Officially announced in 2007 and formally added in 2009 to the Formula One roster of circuits, the Formula 1™ Grand Prix™ races in Abu Dhabi are held at the Yas Marina Circuit, the second Formula One track in the region, following Bahrain.
Located in Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, the Yas Marina Circuit is believed by many race fans to be one of the most expensive circuits (if not the most expensive) in Formula One racing, and there are plenty of reasons to believe this.
A quick look at the circuit’s home
For starters, Yas Marina is a human-made island which reportedly cost $1 billion to build.
The birth of the Yas Marina circuit was borne out of Formula 1’s desire to add a new circuit that would draw racing fans from all over the world, all eager to secure Formula 1™ race packages and gain the full sporting experience. Taking a cue from the success of the Bahrain Circuit, the leaders of Abu Dhabi decided to throw its hat into the proverbial contest ring to host Formula One with Yas Island as the venue.
The circuit was designed by Hermann Tilke, a German engineer and racecar driver who is renowned for designing and overhauling racetracks, including the Circuit de Catalunya, Nurburgring, Fuji Speedway, and the Osterreichring.
Breaking ground for the project commenced in May 2007 and formally opened in October 2009. It took a construction team of about 14,000 people and 35 million working hours to fully complete the project.
The circuit traces and twists around Yas Island, passing notable structures and facilities like the Yas Hotel Abu Dhabi designed by renowned architects Lisa Anne Couture and Hani Rashid.
Apart from the prestige of hosting the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the facility boasts of being the biggest sports venue with a permanent lighting system. Before that, Losail held that distinction. The permanent lighting system was installed to ensure maximum visibility of the racetrack during the night.
In designing the circuit, Tilke chose graywacke aggregate for the track’s surface. The material was imported from a quarry in England and is also used in the Bahrain International Circuit. The material has been chosen because of its high grip.
The circuit has a total length of 5.554 kilometers and can be reconfigured in five ways to suit the needs of the different racing events it hosts. The course prides itself in offering grandstands and pit lanes that are covered and shaded.
All in all, the circuit has five grandstand areas plus other buildings, including the structures for its media center and the VIP Tower. It can seat over 41,000 spectators.
Visiting Yas Island
The circuit can be found in Yas Island, the development of which began in 2006. The island has a total land area of 2,500 hectares, with about half of this being earmarked for development. The original timetable for the project meant to unfold different stages of the island until completion in 2018. The developers envisioned the island to be used for entertainment, leisure, and shopping, with the Grand Prix as one of its main attractions.
Yas Island is located on the eastern side of Abu Dhabi, near the Abu Dhabi International Airport. From Abu Dhabi’s main center, it will take half an hour to get to the island by car or taxi. Alternatively, you can take the Yas Express, a subsidized bus service. The bus service runs from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Apart from being the home of the Yas Marina circuit, the island has plenty of other attractions for the whole family.
No race car enthusiast’s journey to the UAE will be complete without making a pit stop at Ferrari World, considered to be one of the largest indoor theme parks in the world. Ferrari World is the home of the Formula Rossa roller coaster, ranked as the third fastest in the world. If that is not enough, you can try the world’s highest roller coaster, dubbed as the Flying Aces.
Need to take a break from the sweltering heat? A visit to Yas Waterworld should be in order. The waterpark is built around Abu Dhabi’s pearl diving heritage, as evident in its various attractions, including slides and rides.
Warner Bros. World
Movie and TV buffs will surely want to visit Warner Bros. World. It boasts of 29 rides as well as live entertainment. The theme park is divided into six different zones, each with a particular theme. These are Gotham City, Warner Bros. Plaza, Metropolis, Dynamite Gulch, and Bedrock, each representing the studio’s most popular properties.
Seawings offers a different perspective of Yas Island and Abu Dhabi, and that’s from up in the sky on a Cessna seaplane. Seawings will take you to an unforgettable journey to the skies over notable landmarks, like the Emirates Palace, Ferrari World, Sheik Zayed Mosque, and the Sheik Zayed Bridge. The airplane ride lasts for 25 minutes.
Other notable attractions
Apart from the previously mentioned attractions, Yas Island has a few other treats waiting for you. These include Yas Beach, Yas Links, Yas Mall, and the Yas Viceroy.
Take note that during Formula 1 weekend, most of the attractions in Yas Marina Circuit is closed, except for the Yas Kartzone.
Without a doubt, Yas Island can give you a taste of leisure and adventure that you will find nowhere else.