Yas Marina – spectators’ experiences

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Tell us about your experiences of visiting Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi.

You may wish to include:

  • When you visited the track
  • Where you watched from
  • How easy it was to get to
  • How much of the track you could see
  • What support races there were
  • What you liked and didn’t like
  • How much it cost and whether it was good value

Please use the reply box below to leave your comments.

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21 comments on Yas Marina – spectators’ experiences

  1. I was at the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (my bro lives/works there) and had a great time.

    As most people have commented it looks absolutely fabulous with the marina, the granstands and the Yas Hotel. After sunset it looked stunning with the floodlights and the hotel light show.

    The location and getting there

    The circuit is located at Yas Island which is one of the islands near the coastline of the United Arab Emirates. It is right next to Abu Dhabi International Airport about 20-30 mins drive from downtown Abu Dhabi and about 40-60 mins from Dubai.

    Yas Island is a big flat desert with very little in it right now but it is scheduled for spectacular development and construction over the next few years.

    The area immediately around the circuit is being developed as a huge leisure resort featuring the hotels, beaches, the marina, watersports, golf courses, theme parks (including Ferrari World which opens in 2010 – the worlds largest indoor theme park).

    There may have been buses/coaches to the circuit from downtown Abu Dhabi but as far as I could see everyone arrived by car. Car parking was well organised with window stickers for each day sent out in advance with tickets
    telling you which car park entrance to go to and stewards directing you to the right area. Then there were buses to ferry you (in 5-10 mins) to your own grandstand entrance.

    It was very very easy to get to and easy to find your seat :)

    The circuit, organisation and facilities

    I won’t describe the circuit too much as there are other guides here and the track map etc.

    The grandstands are well designed and it was well organised. Tickets were magnetic chip plastic cards – one for each day so access to the circuit was well organised and secure with scanners on every entrance.

    There was no general admission. Everyone had a reserved seat in one of the grandstands. And in our grandstand we were in shade for all but the first hour or so of the first support race (very important with sun beating down and temperatures of >35c).

    The were lots of stewards and it was all very friendly polite and civilised.

    The grandstands are built really close to the edge of the circuit and you’re at a higher level looking down and across so you have some great views. From our seats in the west grandstand by turn 8 we could see most of the way back up the main straight to turn 7 where the cars came from. We could see them as they braked and turned around turn 8 and 9 and then as they headed off down the back straight towards turn 11. Then by looking across we could see them as emerged from the Yas Hotel and came up around turn 20 and 21, we could see the whole of the length of the main pit straight and in teh distance could see them entering the first corner.

    So I reckon we were able to see 30% of the entire circuit from our seats without having to move or strain.

    And because the stand was built so close to the edge of the track you almost felt like you were on top of the cars as they came past. Especially if you went down to the rail at the front and hung over (they only let you do that during the support races before the grandstands filled).

    I had only a couple of gripes about the circuit and buses:

    1. nothing to see or do, or places to hang out

    Outside the grandstands there was very little. Outside our grandstand there were two merchanise stalls and one small marquee outside the cafe.

    That was it… no stalls, no exhibits, no places to hang out, no shaded areas in which to sit or drink, no things to see and do, no funfair, no rides.

    Obviously it being a muslim country there were no beer tents (I was expecting that) but I was at least expecting more in the way of merchandise, franchises, market stalls, advertising, fun activities, etc.

    So it felt a bit sanitised and lacking atmosphere.

    There was the F1 Village that had a few things but that was only by the main grandstand (10-15 mins walk away) and even there it was much smaller than I expected.

    2. catering there was very little food to choose from. At our grandstand (and it seemed to be the case at the other grandstands too) there was one cafe whose entire menu consisted of 3 main dishes, 3 types of salad and 3 deserts. Plus bottles of water and soft drinks. At the least the bottled water was free.

    That was it…. no hot-dog stands, no ice cream stalls, no burger vans, no doughtnuts, no sweet stalls, no nothing.

    And they banned you from taking in and eating your own food and that was stricly enforced. A couple of people in front of me brought their own salads and were told they had to leave the grandstand to eat them (but outside the grandstand there was nowhere to go to eat your own things). I saw someone else told to stop eating a packet of crisps (potato chips) !!

    The action

    The overall programme was good – the support races were:
    1. Chevrolet Middle East Challenge
    2. GP2 Asia series
    3. Porsche Supercup
    The action in these races was pretty good. Close racing, good overtaking, etc.

    F1 GP was quite good but it got a bit dull in the middle. There are two good overtaking places – the end of the main straight (turn 8) and at the end of the back straight into turn 11. In my view the track layout works out great here… anyone defending position at turn 8 finds their exit from turn 9 compromised and then the following car get them a 2nd time on entry to turn 11.

