Races, parties, gigs, and more ways to enjoy the Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi
Time Out Abu Dhabi staff
The anticipation is finally over. After 12 months of watching the days slowly count down, the Formula One circus has returned to Abu Dhabi, and that means it’s time to get over to Yas Island, watch the best drivers in the world tackle of one the most challenging circuits on earth, rub shoulders with A-listers and party into the night. We’ve got a fantastic weekend of glamour, sporting drama and, above all celebration on our hands, so make sure you don’t miss out on any of the excitement Yas Marina’s Formula One festivities have in store.
Friday November 1
The first time we’ll see tyres getting burned into the Yas Marina Circuit track will be on Friday morning as the drivers reacquaint themselves with the corners they’ll be flying round come race day. Practice days are all about observing which cars will be suited to the track and race conditions (track-side heat is a surprisingly important factor in racing) and making predictions of who is going to perform well or poorly come Sunday.
If you’re new to F1 then Friday’s practice sessions are simply a time to take in the spectacle that is the sporting calendar’s most outlandish travelling circus. The sights and sounds of the Yas Marina Circuit being used for its prime purpose, hosting Formula One racing, is a display unlike any you’ll find across sports. If you didn’t think you were a fan before you went, then you certainly will be by the end of the day. And not only will you be able to get your first taste of the action, but you’ll also be able to pick your favourite racer to support when race time comes around.
Saturday November 2 If Friday is as much a procession for the fans as it is a tune up for drivers, then Saturday November 2 is when things get a lot more serious. Qualification determines where each car will start on the grid on Sunday, and with seven of the 15 races run this season having been won by the man on pole it’s easy to see why so much emphasis is placed on trying to get round the track as quickly as possible.
All 22 drivers will be given 20 minutes to log their best time for a flying lap, after which the slowest seven will be eliminated. This process will be repeated for a second time, with five more cars being knocked out to leave just ten remaining. The final ten then have ten further minutes to set a new quickest time, and it is the fastest man in that session who will lead the cars across the start line on Sunday evening.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton are the two men to watch come qualification time. Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Mark Webber started from the front of the grid in Japan, but prior to Suzuka Vettel and Hamilton had shared pole in eight successive races dating back to the Canadian Grand Prix in early June. The pit lane is full of the world’s fastest drivers, but when it comes to being a one lap specialist Hamilton and Vettel are just one tyre roll ahead of the field, in 2013 at any rate.
Sunday November 3 Sunday is the third, final and most important day of the weekend, because it’s race day. Vettel, who is on track to become this year’s F1 champion for the fourth straight year, currently holds the lap record for Abu Dhabi, which he set during the city’s inaugural race in 2009, clocking a time of one minute, 40.279 seconds. When asked about the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix the German said, ‘In just three years, the race has grown to be one of the highlights of the season,’ and is quick to reminisce about the ‘special memories’ he has of the circuit thanks to his two consecutive wins in 2009 and 2010. He also enjoys the almost unique challenge that the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix presents drivers with, namely a race that transitions from day to night during the action, a sentiment echoed by teammate Mark Webber, ‘I like the twilight element to the race – starting in the day and finishing at night,’ says the Australian.
Webber is also full of praise for the Yas Marina circuit itself and the test it provides for the drivers. ‘You need good traction – there are slow and twisty corners – as well as a good top speed,’ he says. It is this need to have a strong car across different testing areas that makes the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix one of the most unpredictable, and also one of the most exciting, races of the year. Fin Kimi Räikkönen won a topsy-turvy race from the second row of the grid in 2012, grabbing his first chequered flag since returning to F1 from a two-year hiatus. If last year taught us anything, it’s to expected the unexpected.
One man who does have high expectations is Brit Lewis Hamilton, who has been in better form in his first year as a driver with Mercedes than his results might suggest. Hamilton, who currently sits fourth in the Driver’s Standings, has conceded the title to Vettel for yet another year, but is expecting to challenge come race day. ‘The facilities in Abu Dhabi are absolutely fantastic – probably the best of any circuit in the world,’ Hamilton says. ‘It’s a track where you can really push the car, which is what I most enjoy,’ he continues. ‘There are a wide variety of corners – I love the fast sweeps in the first sector – and it’s incredibly satisfying to hook together a good sector through the tricky Marina section of the lap.’
Hamilton certainly talks a good race, but will that be enough to topple Vettel from his seemingly invincible position atop the F1 tree? Will one of the three other former world champions, Räikkönen, Spain’s Fernando Alonso or Britain’s Jenson Button rediscover their winning ways? Or will it be Mark Webber who conquers his teammate in what will surely be his last ever Abu Dhabi Grand Prix?
We can’t answer that question for you. But we can tell you one thing for certain, we’re going to be in the stands watching every minute of the gripping action to find out, and hopefully you will be too. See you track-side.
