Start Your Engines | Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2015

Winning is the most important. Everything is consequence of that.”¬†Ayrton Senna

With just two weeks until¬†the annual Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2015 weekend at Yas Marina Circuit, the excitement of the three greatest and busiest days of the year in the capital’s calendar is building. As¬†Nico Rosberg and reigning champion Lewis Hamilton take their positions on the starting grid today in Sao Paulo at the Brazilian Grand Prix, Abu Dhabi is preparing for the exciting finale event in this year’s Formula 1 season¬†taking place from 27th – 29th November.

With Hamilton already clinching¬†the 2015 championship title with his¬†win at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas at the end of last month you may think¬†this year’s race may lack the excitement of a thrilling title climax but that will not deter each¬†driver’s determination to win the season finale race and take their place on the Yas Marina Circuit Podium.

Here’s anexpatabroad’s guide to this year’s exciting F1 weekend……

On the Track

The seventh Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend will start on Thursday 26th November with the Public Pit Lane Walk where ticket holders can get a sneak peek at the racing teams as they prepare for a weekend of fast paced racing action, you may even get to see a driver or two if you are lucky. The pit lane walk is exclusive to three-day F1 ticket holders who will also have access to the opening of the F1 Village.

Friday sees the first F1 practice sessions and a chance to see the drivers and cars on the Yas Marina circuit for the first time this year. Support race practice sessions and GP2/GP3 final practice sessions are also taking place on this day so make sure to take your ear defenders if you are planning on going! F1 qualifying sessions take place on Saturday afternoon, deciding who will be in pole position for the final F1 race of the 2015 season. GP2 and GP3 final qualifying sessions will also take place.

grand_prix2013_landing-page-image

Sunday is of course Race Day. Proceedings will commence with an Etihad Airways fly over before the racing action starts¬†at 5pm. With¬†five different grandstands as well as¬†the Abu Dhabi Hill, there’s plenty of opportunity to watch the world’s only twilight Grand Prix¬†race. If you haven’t already purchased your tickets¬†don’t leave it too late as there are less than 2,500 tickets remaining and they are selling fast, opportunities to buy seats in South and North Grandstand and Abu Dhabi Hill are still available. Tickets are available online at www.yasmarinacircuit.com and through the Yas Marina Circuit Call Centre (800 927) or ¬†02 659 9800, as well as through all Etihad Shops and Virgin Megastores.

Read more about this year’s Grand Prix in previous post¬†Go Beyond: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2015

Trackside

Alongside the daily trackside action, Yas Marina circuit will have four themed oasis areas full of interactive activities including driver autograph sessions, F1 simulators, majlis chill out zones and a UAE culture and heritage pavilion. Over at Abu Dhabi hill there will be opportunities to keep fit with Zumba, Yoga, Pilates sessions and hair and nail make-over stations will be available in the aforementioned oasis area.

Music acts, magicians, live dancing jukebox, balloon costume characters as well as street and stunt acts will all be on hand to entertain the crowds. The parkour zone will feature acrobats, street dancers and a bartender show offering activities for the whole family to enjoy. Rock/pop group The Boxtones, Irish singer/songwriter Gari Deegan, leading Dubai entertainer DJ Lou Lou and the violinist Marta Osmanova will be joined by the musical performer DJ Andy Buchan, Leanna Kerry, DJ Lins, Tom Thum, and Richard Kennedy.

Entertainment

Some of the biggest names in the entertainment world have been lined up to complement the action on the track with four days of live music. The fun starts on Thursday evening with a line-up of regional artists representing the Arabic language’s best singers, Cheb Khaled will be joined by the Emirati songstress Aryam, Lebanese star Fares Karam and the guru of Arabian electronic dance music DJ Said Mrad. From Friday until Sunday international musical acts will headline the Du Arena stage with  Spanish heartthrob and King of Latin Pop Enrique Iglesias on Friday evening, followed by flame haired Florence Welch and her British Indie rock group Florence + the Machine performing on Saturday after qualifying and rounding things up on Sunday evening are five time BRIT award winners and iconic Britpop band, Blur.

