Your trackside guide to Yas Marina for the upcoming Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix on November 25-27, 2016. Includes detailed advice on F1 concerts, Ferrari World and more.
The Editor attended the 2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. All images © Tomasz Cwiklinski & F1Destinations.com.
Yas Island Marina is a veritable playground for the F1 fanatic, adrenaline junkie and gastronome. In addition to the F1 circuit, the island complex also boasts a world-class marina rivalling Monaco for glamor, two huge theme parks (Ferrari World and Waterworld), concert area, shopping, restaurants and more! Most of the on-track action takes place in the afternoon, leaving you the morning to check out the rest of the island’s attractions. New for 2017, F1 ticket holders get free access to Ferrari World and Yas Water World on the days of the Grand Prix. A good reason to get to Yas Marina early on race weekend!
After the sun has gone down and the cars have left the track, there are some big name acts playing trackside concerts, including this year’s headliners The Chemical Brothers (Friday), Lionel Richie (Saturday) and Rihanna (Sunday).
Access and Orientation
A total of seven access gates provide access to the circuit on the main access road which runs around the North and West of the circuit (download a map below). Free shuttle buses run regularly between the entrances and provide easy access to all of the main grandstands, marina, hotels, Du Arena (where the concerts are held) and Ferrari World. The exception is the Main Grandstand, which is accessed by entering through Gate 14 and walking through the tunnel at Gate 16 to the inside of the circuit. It’s not possible to bring any food and drinks into the circuit and smoking is banned in all grandstands. Read Getting Around for more information on getting to Yas Marina circuit.
As well as almost seven hours of F1 action on the track at Yas Marina, you will also get to see two races apiece (plus practice and qualifying) from F1’s two main feeder series, GP2 and GP3. There’s also a pitlane walk for holders of 3-day tickets on Thursday afternoon, which is normally held from 12:00-16:00. The final event schedule for 2016 will be finalized closer to the race weekend, but shouldn’t change much from the 2015 schedule, which we have published below.
Friday, November 25
- 10:00-10:45: GP3 Practice
- 11:15-12:00: GP2 Practice
- 13:00-14:30: Formula 1 Practice 1
- 15:00-15:30: GP3 Qualifying
- 17:00-18:30: Formula 1 Practice 2
- 19:00-19:30: GP2 Qualifying
Saturday, November 26
- 12:05-12:40: GP3 Race 1 (14 laps)
- 14:00-15:00: Formula 1 Practice 3
- 17:00-18:00: Formula 1 Qualifying
- 18:40-19:45: GP2 Race 1 (31 laps)
Sunday, November 27
- 13:00-13:35: GP3 Race 2 (14 laps)
- 14:20-15:10: GP2 Race 2 (22 laps)
- 15:30-15:45: F1 Driver’s Track Parade
- 17:00-19:00: 2016 Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix
Need to Know
- It can be very hot before the sun goes down at Yas Marina, so wear light clothing (but retain modesty, you are in a Muslim country) and wear a hat and sunscreen. Taking a change of clothes for the concert is also a good idea.
- ATMs are located in each grandstand; you can pay for merchandise and other larger purchases with a credit card.
- Smoking is prohibited in all Grandstands and inside the circuit buildings.
- Stay up to date with what’s happening during the weekend by downloading the free YasHub app for IOS / Android. Follow Yas Marina circuit on Facebook and Twitter to find out about competitions, special promotions and changes to the schedule.
- Want to visit the circuit on another weekend? Yas Marina circuit runs regular daily tours throughout the year, taking in the grandstands, race control, media center and paddock area. Priced from 60 AED ($16 USD). Click here to book. If you are brave (and have deeper pockets), you can also hit the track as a passenger or driver in a supercar or open seat racer. Details here.
2016 Abu Dhabi F1 Concerts
Abu Dhabi has taken a leaf out of Singapore’s book by signing up big name artists for its post-race concerts and this year is no exception. Having played host to Enrique Iglesias, Jay-Z, Kylie, Muse and Prince, Pharrell Williams and The Who in recent years, this time around the headliners are The Chemical Brothers (Friday night), Lionel Richie (Saturday night) and Rihanna (Sunday night). F1 ticketholders get free entry, provided you have a valid ticket for the day when the concert happens. The concerts take place in Du Arena (behind the North grandstand, near Ferrari world), which is an impressive concert venue with excellent facilities, including bars serving expensive alcohol and food trucks. Gates to the concerts open at 19:00, but the main headline acts generally don’t come on until closer to 21:00, which makes for a long day (especially if you’ve chosen to stay further afield in Dubai, for example).
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
Holders of F1 tickets get free entry to Ferrari World on 2017 Grand Prix weekend. From our experience last year, Ferrari World is worth checking out for the experience of riding the world’s fastest rollercoaster (Formula Rossa, which hits speeds of up to 240 km/hr and is amazing!) but pretty underwhelming otherwise, making it hard to justify the high ticket prices. There are some legendary Ferraris on display, but you can see equally awesome supercars everywhere in the UAE, and the rides, games, galleries and experiences will not keep you busy much beyond an hour or two. Your kids will probably disagree with our assessment.
- General admission – or Bronze – access to Ferrari World costs 275 AED ($75 USD) for adults and 230 AED for children under 1.3 meters in height. There are ticket upgrades (Silver, Gold) which cost more and allow you to jump queues. This could be worthwhile on the days either side of the race weekend when lots of fans attend, but wasn’t necessary on Friday between FP1 and FP2 (when we went last year).
- Opening hours are from 11:00 – 20:00, every day.
- Click here for more information and to buy tickets online.
Holders of F1 tickets get free entry to Yas Waterworld on 2017 Grand Prix weekend. Boasting 43 rides, slides and attractions, Yas Marina is a huge waterpark spread over 15 hectares on Yas Island. General Admission costs 240 AEd ($65) for those over 1.1m tall. Junior Admission for those under 1.1m tall is around 20% cheaper. Yas Waterworld is open from 10:00-19:00. Find out more and book your tickets by clicking here.
No visit to the Yas Marina circuit would be complete without a visit to the Marina, even if it is just to see how the other half lives. Monaco meets the Middle East as the rich and famous gather on superyachts and in expensive bars and restaurants to watch the action. Incredibly, entrance is free on Grand Prix weekend (even if you don’t have an F1 ticket), though you can’t go too far without the right credentials. There’s even a small section of track where you can watch the action on the outside of turn 19 (between numbers 17 and 20 on this Yas Marina map).
Want to get your own sunset photos that the circuit is famous for? Head to the area outside the track (near the apex of turn 19) before the entrance to the Marina, and join the official photographers. There are some trees and a fence, but you can get uninterrupted shots like we did below last year. No F1 ticket required! Don’t forget that sunset is at around 17:30 local time (during FP2 on Friday, qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday).
Yas Marina is a modern circuit and the facilities are world class. There are several food and drink areas dotted around the circuit and close to the main spectator areas: North Oasis (close to the North Grandstand), West Oasis (next to the West Grandstand), South Oasis (between the Marina and South Grandstands) and the F1 Village (behind the Main Grandstand). Food and drink are reasonably priced (alcohol is available, but expensive) but the food selection is mostly limited to fast-food type options. If you want a better selection of affordable (and not so affordable) food you can head to the shopping center next to Ferrari World or join the rich and famous at the eateries in the Marina.
Have you been to Yas Marina circuit? Leave a comment below and tells us about your experience.
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