    So the west grandstand and the south grandstand are the best for seeing overtaking action in my view.

    The main grandstand gives you a view of the starting grid and pits.

    The north grandstand will give you great views of the cars as they sweep around but less view of overtaking action.

  2. I also went to the yas island to see the grand prix, I agree with Mark, its like no other obviously money was no object for them, the after show parties were fantastic well kings of leon were, we wasnt there for thursday or Friday, however there was a good supply of beer stalls and burgers in side , also track side there were beer facilities all be it hard to find, they consisted of a large marque one door no signs on other than you had to be 21 or over to enter, but inside packed to the rafters by mostly Brits, I loved it will go again, be nice to see it finished,

  3. Brian Baum said on 18th May 2010, 6:55

    My wife and I were also at the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and I generally agree with the comments made above. Our tickets were on the east side of the North Grandstand – In other words, we sat at the left hand side at the base of the ‘V’ as you face the track.

    Two key points for those considering the North Grandstand. 1) DON’T get a front row seat. Yes, the stands are raised above the track, but because there is a walkway and a rail in front of you, you will NOT have a clear view (I’m pretty tall and the ‘view’ was still awful). If you want to sit towards the front, go at least three or four rows back. 2) If you have a choice, sit in the west side of the ‘V’. The setting afternoon sun is merciless and you will fry until just after the start of the race. We decided to move so we could see the race. We ended up finding two empty seats on the lower west side of the ‘V’ and had a great view of the cars coming towards us around the corner and up the very l-o-n-g straight. Best of all, after the race we were treated to Mark Webber doing several tyre-smoking doughnuts right in front of us. If you are into photography, the west side of the North Grandstands is MUCH better.

    Overall, there isn’t really much to do between races. The main shopping area was a long walk or shuttle bus ride away from my seats. As was mentioned earlier, there isn’t a huge amount to buy there or even many other distractions. There is a little better variety of food there versus the grandstands. Ferrari World, which is right next to the North Grandstands, will open be in time for the 2010 GP. Yes, the bottled water is free and plentiful. Other food and drink items are fairly reasonably priced for a F1 event.

    Driving is very easy, both in and out of the circuit. Parking is well organized and the delays out of the circuit were minimal after the race. Remember, it will be dark when you leave the circuit, so make sure you are comfortable with driving in a hectic environment as you return to the city. Unless you park in a paved lot, your car will be covered in a thick layer of dust after the day’s events.

    Renting a car and driving in the Emirates is easy and since Yas Island is so far away from downtown, it is a must. But if you are considering making the trip and plan to drive, there are several important words of caution to keep in mind (I’ll be happy to go into more detail if anyone wants to reply with questions).

    We enjoyed ourselves and highly recommend the venue. The people are very friendly and are proud to be hosting such an important sporting event.

    • Hi,

      Im going to the grand prix this year and thinking of driving. I will drive from dubai to abu dhabi and then will be staying in down town abu dhabi

      • charlie said on 2nd November 2010, 16:53

        hi my fella and i will be staying in downtown abu dhabi, if you decide not to drive, we could share taxi costs if you want to???
        although i have heard there are shuttle buses to the circuit from marina mall!!!
        either way good luck and enjoy!!!

  4. Hi,

    Alot of my questions were answered in all your post, except one – dress code??

    haven’t been to a F1 event before and finding it hard with the heat and the fact is it a muslim country! any ideas would be grateful!

    Thanks!

    • roberttty (@roberttty) said on 25th October 2010, 11:51

      Hi Una,

      I am assuming you are a lady. :)

      I believe Abu Dhabi is not as strict as say, Iran, therefore any attire that doesnt reveal any cleavage, lots of leg should be good enough.

      Therefore, a T-shirt with sleeves and knee-length bermudas as a minimum should suffice.

    • GeeMac (@geemac) said on 25th October 2010, 12:10

      Hi Una

      I live in Dubai, and while Abu Dhabi is a bit more conservative than Dubai its still pretty liberal. As long as you aren’t planning on wearing a bikini to the race you should be fine! Summer dresses etc are generally acceptable.

      And in November the temperature is generallyin the low 30’s (celcius) so it ism’t all that bad.

    • Mark (@marlarkey) said on 25th October 2010, 21:03

      Well I don’t think I saw anyone in a bikini but shorts and T-shirt seemed to be the norm – for male and female.

      Abu Dhabi is pretty tolerant and its only in the mosques that they require ‘discretion’

    • charlie said on 2nd November 2010, 16:54

      hi
      i was thinking the same question lol
      its hard as its going to be hot and also i do not want to offend anyone!!!

