool party with DJs on Friday and Saturday, starting from 1pm, but there’s also a kids’ area for families with inflatables and activities. Call 050 952 2283 for more information.
Ferrari World will be busy as it opens its doors for free this weekend to Grand Prix ticket holders, but F1 drivers have also been known to stop by and try out the rides and test their skills on the simulators. Entry this weekend costs from Dh275 for adults and Dh230 for children under 1.3m tall. Spend Dh20 more and get access to Yas Waterworld as well (valid for the same day). The waterpark will have DJs and special offers on food and drinks during the weekend. Tickets can be bought at the venue or online from ferrariworldabudhabi.com or yaswaterworld.com.
Get Driver Fit
This is the last weekend of the Get Driver Fit free fitness programme, so if you haven’t been making the most of the sessions, now is your last chance to do so. There’s boot camp, yoga, Zumba and boxing classes on the beach.
Alternatively, head to Muscle Beach, an outdoor gym on the Corniche, where a variety of fitness equipment has been assembled, and work out under the supervision of GDF trainers.
Friday, November 25
Practice 1, 1pm to 2pm
Practice 2, 5pm to 6.30pm
Practice 3, 2pm to 3pm