Party VIP Style
If Formula 1 is known for one thing, it’s glitz and glamour, so it’s not surprising that when the show rolls into town, the A-listers and VIP nightclubs follow in hot pursuit. If hitting the town and dancing til the sun comes up is your thing then this weekend will be the biggest on your calendar for 2013. The parties are many and varied, but we’ve picked our favourites going on around the city. Make sure you get to as many as possible before the weekend is over.
Singapore based VIP party specialists The Podium Lounge are coming to Abu Dhabi for the first time for F1 weekend. The party, taking place at the Marina Rooftop Pool at Yas Viceroy, will tak place on all three race weekend nights, and will be presided over by global superstar DJs Sander Kleinenberg and Seb Fontaine. TOAD caught up with both to get their take on the weekend.
Have you been to Abu Dhabi before? What are you expecting from the club scene here? I have had the pleasure of being in Abu Dhabi before! I DJed during F1 at SKYBAR alongside Basement Jaxx and Ferry Corsten in 2010, which was a great weekend. The F1 in Abu Dhabi is one of the best of the racing season in my opinion.
What can we expect from the Podium Lounge in Abu Dhabi?
I’m expecting an "up for it" and ready to party crowd. And with Dubai so close to town, I’m sure there will be a great mix of people from all over the region coming.
You’ve been in the scene since you were 15 – what are some of the ups and downs you’ve gone through on your musical journey? It comes as a shock, but life on the road and always working on weekends can be pretty lonely. I've always felt that the biggest sacrifice is not having a healthy social life. But the rewards are also plenty – there is obviously the recognition, which fuels my drive and ambition. Also, the traveling is fantastic and a true blessing.
You’ve grown as a music-maker through the years – how has your sound evolved? I think my sound has been pretty steady throughout the years, the bpm (beats per minute) has gone down a bit, but generally the textures have been the same. I like soulful, deep underground house music as well as a funnier gimmicky commercial sound – a mix of those two worlds is where you will always find me. I find it most rewarding and challenging to be on the edge of those two.
Can you share with us your secret to success? The difference between success and failure is giving up – I truly believe that. For every record I have released, there are ten I didn't. For every gig I have done, there is one that didn't happen. My motto is: never give up!
Why will Podium Lounge be the best party of the F1 weekend? The guys from Podium Lounge are in this game to throw the best parties because they do it for themselves more than anything, and those kind of promoters are the best in the business. It will be magical as well because of the venue, the Yas Viceroy are hosting a party and last but not least Bouji's (the event partners), Seb Fontaine and myself have some experience in making sure people have a good time.
Have you been to Abu Dhabi before? Of course, it's a great place to DJ in general but Podium Lounge is special and will be something amazing at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
What are you expecting from the club scene here?
Having done many Podium Lounges over the years I’m sure that it will continue its amazing track record of marrying great Djs (I would say that) and the excitement of F1 at one of the best and newest circuits in the F1 season.
You did your first DJ gig in 1988 – how different were things back then in the industry as compared to now?
Things have changed in every aspect of the business, some for the better and some not so much. The ease brought by the internet made finding records so simple now, but sometimes it’s nice to get out of the house, go looking for music and talk to other like-minded people and support grassroots music. The whole record shop industry is virtually non-existent and that’s a real shame. However, there are plenty of aspects, especially the ease that you can be creative with your own sound, that were never an option back in the day – so plenty to be happy about.
How has your sound changed and progressed through the years?
Sometimes hearing an old mix tape or album makes me realise how much my sound has changed and progressed through the years. The funny thing is there have rarely been times that I made a ‘style changing decision’; it has generally been an evolution influenced by places I was going and what was going on in dance music at the time.
What are some of your favourite classic records that never fail to get the party started?
‘French Kiss’, ‘Voodoo Ray’… it’s generally the ‘birth of house music’ tunes that float my boat at a party. Other than that, there are just too many good tunes and too many reasons why you should be dancing.
What can we expect from the Podium Lounge in Abud Dhabi?
The best party F1 has to offer with the best people............ The Podium Lounge takes place on Fri Nov 1, Sat Nov 2 and Sun Nov 2 at Yas Viceroy. For tickets and VIP tables visit www.podiumlounge.com/ae OR www.timeouttickets.com
TOAD sat down with Amber Lounge Owner and Founder Sonia Irvine to get the inside track on Formula 1’s most glamourous F1 after party.
Tell us a bit about the venue for Amber Lounge Abu Dhabi 2013.
Well we’re very excited to bring Amber Lounge back to Abu Dhabi during Amber Lounge’s 10 year anniversary and for Abu Dhabi’s 5th Grand Prix. I am personally extremely pleased with our luxurious new venue at the Yas Marina, I simply cannot think of a more glamorous setting than Yas Marina during Abu Dhabi’s Race Week to host Amber Lounge for our guests. We’re already constructing our signature bespoke setting as we speak, so we guarantee that Amber Lounge’s guests can look forward to another unforgettable experience this year.