PicFrame-18

Yasalam is the largest citywide free entertainment program held by any race host city in the world, combining¬†motorsport with music and community events.¬†The Corniche is the venue for the UAE’s biggest free music festival, Beats on the Beach¬†where award-winning Emirati, Arabic, Bollywood, Filipino, local and regional talent are set to perform alongside an eclectic mix of international artists.¬†Roc Nation Rapper J Cole and¬†British Electronic Dance Music band Faithless who are celebrating twenty years in the music business will be performing on the stage set up on Lagoon Beach.

Joining the line-up is Lebanese singer Wael Kfoury,¬†funk and blues band Carl and the Reda Mafia, Grammy award nominee¬†American singer-songwriter¬†Jhene Aiko, actor Will Smith’s son DJ¬†Trey “Ace” Smith, the UAE’s Omar Al Marzooqi, five piece band Point of View¬†from Dubai, Kuwaiti-born songstress Arwa is a Yemeni singer known for her blending of¬†different genres of music and finally the Queen of Arabic hip-hop Malikah aka¬†LIX will stun the audience with her hard-hitting Arabic-language rhyme-style. The F1 Fan Zone will also be at the Corniche again this year and opens this Thursday, 19th November with a¬†carnival-styled Yasalam parade celebrating the ten Formula 1 teams with music and costumes inspired by the big race and the world-wide cities which host it. The parade will commence at 4pm from¬†Gate 6 to West Plaza, along the boardwalk of Abu Dhabi Corniche.

Party Central

It’s not a F1 weekend¬†without a F1 party, right? The marina will be full of boats of all shapes and sizes including some rather fabulous super yachts, the partying will continue from day to night under the Yas Viceroy hotel, you may even spot a celebrity or two!

estelle-live-performance-2-amber-lounge-abu-dhabi-2014_artistBig

Probably the hottest¬†F1 post-race after party the Amber Lounge will take up residence on their celebrity yacht in the marina and hold the ultimate celebrity and driver after party again this year. With only four events each year, the others being in Monaco, Singapore and Mexico, it’s the place to be and be seen as they say, think super glamorous darling! Craig David will be performing his TS5 show live this year, but let’s face it invites are hard to come by, unless you know someone or are prepared to throw money at it! On the plus side you may bump into Lewis, Jenson or a Minogue sister! It you feel like splurging heaps of cash, click here for ticket packages and prices.

The Podium Lounge A-List after-parties are famous for their track-side celebrations in Singapore, Melbourne, Monaco and for the last two years here in Abu Dhabi at the Yas Viceroy Hotel. This year’s glitzy¬†event¬†is expanding to neighbouring indoor entertainment venue du Forum to hold their three-day event which will be bigger in every sense of the word. The massive venue will undergo a dramatic transformation into a glamorous lounge featuring an overhead catwalk and VIP balcony suites for the ultimate¬†party experience for a staggering 3,000 guests each night.

660_The-Podium-Lounge-Singapore-2015-Venue-ShotNot only is the venue and capacity much bigger¬†this year’s entertainment line-up is also huge with two headline acts every night. Kicking off Friday night is dance act Freemasons who will be supported by Katherine Ellis (who wrote and performed the title track for the Oscar-winning film Gravity) and rounding up the evening will be Mark Doyle and Fierce Angel (of Hed Kandi fame). Saturday night will welcome singer, songwriter and producer 8KY 6LU¬†of the duo LMFAO together with his DJ BMAD along with¬†music director of private-members club Boujis.¬†Sunday’s finale will feature British DJ, producer and remixer Joey Negro along with Dimitri from Paris. Read more about all the artists performing here.

