Introduction to the Grand Prix
The F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is held at the Yas Marina circuit located on the Yas Island, just east of Abu Dhabi. The key section of the track is a 1.2km straight with very slow corners 7 and 8 at each side. Such layout creates a prime overtaking opportunity on a track where it is otherwise difficult. An interesting feature of this race is that it starts in daylight and finishes after sunset. It is one of only 2 Grands Prix in the Middle East, besides the F1 Bahrain Grand Prix.
- First Grand Prix: 2009
- Number of Laps: 55
- Circuit Length: 5.554km
- Corners: 21
- Fastest Lap: 1:39.283 by Lewis Hamilton in 2019
- Language: Arabic
- Currency: United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED)
- Time: GMT+4
What are the best grandstands to watch F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?
All grandstands at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix are sheltered to protect spectators from the desert sun. Seats are randomly assigned when a ticket is purchased and fans cannot choose seats from a seating plan. The circuit is very well developed and there really isn’t a bad grandstand so you have plenty of good options.
West Grandstand – located at the end of the main straight on turns 8 and 9, you are destined to see cars battle here as it is the main overtaking opportunity of the track. You will also be able to see the cars between turns 20 and 21 on the opposite side of the track from a distance.
South Grandstand – situated at the end of the 2nd DRS zone and overlooking turns 11 to 15, this is another great grandstand in terms of racing. In addition, the yachts at the marina in front of this grandstand combined with the Yas Hotel in the background provide some spectacular views, especially after sunset!
Main Grandstand – don’t expect to see any overtaking here as the cars fly-by at full throttle. However, this grandstand is perfect for those who want to watch the starting grid, pit-stop action and the post-race celebrations.
The general admission ticket access is limited to a single area on the inner side of the track opposite the North Grandstand. It may suits some casual fans or those booking their trip last minute but we would recommend spending the extra for even the cheapest grandstand.
For those looking for a unique experience at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, there are other options to consider:
Yacht at the Marina – There are over 200 berths at the Yas Marina and you can bet that all of them are going to be filled with yachts from which you can watch the race. There are various packages on offer but most include food, accommodation and access to the after parties. As you can probably guess, these packages do not come cheap!
Yas Hotel – this whale-shaped hotel is the first one ever built over an F1 circuit. There are several rooms overlooking the track which you can book. An outside area overlooking some of the track also exists for the guests, although it is rather small.
Staying at the hotel and watching the race does not require you to buy an actual F1 ticket. However, you will not be able to access the circuit ground or any of the after-race concerts so consider combining this with at least a one-day ticket for the full experience.
How to get to F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?
Getting to and around Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates has two main international airports – the Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) and the Dubai International Airport (DXB). Due to the location of the UAE, both of the airport service flights from the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. Both of the airports are also very modern with a range of facilities.
The quickest and most comfortable way to get to the city centre is by taxi. Taxi ranks are located outside of the arrivals and are easy to find. There are 2 types of taxis available for visitors, standard and luxury. A standard silver taxi should cost you around 80-100 Dirham for a trip to the city centre and will take around 30min. All taxis are metered with a display for the passengers so there should not be a need to negotiate prices.
There are no special rates for long distance journeys out of Dubai airport and you would have to use a regular metered taxi. A journey to Abu Dhabi will take approx. 1hr30min and cost you around 350 Dirham.
Uber and Careem apps are available in UAE, however they tend to be slightly more expensive than the regular taxis. No designated pick up points exist so you will have to notify the driver with your location and wait for him there.
Green and white public buses run from all 3 terminals to the city every 40min and are operational 24 hours a day. All buses are air-conditioned and quite comfortable. One way journey should cost around 4 Dirham and take 1h15min to the city centre as it stops at all public bus stops. While a little slower than a taxi, it’s a great option for those on a budget.
It is possible to get to Abu Dhabi from Dubai using public transport. You will first have to use the red metro line to get to the Al Ghubaiba Bus Station in Dubai. From there, take one of the inter-city buses to Abu Dhabi. Expect a total journey time between 2h30min – 3h and a cost of 30 Dirham per person.