It’s Amber Lounge’s 10th Anniversary, can we expect to see anything special in Abu Dhabi to celebrate that?
This year we have a fantastic line-up of DJs and an exclusive performance from the Far East Movement. We’ve got a smaller capacity of just 800 this year so Amber Lounge Abu Dhabi guests will experience a very up-close and personal performance by an LA-based group, who achieved an overwhelming success and collaborated with everyone from Justin Bieber to Flo-Rida, Pitbull and Tyga and toured with Rihanna, LMFAO, Lil Wayne and Lady Gaga.
What is the Amber Lounge Yacht?
The Amber Lounge Yacht is a concept created in Monte-Carlo and it was such a success at the Monaco Grand Prix, that we decided to do it in Abu Dhabi. We offer F1 driver appearances and all our AL Celebrities watch the race on board. We’ve gone for a tri-deck as the barriers are high and we want our guests to have the best views possible of the race. There are only a few places left on the yacht for this year, and they can be booked by email email@example.com or by calling 0566949089.
Will any Formula 1 drivers be attending the party this year?
Always! We have a good line up of driver tables booked inside the club but we will never say who is going to be there until after the event. Kimi Räikkönen who won Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year celebrated with us. This year Nico Rosberg who won Monaco Grand Prix came to celebrate at Amber Lounge and at our last event in Singapore we had 16 drivers.
What makes Amber Lounge stand out as the place to be during the Formula 1 weekend? We know what the key ingredients for an amazing event are and we deliver them. We’ve been around for 10 years now, so we know how to set things up to make people want to relax, mingle and party... and of course, F1 people are a fun crowd. The drivers always want to relax after a race and head to Amber Lounge. For Amber Lounge Abu Dhabi bookings please contact (+971) 0552 914 013 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
O1NE Bar The team behind SKYBAR, Beirut’s iconic nightlife venue, is back in Abu Dhabi but this time for good as O1NE Yas Island opens its doors for the first time on 31st October.
With an exterior completely covered in dazzling urban art, the 1,000 person capacity venue strikes a unmissable figure on the Abu Dhabi skyline. However, before too long it will be what’s going on inside, rather than outside, that will have UAE party goers sitting up and taking note.
Ludacris and Ciara will be performing at O1NE BAR’s official launch night on Thursday October 31, but the F1 fun won’t stop there. Labrinth and Sean Kingston are in the house on Friday November 1, Swedish singer John Martin (who is better known for his collaborations with Swedish House Mafia and Avicii) will headline on Saturday November 2 and German house DJ Solomun will orchestrate the post race part on Sunday November 3. For O1NE Bar reservations call +971 52 788 8111 or email O1NEYasISland@sky-management.net
Iris One of the newest venues on the Abu Dhabi landscape, IRIS Yas Island is going to be on the lips of Abu Dhabi residents long after F1 weekend has finished.
The party will take place all weekend, including when the race is shown IRIS’ giant TV screens, but the highlight of the weekend will be Saturday evening, when the venue will be transformed into The White Room, a super luxe décor party space packed out with enormous LED screens and thumping baselines. Iris can be found at Building 1, Yas Marina. (055 160 5636 for more info)
Cirque Le Soir Roll up, roll up, because the dark and decadent circus of the night has arrived in Abu Dhabi. Cirque Le Soir, the fantastically surreal big top themed clubbing experience, is already an institution in London and Dubai, but is now making its way to the UAE capital to jump in on the F1 after party act.
Nelly (Fri Nov 1) and Akon (Sat Nov 2) will headline the evening’s entertainment, but with fire breathers, stilt walkers, sword swallowers and all other manner of circus décor to thrill clientele there’s much more to an evening here than just the music acts.
CODE 20, masters of the Grand Prix closing party, are sure to pull drivers, teams, sponsors and celebs through the door all night long, so if you fancy rubbing shoulders with your favourite racer then get down to Rush@Yas Viceroy on Sunday night.
Cirque Le Soir are also kicking off their F1 weekend celebrations with a brunch from 2pm – 7pm, where you can also view the action from the venue’s trackside vistas, so you can really start your night in style before the sun goes down. Cirque Le Soir is taking place at Yas Viceroy. Brunch is open 2pm-7pm, the nightclub is open 7pm-4am. For ticket inquiries contact email@example.com.
This year’s schedule sees four post-race concerts on the calendar at Yas Island’s du Arena, kicking off on Thursday October 31 with three Arabic megastars – Amr Diab, the biggest-selling Arab recording artist of all time, Emirati singer Hussain Al Jassmi and glamorous Lebanese pop star Elissa.
