5 Fascinating Facts That Make the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Unique

November brings the FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX 2019 and it promises to be just as exciting as ever. This season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is in its 11th year at the Yas Marina circuit. Here, we celebrate everything that makes this race and venue unique.

1. It’s the only Formula 1 race to begin in daylight and end in the dark

Since its inauguration in 2009, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has been the only twilight Formula 1 race.  It is scheduled to begin around 30 minutes before sunset, so it begins in daylight and ends in the dark.

A permanent lighting system is switched on before the race begins. This makes the transition from light to dark straightforward for drivers and overcomes safety issues. However, some drivers do begin the race with dark tear-offs attached to their visors, which they remove during the race.

Spectators enjoy the action from one of five grandstands, all of which are fully covered. An incredible atmosphere is provided by the 60 000 fans present, many of whom are enjoying the exciting bonuses that come with Grand Prix hospitality packages. The event is popular in the Formula 1 calendar and nearly always sells out.

2. It takes place on the incredible Yas Island, next door to three theme parks

Just as remarkable as the race itself, the home of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the incredible Yas Island. This enormous development is a multi-purpose area for shopping, dining, leisure, and entertainment, as well as being the home of Formula 1 racing in Abu Dhabi. It’s situated around 35 kilometers from downtown Abu Dhabi, close to the international airport.

Some of the other attractions that share Yas Island include several theme parks: Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, and Seaworld Abu Dhabi. There’s also a beach, a marina, a mall, and both indoor and outdoor concert venues.

There are many hotels and restaurants, where you can experience one of Abu Dhabi’s famous brunches. It’s such a great destination that in 2009, Yas Island was named the world’s leading tourism project by the World Travel Awards.

Those spectators who wish to experience G-force at the same levels as a Formula 1 driver can try the world’s fastest roller coaster, the Formula Rossa ride at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. It’s so fast, goggles are needed for the ride.

3. It’s known for its long straight and tight hairpins

The Abu Dhabi circuit requires drivers to complete 55 laps of 5.554km and a total distance of 305.470km. It was created by renowned circuit designer Herman Tilke at a reported cost of more than $1bn USD.

For some time, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix had the longest straight of the season. This year it’s been overtaken by Azerbaijan, but it still comes a close second. The straight is thought to offer the best chance for drivers to overtake, but a counter-challenge is possible immediately after in the chicane that follows.

Bends are accompanied by large run-off areas which mean drivers can often fall into the trap of braking too late. Pit lane entry and its tunnel exit are said to be difficult, too. It’s also one of only five anti-clockwise circuits. The Abu Dhabi circuit provides many challenges for drivers.

4. It may provide the championship decider

Abu Dhabi has frequently been the last race of the Formula 1 season and, therefore, has often provided the deciding race. In 2019, once again, the season ends in Abu Dhabi.

In 2010, as many as four drivers started the race with hopes of winning the championship. Sebastian Vettel took the crown in a thrilling showdown. It was also the scene of the controversial double-points race which led Lewis Hamilton to victory over Nico Rosberg in 2014. Two years later, Rosberg took revenge and won the championship after a gripping season of rivalry between the two drivers.

This season, Lewis Hamilton is hoping to hang on to his crown and win a sixth driver’s championship, which would take him close to record-holder Michael Schumacher’s seven.

5. Several of this year’s drivers have great records here that they’ll be looking to maintain

Believe it or not, the driver sitting in pole position has only won five of Abu Dhabi’s ten Grand Prix races, including Lewis Hamilton in 2018. He has the best record in Abu Dhabi, having won four of the ten. Rival Sebastian Vettel has won three.

Perhaps the most popular victory, however, was Kimi Räikkönen’s in 2012 for Lotus. En route to winning the race, a team engineer’s update was given a now-famous curt response by Räikkönen: ‘Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing.’

The most successful team is clearly Mercedes. They’ve won all of the last five Formula 1 races held here. Can they make it a sixth for the team and a fifth for Lewis Hamilton in 2019?   


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.


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