The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is a relative newcomer to Formula 1, the first race took place on 1 November 2009. As well as being the first Grand Prix in UAE, it was also the first time any Formula 1 race had been carried out at twilight. Using sophisticated lighting to seamlessly merge from day to night, the race was a roaring success. And it didn’t take long for this magical desert nation to establish itself as one of the world’s premier race spots, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is now one of the most anticipated races on the Formula 1 calendar.
A stunning site
The success of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is due, in no small part, to its jaw-dropping setting and beautifully designed track. The Yas Marina circuit is located on Yas Island. One of the most exclusive destinations in the state, this man-made peninsula is surrounded by the emerald waters of the Persian Gulf.
The track itself is a marvel. One of the longest and most demanding race tracks in Formula 1, the 5.55 kilometre circuit was designed by world-famous architect Hermann Tilke, and runs right along the exclusive Yas Marina, home to numerous, impressive super yachts and their spectacularly glamorous passengers. As it twists and turns along the marina, the track passes underneath the five-star Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi hotel and skirts alongside the 60-metre high Sun Tower, an amazing solar-powered viewing tower exclusively for invited guests, unfortunately.
And the race track is in good company. With the Ferrari Theme Park just next door, Yas Island is a car-lover’s utopia.
Despite being held at the end of the racing season, when temperatures in Abu Dhabi have cooled somewhat, the mercury can still rise to around 30°C. But racegoers at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix are in for a treat. It’s the only circuit in the world to have all of its stands completely covered, so there’s no need to worry about the scorching desert heat.
Beyond the track
If seeing the world’s most talented racing drivers screeching around the track at speeds in excess of 320 km/h isn’t thrilling enough for you, the circuit offers other attractions too.
Why not take to the wheel yourself and test your nerve at the onsite drag racing or off-road driving centres. Or maybe you’d like to emulate the Formula 1 drivers next door? In that case you can take to the asphalt on the circuit’s stat of the art karting track. For those who don’t fair to well, there’s a driving school where you can hone your skills.
For more leisurely pursuits, there is a lot on offer in and around the marina. Of course, Abu Dhabi, the richest state in UAE, has some rather spectacular places to eat and drink. For a taste of traditional Abu Dhabi cuisine, the markets in the city offer an incredible selection of dishes to excite your taste buds.
But if you’d prefer to stay glam, you are here for the Grand Prix after all, Abu Dhabi’s luxury hotel bars and restaurants fit the bill perfectly. As do the fantastic shopping opportunities at Abu Dhabi’s world-famous mall. Top-end restaurants include Marco Pierre White, Frankie’s and Hakkasan.
The last race of the season, the 2016 Formula 1 Ethiad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will take place on 27 November. So far, two acts have been confirmed for the lavish pre-race party, they include RnB star Rhianna, and world-famous dance music pioneers The Chemical Brothers.
Where to stay?
As with the rest of UAE, Abu Dhabi is hosts all of the best hotel chains, a vast number of which you’ll find on Yas Island. Of course there is the 499-room Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi hotel for those who can’t bare to be too far from the action, but the island has some other stunning accommodation options too. There are seven major hotels in all, the Viceroy may be the only one with five-stars, but the Radisson Blue and Crown Plaza are particularly fabulous four-star options.
For those on a more modest budget, there are some great hotels in Abu Dhabi city. Simple options include the Mercure in the city centre and Cristal Hotel Abu Dhabi. The Hilton Abu Dhabi offers a touch more glitz and is close to downtown too.