But it’s Friday November 1 that will play host to arguably the most talked about international act to visit Abu Dhabi this year, when US hip-hop artist Jay Z will take the stage. Mr Beyonce Knowles has told organisers he ‘can’t wait to get up in front of the UAE crowd’, promising a special show for his first performance in the region.
On Saturday 2, Grammy award-winning English rockers Muse, fronted by Matt Bellamy, will hit the stage for what is sure to be an electrifying set, with renditions of everything from ‘Time is Running Out’ and ‘Hysteria’ from UK number one album Absolution, right up to tracks from their 2012 effort The 2nd Law.
The after-race concerts culminate on Sunday following the Grand Prix, with a live performance from British electro group Depeche Mode, who are a band with more than 100 million album sales to their name, as well as being pioneers of the post-punk music era in the UK. Visit www.yasmarinacircuit.com
Formula One for free
The racing this weekend doesn’t have to be hard on your wallet – there are plenty of free events to enjoy, even as F1 fever hits its high.
Beats on the Beach
As we’re sure you’ll know, Beats on the Beach is taking place this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and should prove to be a massive event on the Corniche – if you can make it, it’ll definitely be worth the trip. There have been some big new additions to the line-up, too; Ludacris, Sean Kingston and Labrinth will all appear at the beach-bound spectacle. Not only do we have these world-class acts performing right here in Abu Dhabi, it’s completely free too!
Rapper and entrepreneur Ludacris will be gracing Abu Dhabi with his magnetic persona; most recently you may have seen him in movies such as Fast & Furious 6, but on November 1 prepare to witness his more musical side – and a charismatic performance, too – with hits like ‘Get Back’ and ‘Stand Up’.
Hip hop and R&B sensation Sean Kingston is a regular to the UAE, but his debut in Abu Dhabi will be bringing the house (or beach) down on November 1. His world-wide smash hit ‘Beautiful Girl’ regularly fills dance floors, and the chance to see this multi-million selling artist perform will make for a similarly smashing evening.
Following up on November 2 will be Labrinth, the British star who’s made a name for himself appearing alongside other performers, such as on Tinie Tempah’s ‘Pass Out’, and forging his own big hit ‘Let The Sun Shine’. He looks set to wow the audience at Beats on the Beach with his mix of anthemic and eclectic styles.
At 28 years old, Ciara will be bringing her electrifying stage presence to the Corniche on November 1. Her songwriting is at the fore of her musical prowess, which she’s enjoyed the fruits of since 2004 with her radio-hugging tunes ‘1, 2 Step’ and ‘Oh’. The Grammy-nominated artist should show Abu Dhabi how to dance this Friday.
Mr Pure Energy himself, Gary Valencio, will be heading up the first ever Filipino Night at Beats on the Beach. Bringing 11 Awit Awards with him to Abu Dhabi (and a mix of tunes from across his staggering 26 albums), the six-time platinum superstar should make the crowd feel particularly super on October 31.
For all the racing enthusiasts out there who need to be as close to the action itself, the F1 Fanzone is set up to involve you in the Grand Prix experience. Among the entertainment on offer are race simulators. If you want to appreciate the kind of speeds that drivers are used to, the motion simulator offers an insight into the incredible forces that operate on an F1 car. Or, there’s a more ‘real-life’ ride that simulates a straight-up race.
If you see yourself as more of a mechanic than a driver, there’s the pit-stop challenge. Test your speed at changing the tyres of a replica F1 car. And if you want a souvenir for your day at F1 Fanzone, there’s the photo finish podium to take advantage of.
Among other things, there’s always the chance of driver appearances and assorted musical performances over the extravaganza so get down to the Corniche. F1 Fanzone is open now until Sunday November 3. East Plaza, Corniche www.yasalam.ae.
Raising the Bar
So where can you watch the race itself? We pick out the best bars to enjoy the Grand Prix.
Even though Cooper’s is out near Khalifa Park, it’s a favourite resort for sport-inclined expats for good reason. With big screens dotted all around the bar, you won’t have to worry about missing any of the action. Park Rotana, Khalifa Park (02 657 3333).
Expect Heroes at Crowne Plaza to be heaving for the Grand Prix. Filled with widescreen TVs for your F1-viewing pleasure, you can kick back and enjoy some calamari, mozzarella sticks or nachos to help alleviate the tension unfolding onscreen. Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, Hamdan Street (02 616 6101).
Providing a loud, outdoors sports experience, NRG is perhaps the best place to go this F1 weekend for community spirit alone. The bar is part of the Le Méridien’s substantial garden area with loads of other dining and drinking options, so you’ll probably be surrounded by F1 fans making for a great atmosphere. Le Méridien, Tourist Club Area (02 644 6666).