Managing to adopt some complimentary VIP passes to the highly-anticipated F1 in Abu Dhabi – courtesy of my big boss / brother figure Mr Paul Evans – I didn’t quite know what to expect.
Formula One racing has never really interested me. Sure fast cars rock; but watching them go round and round has never appealed. In Dubai however, the reputation of the event is almost held in higher regard than most celestial beings: insane money being spunked frivolously – whether on sponsorship or VIP tables - is certainly a way of life in these parts.
Alas, I took a tall, leggy, blonde: my Amigo #NickTheDane. Waking-up with the usual weekend hangover I dragged my groggy ass out of bed; into the shower and around to his for an early start circa 2pm. Taxiing it over from Dubai to Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina – the 95k journey took just over an hour which allowed me and the Big Dane to catch up on essential football news (and other stuff boys discuss).
Arriving, we made our way to the entrance and swiftly located the nearest bar – naturally – and sunk a pint in celebration. It was, after all, a Saturday; and therefore a cause of celebration the world over – F1 or no F1… Listening to a funky soundtrack provided by a locally-based duo comprising of a soulful male vocalist and a female pianist on keys, the reasonably subtle / festival-like scene was rudely interrupted by a stunning six-plane formation of stunt pilots with the green, white, black and red colours of the UAE flag spewing out behind them.
Sure I’ve seen the red devils in my childhood, but these dudes put Tom Cruise to shame in Top Gun. They were wing-tip to wing-tip performing 360 loop-de-loops, flying upside down in a straight line and flying like some mystical spell had been cast upon a camel with leprosies.
Anyways – after some mind-bending and gravity-defying twists and maneuvers we decided to get closer to the automobile action; partly due to the fact we weren’t eligible for toilet admission at this bar, so we ventured closer to the danger zone. Following the masses, clearly suffering from sun-stroke and presumably under the influence: we pondered about the room for disaster. Planes flying seemingly out-of-control, cars driving at speeds of up to 230 mp/h and 20,000 randoms staggering about after a few shandies all in a land where being out-of-control is illegal in itself.
Like the hunter-seeker warriors we are, we found some appropriate toilet facilities just in the Nick (excuse the pun) of time. After relieving ourselves – not each other – we sunk another beer before hearing some monstrous roars coming from within the track.
Heading towards our – as yet unrecognized VIP seats – we tried to watch the vroom, vroom, vroom of the F1 cars speeding by us as deafening speeds. Sat in a building inspired by the late great “Queen of the curve” (as the Guardian put it) Zaha Hadid; the sights, the sounds and the smells of burning rubber would make the most lethargic arm-chair wino get super enthusiastic about the sport – or at least for an hour or so.
Somewhere in a blur of noises and colours screaming past us reasonably close to speed of light was – allegedly – Lewis Hamilton, Sebastien Vettal and some other dudes also apparently famous and legendary in their field. I was really intrigued as to who was in the pink car; I like to think it was Penelope Pitstop but she was probably busy catching pigeons.
Regardless after the four-rounds (I think) of qualifying stages the British icon Lewis Hamilton was in pole position, his Mercedes team-mate Bottas in a close second and Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel in third. We only know this because they parked 30 yards away from where we were sitting and, at that point, I lost my shit. I screamed like a teenager at a Linken Park concert; and my knickers we just as wet too.
Post-race pandemonium ensued around the drinks stage; with one particular couple raving like loved-up 80s ravers on various forbidden substances. This brought me to the sharp realization that this event was about far more than race cars with up to 1,000 hp – pulling breakneck speeds of 230+ mph (375 kh/m); this is about fun, this is about a celebration of life, a celebration of the sense and – for some – the celebration of liquids quite apart from petroleum. Certainly an experience I won’t forget and one I’d recommend to anyone with a love of sunshine, music, drinks – and the fast cars themselves. Zim Zimma…