From the stands
Ever wondered what it’s like to watch an F1 race at Abu Dhabi’s ultra-modern Yas Marina circuit?
F1 Fanatic reader Steven Smith saw the gripping title-deciding race in Abu Dhabi last week. Here’s what he thought of the track and the action:
I’ve just got home after staying on for a couple of days in the United Arab Emirates following the title deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
I travelled out on Thursday last week from London, and decided to stay at the pool instead of watching practice at the track on Friday and soak up some of the gorgeous weather.
Saturday’s track action couldn’t be missed, though. So an 8.30am departure from the hotel in Al Ain, was followed by a two-hour drive to the circuit.
The first thing to let you know you are there is the sight of the red roof to the Ferrari World leisure park and it’s roller coaster.
All the fans then have to use the park and ride buses to get to the track, of which plenty had been laid on.
We got to the circuit and, after passing through airport-style metal detectors and X-ray machines, headed for the West grandstand. Access both in and out of the grandstand is by swiping your race ticket at the turnstiles. All tickets came on a lanyard.
Saturday afternoon’s running was all in daylight, and nothing spectacular happened. But plenty of photo opportunities were available, as movement around the grandstands was fully allowable.
They even have public areas at the end to allow people to stand and snap away. The view from this grandstand gave a small glimpse left at the northern end of the circuit where the hairpin bend is.
Then we saw the cars about half way down the main straight, before they flicked left, then right, and sped off past the support pits, towards the harbour. Then they came back into view at the penultimate corner to take the final two turns and blast down the pit straight. It was impressive an view compared to many other tracks I’ve been too.
Qualifying was done at dusk, and was easy to follow with both the big screen, and track radio. But, strangely, the radio coverage was absent on Sunday.
Finding the bus to get home proved awkward, as it had been ordered to move by the stewards, and was nowhere near where we had left it. It took us until 10:30pm to get back to the hotel.
Sunday’s action started later, so we stayed at the hotel until 10:30am, arriving back at the track two hours later. We saw the Porsche Supercup support race was poor in both numbers of entrants, and the quality of racing.
Bernie and the F1 hierarchy need to address something about the F1 Drivers’ Parade. We fans pay lots of money to travel to events like this. Yet the trailer carrying the drivers carried so many hangers-on the drivers could not be bothered to turn and face the crowd. They were too busy chatting to each other. The only notable exception on Sunday was Michael Schumacher.
The race itself obviously had it’s main “event” on the first lap with the coming together of Schumacher and Vitantonio Liuzzi. After that, it was purely a strategy game. Lap after lap Fernando Alonso followed the yellow Renault, never gaining.
The main excitement was knowing how the title race was at any time during the race. We knew early on that Mark Webber was in trouble, but realising Alonso had thrown it away too was quite remarkable.
I got my best photographs on the slowing down lap, when the two Red Bulls went side-by-side just in front of me.
As we left to get back to the coach all the stewards were thanking people for coming and saying “please come back”. They were so friendly, and the track so spectacular, that it will be hard not too.
Steven’s pictures from Abu Dhabi
This is a guest article by Steven Smith. If you want to write a guest article for F1 Fanatic you can find all the information you need here.
From the stands
- Why the Spanish GP was better in person than on TV
- Watching Brazil’s spellbinding F1 season finale
- Silverstone fans’ mixed views on the rain-hit weekend
- Nigel’s memories from the last 37 British Grands Prix
- F1 Fanatics meet up in Melbourne
- Watching at the Paddock Club, Parabolica and podium at Monza
- In the Paddock Club and in the stands at Spa
- Steven’s 51 F1 race visits in 25 years
- Tom Hitchings’ view of the Hungarian Grand Prix
- Ben tries Jamey’s F1 photo tips at Silverstone