Getting to the Yas Marina circuit
Yas Island is located around 30km from Abu Dhabi city centre. For those staying on the Island, most hotels are within walking distance to the circuit. If you are staying in city, to get to the track, you can choose one of the following options:
A taxi from Abu Dhabi city centre will take around 20 to 30 minutes and cost you around 60-80 Dirham. Getting a taxi home after the race or the concerts can be more difficult. Expect long queues at the exit gates. You could also walk to the Yas Mall where there should be less people. Uber or Careem could be another option to get home.
Public bus routes 170, 180, 185 and 190 will take you from the Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station to Yas Island. One way ticket costs only 2 Dirham but takes around 1hr and can get quite busy at peak times.
Renting a car
Depending on your circumstances, it may be worth hiring a car. Car rental prices start at around 55 Dirham per day for an economy class vehicle. Some of the roads are tolled however fuel is cheap. This option is also great for those considering staying in Dubai and driving to the Yas Marina circuit each day. Getting home will certainly be much easier with your own transport too.
As for parking, your best bet is to park at the Yas Mall and get the Yas Express bus to the track. Alternatively, you can park at the Al Shahama Park & Ride lot about 15km from the circuit and get the free shuttle bus to and back from the track.
Where to stay for the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?
There are several accommodation options for those travelling for the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. In general, there are few low cost options such as hostels or AirBnB rentals. Where you stay will probably depend on how long are you willing to travel to the circuit each day and your budget.
Yas Island – If money is no object, by far the best accommodation option is right by the circuit. There are several luxury hotels available within walking distance to the track. You can also stay at the circuit, as the Yas Hotel (W Abu Dhabi) is built over the track. As mentioned, the track can be visible from many rooms so you can’t get any closer to the Grand Prix than this! You could also book a Yacht package at the marina which includes a cabin over the race weekend.
Abu Dhabi city centre – Abu Dhabi is a little more spread out than Dubai and there are several neighbourhoods with an array of hotels. Some popular ones with the tourists are the Corniche, Al Zahiyah and Al Markaziyah, all of which are located by the main beach and have a range of restaurants, cafes and boulevards to enjoy.
Dubai – This option is best for those who are planning to rent a car and drive to the circuit themselves. The drive to the circuit takes 1hour 30mins from Dubai compared to around 20-30mins from the main island in Abu Dhabi. One reason for staying here is Dubai having more affordable accommodation options available. The downside of staying in Dubai is if you’re looking to attend the after race concerts, it can get pretty tiring driving back and forth over the 3 days.
What else is there to do in Abu Dhabi?
Abu Dhabi is the government centre of UAE and is a calmer, more traditional city compared to the business and tourism centre that is Dubai. Having that said, there is plenty to keep you busy during the day over the race weekend or if you decide to extend your stay.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – Dubai’s landmark and by far the most visited attraction by tourists in the city. This immense mosque was built over 20 years in dedication to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahya. It is a key place of worship and can hold up to 40,000 people. Bear in mind that you will need to respect muslim traditions when entering the Mosque. You should wear loose fitting clothes. Men are not allowed to wear shorts and women must wear long sleeved shirts and long pants.
Desert Safari – The Empty Quarter desert has some of the largest sand dunes in the world and is perfect for those wanting to try sand boarding or ride around in the dune buggies. There are several tour operators available and most tours will include a taste of traditional desert life with a trip to the camel farm.
As well as the location of the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the island is one of the biggest tourism and leisure projects in the city. Stretches of beautiful sandy beaches with sea-side restaurants and cafes makes this a perfect place to come and relax. Several attractions are also located here:
- Ferrari World – a branded theme park with rides suitable for families and thrill seeking visitors alike. It features a 52m loop roller coaster named Flying Aces which reaches speeds of up to 120km/h.
- Warner Bros World – another theme park dedicated to the heroes and villains of the studio’s movies and cartoons. There are 6 separate lands under a single air-conditioned roof and is best suited for family visits.
- Yas Waterworld – excellent way to cool down from the desert heat. World’s largest surfing sheet wave and world’s first hydro-magnetic tornado water ride are features of this theme park. You can also enjoy some of the restaurants, cafes and shops that are all located inside the park.
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