  5. I’ve lived out there for 6 months and went to last year’s GP.

    It’s fairly relaxed but it’s better (and more respectful to the locals)if you don’t show too much flesh. If you’re a guy then you’re ok with long shorts and a t-shirt but if you’re a girl then i would recommend cropped trousers or a reasonably length skirt, and a non-revealing/low cut t-shirt. Short skirts and skimpy tops are a no.

    When you’re out in the evening it’s fine to wear dresses etc, just be aware of the customs/rules regarding ‘contact’ with members of the opposite sex as it can get you into a lot of trouble as they are very strict about certain customs.

    The race is two weeks later this year so while it will be warm it unlikely to be totally scorching and all the grandstands are undercover to keep the majority of the sun off you.

    Hope this helps

  6. Mohammed said on 25th October 2010, 20:20

    Hello all I watched it from the support pits great view as u see all the support straight and also see the cars into the technical section near the hotel.

    I did not find it to b hot there as the cool breeze from the marina is nice.

    We stayed in Dubai Marina and got a Taxi to ShaHama (I think that’s how it is spelled) where there was a bus to track

    11 out of 10 worth a visit

    Regards
    Mohammed

  7. Mark (@marlarkey) said on 18th November 2010, 14:41

    Well here I am again… the original poster…

    I was at Abu Dhabi again this year… seated in the West Grandstand again… this year I was seated a bit more centrally in the grandstand to the right of where I was last year.

    I think west grandstand block I or H is a great place to view from. As I said originally you get a view of the cars coming down the main straight, through the chicane and off down the back straight. Then after they come through the hotel you see them as they come back to the pit entrance and a view of the start/finish straight.

    This year I was a bit nearer the chicane and the big screen but I was nearer the front (in row C) so my view was slightly blocked by the railings at the front of the grandstand… it wasn’t bad for watching the race but it did get in the way of photos. But you can get up and wander up and down the grandstand to take photos from different spots.

    Most of the comments I made originally still stand…

    It was well organised, in particular the ticketing and park-and-ride system was great.

    The programme was good with a GP2 race and a Porsche GT3 Supercup race.

    And they have made huge improvements to the entertainment, catering and merchandise. Each of the grandstands had a large area with marquees and stalls, with places to sit and eat (available food included jacket potatoes, fish and chips, burgers, salads, curries, hot dogs, ice cream, pastries, muffins, tea, coffee). There were also an enclosed beer tents at each grandstand (getting drunk is frowned upon but drink is available). They also had music and entertainers keeping the crowds happy.

    After the days racing your ticket also gave you entry to the after-race concert. This year the three acts were Kanye West (practice day), Linkin Park (qualifying day) and Prince (race day).

    These concerts made it a really good celebration to finish the day off although it did seem to me that a lot of people had handed their tickets on to their children judging by how the audience at the concerts compared with the crowd at the race :)

    All in all, it was very enjoyable. It might not have the tradition and atmosphere of some of the traditional circuits but it was a good trip and the Abu Dhabi’s put on a good show.

    • hi i see that you have been to this circuit twice. please recommend the best seating are in the circuit. i was thinking on getting tickets at the support pit grandstand because i could see the cars coming in two directions and also have a view of the hotel. is this a good place to sit or is there something better? i will be flying from Mexico with 5 other friends. thanks much

      • Mark said on 24th August 2011, 0:00

        Hi Bill,

        I think the support pit grandstand would be good too… but both times I went I was in the West Grandstand.

        The West Grandstand gives you a view of the best overtaking spot on the circuit at the end of the main straight. And you can view across to the pit lane entrance and the main pit straight.

        The South Grandstand would be the next best in my view as there is another overtaking possibility ocming into the tight bend at the end of the short straight.

        Curiously the worst stands in my view with the least view are the Pit Grandstand and the North Grandstand.

        So I’d list them as:
        1. West
        2. South/Support
        3. Main Pit
        4. North

        • J PERES said on 7th October 2011, 7:14

          Dear Sirs,

          I will go on the 11,12,13 november. I will be booking the seats. On the south grandstand the seats remaining are the following,
          lower s01,s02,s03,s04
          upper s08
          I will be with my two daughters aged 13 and 18.
          Thank you for advising

  8. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 11th October 2011, 22:54

    Hello everyone.

    Thanks for joining in here to discuss the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    Please be aware that this discussion page will be closed after the forthcoming race.

    This is because a new group has been set up with a dedicated forum for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. I hope you will find this a useful step forward over the current system of just having a single page.

    You can already join in and add comments to the new group here:

    Going to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina

  9. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 9th December 2011, 14:02

    This discussion page is closed. If you want to discuss going to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix please go to the new discussion forum here: Going to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix