Watching the Formula 1™ Grand Prix™ races in Abu Dhabi from the stands is a dream come true for most Formula 1™ fans. Being able to watch the speed machines zoom past the stands can be an exhilarating experience. It even beats watching in front of a laptop or TV set, regardless of the size of your screen.
Over the years, the concept of the racing fan has evolved. With luxurious hospitality programs such as the Elite Supercar Driving Tours, fans can enjoy the races in style. Guests who take advantage of these types of packages can meet and mingle with legendary race drivers, stay in exclusive hotels, and savor meals prepared by Michelin chefs.
But Formula 1™ races are not just for the well-off. General admission ticket prices make watching more affordable for all types of fans. Keep in mind, however, that there are thousands of other spectators attending the events.
How do you make the most of your experience? Here are a few tips for surviving the races and enjoying your trip.
Scout the area
In general, Formula 1™ tickets are sold as a three-day package. Fridays (or Thursday in Monaco) are for practice runs, Saturdays are for the qualifying rounds, while Sundays are reserved for the main races.
Out of the three, the busiest is Sunday, but experts recommend making good use of the less chaotic days as well. Try to visit the tracks on a Friday or Saturday, or both. Doing so will give you a better idea of how to get there, how to get back to your hotel, and how to find the best spots.
The concept of “the best spot” is subjective and varies depending on who you ask. Some fans prefer being close to the turns as this is where they can witness the driver’s skill.
Others prefer being closer to the straightaway. The straightaway is often where they place the start/finish line. Plus, this is where audiences can see cars at their fastest.
Regardless of which area gets you pumped the most, try to find a spot that is close to the Jumbotron. By sitting near this areas, you can quickly check updates or watch parts you’ve missed.
Pack a few essentials
When you go for the general admission package, keep in mind that there won’t be a lot of perks included in the price. What this means is that you will be under the mercy of the weather and the environment. It’s best to bring some things to make your viewing experience a bit more comfortable.
Spectators who plan to be at the tracks the whole day are advised to bring a folding chair with a back and a cushion, if possible. Because the terrain tends to be sloping, note that balancing can be difficult. An alternative is to bring a mat or blanket, which can double as a place you can set up to snooze in between races.
Expect the unexpected when at the tracks. As such, don’t forget to bring some sunscreen, hats, and umbrellas. Bring a raincoat or poncho as well – you never know if the weather decides to turn sour on race day.
A pair of over-the-ear headphones should also be on your list of things to bring. It can get loud throughout the day, up to 147 decibels in some cases. Protect your ears by wearing these.
If you are worried about missing any updates, you can also bring a small radio with you. For the more tech-savvy, there are also apps that can provide you with up-to-the-minute updates. Remember to buy a local sim and a data plan that you can use to help you save on costs.
Given the distance between you and the actual track, you may want to consider bringing a pair of binoculars as well. With binoculars, you can watch the action without relying on the Jumbotron.
Get there at the crack of dawn
During the first two days, you can get away with snoozing, but not on race day. Sunday is the main race day, and you will be competing with hundreds, if not thousands, of other spectators.
You need to be at the tracks and lining up before the doors even open. The aim is to get your pick of the seats. With your knowledge from the previous days, you should already know where the best spots are by this time.
Wear comfy shoes
Expect to do a lot of walking from your hotel to your seats. There will be plenty of public transportation available, but the drop off areas are still a long way off from the tracks.
You will also be on your feet a lot, walking, checking out other sections, and finding food, among others. As such, wear shoes that you can comfortable using for more than a day.
Watching the Formula 1™ Grand Prix™ races from the general admission area will not be as glamorous as the VIP seats. By following these tips, you know what to expect and how to prepare. If you are planning to watch the upcoming races, book your tickets early to get the best deals.
Oliver Kent is the Managing Director of ZK Sports & Entertainment, operating in the Middle East for over 10 years now. He is currently leading the company’s recent appointment as the Exclusive Marketing and Sales Agent for F1 Experiences in the Middle East.