Home  //  Circuit Guides Formula 1 Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina)
Written by @Damien_Marquez   
Sunday, 23 November 2014 15:50

The last grand prix of the F1 season takes place in Abu Dhabi at the sumptuous Yas Marina Circuit on the 21-22-23 November 2014. It is a sell out event, well organised with brilliant facilities and a nice cosmopolitan feel, thanks to the location, twilight schedule and excellent entertainment program.

This year's edition will welcome DJ Armin van Buuren, Pharrell Williams and The Who to perform on the live stage at the du Arena once the on-track activities have finished. Abu Dhabi is also one of the select cities, along with Monaco and Singapore, to host Amber Lounge and Podium Lounge parties during the weekend, on the F1 Yatch and the rooftop of the Yas Viceroy Hotel respectively.


Yas Marina Circuit pit straight - Image:
Ferrari S.p.A

2014 will see either Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg be crowned as world champion, so it's all to play for. The race weekend is also a bit controversial due to the rule awarding double the amount of points for this round. GP2 and GP3 Series will provide the support racing.

 

CONTENTS

1 // Location and accommodation
2 // Money matters
3 // Ticket prices
4 // Which grandstand or hospitality
5 // Tips and recommendations
6 // Useful links to prepare your trip to Abu Dhabi

 

1 // LOCATION AND ACCOMMODATION

The circuit is situated on Yas Island, some 30 km from the city centre on Saadiyat Island. There are a few high-end hotels in and around the track. The majestic and futuristic Yas Viceroy archs over the circuit and a handful of establishments, such as Crown Plaza and Radisson Blu, can be found at at Yas Plaza.

Otherwise, it's an easy drive or cab ride from in Abu Dhabi City. There's even a free bus service, the Yas Express, that goes to the racetrack. The schedule is limited so check the link section for the timetable. Finally, if you're on a restricted budget as far as accommodation is concerned, the circuit is accessible from Dubai, which is a one to two hour drive from the Yas Island.

Yas Island features several attractions other than the F1 track. It is the home of Ferrari World, the theme park of the famous constructor as well as Yas Waterworld, Yas Mall and a few other points of interest.


Jenson Button and the LED lit Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel - Image: McLaren

 

2 // MONEY MATTERS

Being a 'fly-away' destination, the Abu Dhabi GP requires a bit of budget planning. You'll probably find the experience less engaging if trying to go there on a shoestring. Below is a list of essentials to help you work out the figures required.

Return airfares to Abu Dhabi start from:
• R$4,700 / $1,800 from Sγo Paulo
• £700 (direct) or £400 (1 stop) from London
• €800 (direct) or €600 (1 stop) from Frankfurt
• $1,300 (direct) or $1,200 (1 stop) from New York
• S$1,300 (direct) or S$1,000 (1 stop) from Singapore
• A$1,800 (direct and 1 stop) or A$1,500 (2 stops) from Sydney

Four night accommodation from:
Dh5,000 / $1,400 / £900 / €1,200 for a double/twin room in a four star hotel on Saadiyat Island (downtown Abu Dhabi) with a review score of 7/10 or more on Booking.com. Yas Island accommodation is about three times more expensive.

Visa:
Citizens from the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Germany and many other countries receive a free 30-day visa on arrival. Check with your local UAE embassy or consulate for eligibility or associated entry cost.

Food and drinks:
Dh250 / $70 / £50 / €60 per person for four days for meals from local eateries. Chances are you'll be more likely to spend a budget of Dh2,000 / $600 / £400 / €500 if selecting midrange restaurants during your stay.

Taxi (airport - city centre or city centre - Yas Marina): Dh70 / $20 / £12 / €15. It's worth mentioning again the Yas Express Saadiyat bus route is free and links the Park Hyatt resort to the Ferrari World at the northern tip of the track.

Internet access:
Dh35 / $10 / £6 / €8 for a SIM card and 100-200 MB worth of 3G mobile data on either Etisalat or du.

TOTAL BUDGET from (excluding flights and tickets):
Dh5,500 / $1,500 / £1,000 / €1,300 for a solo traveller or Dh6,000 / $1,700 / £1,100 / €1,400 for a couple.

 

3 // TICKET PRICES

A simple look at the price list will give the impression that the Abu Dhabi GP is mostly a corporate event considering the sheer volume of hospitality on offer. Whilst most of the hospitality is actually located at the grandstands, the majority of the 60,000 tickets are for grandstand seating. That said, they are expensive, even by F1 standards. The same applies to general admission. There are other options offered by some ticket on-sellers to stay or watch the race weekend from a yacht but there are too many to be listed below.

The AED and USD prices in bold are from the promoter. Exchange rates are sourced from xe.com and based on the highest rate since the last Abu Dhabi GP. Three and four digit AED prices have been rounded up to the nearest $/£/€10 and five digit ones rounded up to the nearest $/£/€100.


Image: Yas Marina Circuit

 

4 // WHICH GRANDSTAND OR HOSPITALITY

The Yas Marina Circuit has five main buildings for grandstand seating and hospitality. They are all equipped with large TV screens opposite and all of them are covered, which is somehow different to being in the shade. So read on as we go through all of the grandstands, starting from the start/finish line.

The Main Grandstand offers views of the pit straight, pit garages and podium. The race action is limited as there are no corners in sight beyond the last turn for those sitting at the start of the straight. Along with the North Grandstand, the seats on the lower rows are in the sun for Free Practice 1 and 3 as well as some of the early support races. As such, it's worth considering an upgrade to a hospitality package if this is the grandstand of your choice.

The Al Dhiyafa Main and Al Jood prices are twice that of the standard seat. To put things in perspective, it is about the same level as a standard main grandstand ticket in Singapore. It allows you to watch the track action in a comfortable air-conditioned environment as well as from a private outdoor balcony with unreserved seating. The only difference between these two hospitality packages is that there is a bar accepting cash (no cards) for alcoholic drinks at Al Dhiyafa. Only 3 Day tickets are sold for this popular choice. In terms of location, the Main Grandstand is the closest building to the F1 Village situated right behind.

Views from the North Grandstand are pretty exceptional as far as observing car dynamics is concerned. It features both a chicane at Turns 5/6 and a hairpin at Turn 7, which is followed by the track's longest straight on the way to Turn 8. It is possible to watch the cars all the way from Turn 3 to Turn 8, which is quite far away, if you manage to find seats that are in the middle of the grandstand and lower rows so as to see below the back straight advertising banner. The seats on the Eastern part of the grandstand will be in the sun during the day, as shown in the image below.


North Grandstand complex - Image: Ferrari S.p.A

Hospitality options here are Al Dhiyafa North and the North Lounge, the latter providing a reserved seat in the shade at the top level of the grandstand, as well as access to an air-conditioned lounge area where you can purchase food and non-alcoholic drinks. End of day concerts take place a few meters away at the du Arena which is situated behind the grandstand building. No need to queue for a bus trip from this end of the track.

Another place where you can watch the start and finish of the race, albeit from a distance, is the northern part of the West Grandstand, from sections W-06 and W-07 only. From this grandstand, you can see overtaking manoeuvres in the DRS zone at the end of the back straight and follow the cars through the chicane at Turns 8/9. In the background cars can also be seen going through the last two corners, or even entering the pit lane. Additionally, you'll be able to see pit stops from the leading teams if you are sitting in Section W-08.

From a hospitality perspective, the West Grandstand offers three levels of service. Al Dhiyafa West and the West Lounge have the same features as those described above for the Main and North grandstands. In addition to these, an entry level option known as the West Club provides ticket holders with a reserved seat in the grandstand and access to an outdoor lounge where food and alcoholic drinks can be purchased. Final point, all the seats in the West Grandstand are protected from the sun.


Kimi Raikkonen at the pit entry with the West Grandstand building in the background - Image: Ferrari S.p.A

Situated just after Turn 10, the Marina Grandstand boasts panoramic views of the Yas Marina complex, which runs from Turn 10 to Turn 20. Only Turn 19 is obstructed by the Yas Viceroy Hotel. GP2 and GP3 support paddock is located underneath.

There is no basic hospitality here. Instead this grandstand features the Marina Boxes, which are a notch above the Al Dhiyafa Main and Al Jood service levels. Here you can expect your own private box, afternoon tea, a three-course meal before qualifying and race, canapιs and finger food throughout the day, as well as beer, wine, spirits, cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages served at your table. Three-day tickets can only be booked in groups of 40 or more whereas individuals can only purchase a Saturday-Sunday package.

In case you'd also like a Friday only hospitality there, the Grand Prix Brunch is a value for money experience which includes a private trackside suite with outdoor balcony, a lunch buffet as well as unlimited beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks served at your table.


Marina Grandstand spectators overlooking cars at Turns 11 - Image: Ferrari S.p.A

The shaded South Grandstand offers views of the Marina complex running from the end of the second DRS zone at Turn 11, all the way to Turn 17. It is a good spot for two reasons. First because you can expect a fair amount of overtaking at the end of the DRS zone and secondly because you have a much better view of the GP2 and GP3 pit garages than you would seating just above them.

The South Club is the only hospitality available in this building. Book a ticket for another grandstand for a hospitality level that gives access an air-conditioned environment if this is a must requirement.

Other hospitality options can be found at the Formula One Paddock Club, Yas Trackside Terrace, Yas Marina Bay Suites and Yas Viceroy Hotel.

Of those it is of course the Formula One Paddock Club that is the most famous and exclusive. Located on top of the pit building, it the ultimate hospitality experience, inclusive of pit lane visits and open bar with Champagne. From the air-conditioned suites you see see the action in both pit straight and pit lane. From the rooftop lounge though, the panoramic views encompass most of the circuit.

The other landmark hospitality building is without a doubt the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel, which offers two levels of service. You can choose between the room suites with private balcony or the open Yas Viceroy Terrace. The remaining hospitality packages are within the ballpark of the Marina Boxes, both in terms of features and price band. Contact your reseller for the specifics and finer details.


Yas Viceroy Hotel and Terrace - Image: Ferrari S.p.A

 

5 // TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Expect temperatures in the region of 25-30° C / 75-85° F during the day. The entry level to access to air-conditioned facilities is The Lounge at the North or West Grandstands. It is worth noting that the restrooms located in the Oasis areas all have air-conditioning.

We recommend wearing light cotton clothing (bearing in mind the local sensibility) and avoiding to apply too much moisturiser or sunscreen, as both will make you sweat excessively. Check the labels before you buy team merchandise that you want to wear at the track, as many of items are made of nylon or polyester. Sun umbrellas are a good idea, although bear in mind they are not allowed in the du Arena for the concerts at the end of each day.

Event commentary is provided in both English and Arabic over one channel on 102.2 FM. Bring or purchase a portable radio in case phone doesn't have an FM tuner and don't forget your headphones.

The Thursday pit lane visit is inclusive to all three-day grandstand and hospitality ticket holders up to Al Dhiyafa / Al Jood levels. Ticket packs have an extra pass for this public pit lane walk.

Avoid Row A of the South Grandstand Upper Rows section. There's a metal barrier obstructing the view of both track and TV screen.

Arrange for the tickets to be sent to you by post instead of queuing in the sun to collect them at the circuit.

In the past years, queues for the autograph sessions have been quite long and in the sun, with about 150 spectators only who managed to get an autograph per session.

Alcohol is only available or sold at a few locations. Look for Al Dhiyafa hospitality levels and above unless you feel like taking a walk in the sun to your nearest Oasis area.

There are few Golden Circle concert upgrades, podium passes and Meet & Greets with drivers and artists up for grab. Check the following webpage from the organisers for more information.
www.yasmarinacircuit.com/en/formula-1/plan-your-f1/2014-f1-event-guide/winyas-with-the-final-countdown


Abu Dhabi Hill General Admission in the background - Image: Ferrari S.p.A

 

6 // USEFUL LINKS TO PREPARE YOUR TRIP TO ABU DHABI

www.yasmarinacircuit.com - event information, schedule and ticket sales in AED and USD from the promoter
bookF1.com - our GBP/USD/EUR/AUD/CAD ticketing partner
GPTicketshop.com - our other USD ticketing partner

Booking.com - our trustworthy hotel reservation partner
www.yasisland.ae/en/maps--tools/yas-express-/ - Yas Express free bus service on Yas Island also linking the track to the city centre on Saadiyat Island
etisalat.ae - mobile and broadband services
du.ae - mobile and broadband services
www.timeoutabudhabi.com - restaurant, nightlife, arts and culture guide

formula1.com - General Information and schedule from Formula1.com

 

Finally, we would like to thank both Mark Allsop and Dot Kewley (@prettyvizsla on Twitter) for their review of the 2011 edition. Our thanks also go to @duskyBlogF1 who provided GrandPrixAdvisor.com with a link to an interview of three 2011 spectators which we made available on the website for a couple of years. Your can find it here.

Have you been to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix? You can help us to improve this guide by leaving your impression of this event in the 'Write a Review' section of this website.

If you would like to add further information or correct any of the above article, please leave your comments below.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix spectator guide
 

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