In addition famous American sports artist, Brent Benger, official artist for Rolling Stone Magazine will be holding live painting sessions at The Podium Lounge over the F1 weekend and his work will be on display for the first time in the UAE to commemorate the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2015. He will be creating new iconic pieces during these live sessions, his exhibit will showcase exclusive pieces of art including specially commissioned paintings of Lewis Hamilton (see below), Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel and the Yas Marina Circuit itself.

Brent Benger painting 2

Except to see Formula 1 drivers and team members, royalty, A to D list celebrities, supermodels and of course the cream of the UAE’s jet-set elite, maybe even me and the other half if you are lucky and we are still awake! Open from Friday to Sunday from 10pm Р5am, for more information and tickets visit www.podiumlounge.com or e-mail vip@podiumlounge.com

With its unique position over the Yas Marina Circuit, the iconic Yas Viceroy Hotel will be holding exclusive events over the whole race weekend. For those looking for a sophisticated gourmet dinner look no further than Amici where legendary two Michelin-starred Italian chef Antonio Mellino will be taking over the kitchen for race weekend. Bringing his finest Italian cuisine from his highly respected and popular Amalifi Coast restaurant, Quattro Passi, chef Mellino will showcase the menu of light, fresh-flavoured signature dishes. Contact dining@viceroyhotelsandresorts.com for more information and to book.

The party crowd will have all their needs taken care of at the hotel with lots of options to celebrate Grand Prix style into the wee small hours. Sunset Monaco will be bringing the glamour of the French Rivera to Palm Gardens, transforming it into a hangout for the sophisticated set. Views of the race track and world-renowned DJs on the decks until 4am, guests can dance under the stars all night long. For reservation enquiries contact booking@sunsetmonaco.com

yas-f1-2015-banner-670x302Rush¬†Nightclub, the only niterie in the world built over a F1 racetrack is being taken over by¬†celebrity haunt Cirque le Soir and Rich List to host Friday nights after party. The decadent, eye-opening and quite frankly insane club will offer an unforgettable party experience (believe me it’s true I’ve been before)! Spectacular world-class performances and talented DJs, Cirque will entertain the crowds and keep the party going until the early hours, rumour has it there will a special guest performance too, but you know what they say about rumours! Contact richard@cirquelesoirdubai.com

Straight out of New York City, one of a kind nightclub 1 Oak (aka¬†1 of a kind) is making its debut on the capital’s nightlife scene on Saturday and Sunday evenings with a promise of world-renowned DJs and surprise performances. All weekend long rooftop bar Skylite will feature award-winning best bar and New York Time‚Äôs must-do, 40 Kong. Dubai‚Äôs favorite elevated bar, will take over the canopy covered rooftop bar with its signature cocktails, bar bites and music from resident DJ, HVOB, Smash TV,¬†Doctor Dru and¬†Monkey Safari (reservations@40kong.com). Chill out at Latitude pool bar at the after race party, taking full advantage of its enviable rooftop location with 360 degree views of the racetrack¬†and Yas Marina.

Visit www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com for all the up to date Grand Prix weekend activities at the hotel.

Over at the Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri, it’s the Fashion Fever Grand Prix event on Thursday night, designed to bring that extra dash of glamour¬†to the F1 race weekend festivities. The event¬†will unveil collections from five designers depicting the theme of ‚Äėfashion during F1‚Äô. The designers will include¬†Julio Domani by Zeena Zaki, ShoShoBella, Tri Couture, LA Rags and brands from Department store House of Fraser. Inspiring fashionable dressing for all the F1 whether at the circuit, the paddock club or for one of the glitzy¬†parties mentioned above.

So that’s about it, I’m exhausted just writing it all down! Now we’ll just have to wait and see what the weekend brings! Will the immensely talented and brilliant driver Hamilton delight the British fans and win another race in Abu Dhabi? Will Damon Alban sing Park Life? Will Enrique have all the ladies swooning? Who will be partying on the gigantic boats in the Marina this year? All I know is another fun weekend is on the cards and the capital will be full to capacity with people partying all weekend long!

Information and photos provided by Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi, Seven Media and The Podium Lounge. All views are my own. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved.