I got to the Yas Marina Island and parked the car at the fantastic Yas Mall. I used their excellent valet parking service which cost only 100 AED and boarded the circuit bus. This was a much cheaper (but definitely less convenient) arrangement than the official F1 parking facilities which cost 500 AED for two days. I made my way to the South Grandstand where my seat was located. The South Grandstand offers some of the most incredible panoramic views in motorsport. We were treated to the sights of thrilling action as drivers interweave through the turn 11 chicane before accelerating out of turn 14 and around the Marina before disappearing under the illuminated five-star Yas Viceroy Hotel. So I settled down to watch the Qualifying session in which the fight for pole position came to a fight between the Mercedes team mates, Lewis Hamilton and Valteri Bottas. For once, Bottas came on top in this battle and secured pole position, his fourth in Formula 1.
It was an uneventful trip back to Dubai after the qualifying session as the traffic was heavier , It had been a long day with 500kms covered and my two Porsche Macan drivers were nowhere to be seen. Lol
Sunday. Race Day.
Sunday, race day, started at a leisurely pace as the race stated at 5pm local time and there was a lot of time for breakfast and relaxing beforehand.
I set off for Yas Marina Island around noon and 20km’s into the journey I joined a fast-moving convoy comprising a Ferrari F12, a Ferrari 488, 2 Lamborghini Huracans, a Porsche 911 Turbo, a Porsche 911 Carrera S, a Mclaren MP4-12 and an Audi R8 V10 Plus. And these guys were really moving. I wonder what is in the water in these parts that produces so many speed demons and hardcore petrol-heads. Hallelujah! It is a refreshing change from the UK’s politically-correct, risk-adverse, namby-pamby, nanny-state motoring environment. In the UAE you are not denigrated and mocked for loving fast cars and driving for the sheer joy of driving. in the UAE, the SuperCar is still king.
Just before I arrived at the circuit, I got a message from a friend. He had managed to secure for me a very special race ticket. We would be watching the race from the Marsa suite, which is just above the race track on the back straight with food and alcohol aplenty. No hanging with the common folk today. Not only that, he had also managed to secure entry into Mclaren’s ‘Rich List’ party in the grounds of the Yas Viceroy hotel. Another friend who now lives and works in Abu Dhabi asked me if I wanted to watch the race from the back of the Ferrari garage! It pays to have friends in high places eh?
After parking up at Yas Mall as I had done the day before, I met up with my friend in the lobby of the Yas Viceroy hotel and together we made our way through the hotel to the Mclaren ‘Rich List’ party to hob-nob with the F1 glitterati and their associated hangers-on. Tables at this party started from £10,000! Yikes! After hanging out for a bit, we made our way to the Marsa Suites which are located on the first floor of the Marina Grandstand right above the Support Pits to watch the start of the race. The Marsa Suites also had a dedicated balcony right above the track from where you could watch Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and the rest of the F1 grid hammer past at close to 200 mph, DRS flaps open as they tried to overtake the car in front, then, with sparks flying as the car bottomed out, braking hard for the hairpin turn 11…fantastic! A mesmerising sight and a reminder that the modern F1 car is a technological marvel, capable of incomprehensible feats. Pity that the sophistication and technological advancement of these cars are unsurprisingly detrimental to competition and racing. There was not one change of position on the track among the top 12 runners, except when the unfortunate Daniel Ricciardo retired his Red Bull from a promising fourth position with engine trouble.