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Published: November 26th 2018
I wake up in panic. There is a knock on the door. Jesus have I overslept. I stagger bleary eyed to the door to find Lisa. “You wanted me to wake you for your run”. This was not mentioned the night before and it was apparent that Lisa had dreamt the whole thing. She apologised and I close the door I collapse back into bed look at my phone and it is just after 6am. Having got to sleep at 2 am last night I receded back into sleep until my alarm went off at 9.30. The usual morning routine takes place. I shower, dress and sit down for a cup of percolated coffee before departing to Denny’s to get our fill before we get the taxi to Yas Island. Today is race day and as the schedule is pretty packed we make sure we eat enough as we won’t be back home until after 1am tonight. My early morning alarm friend finishes work at 11am and she joins us for breakfast. She is full of apology and I said I didn’t blame her as it was only natural to dream of me. After we had settled the bill Nick and myself said our goodbyes to the ladies and we jumped into a taxi who took us to Yas. There was a significant breeze today and the air was thick with sand blowing in from the desert. Once out of the city the usual skyline is invisible behind the haze. If the weather stays windy it could make the racing a little more interesting.
We jump out of the taxi at Yas circuit and no sooner had the taxi rounded the bend I realised that I had left my vape in the bloody thing. Well there was no way of getting it back I would just have to manage without it. Decidedly pissed off with myself I told myself I was not allowed to harm anyone in the process of withdrawal.
We made our way up to grandstand and to our seats. The crowd was minimal for this small F3 race. Although the air temperature was the hottest it had been this weekend, the breeze made it feel cooler. We watched the first race and retreated out of the sun behind the grandstand and found ourself a beanbag to collapse on. We had an hour until the next F2 race so we snoozed whilst listening to the music from the main stage. I drifted in and out of sleep until over the PA behind us I became aware that the F2 race had begun. The din of the cars leaving the line at high speed confirmed this to me. I looked at Nick and we both looked at our watches. The bloody race had begun 15 minutes early. We got up and made our way up to our seats where we settled down to watch the rest of the race. The noise is truly deafening and I feel the last few days taking effect and the result of noise, lack of sleep and dehydration had produced an ever increasing head ache.
After the race finished I was relieved to be able to relax as the F1 start process lasts for several hours with driver photos, parade and grid preparations taking an age. I nip down stairs and buy several bottles of water for the main race before returning to our seats. As the grid becomes increasingly busier hoards of people start to come down to the front to lean on the railing and to watch the track below. There is little consideration to the people who are sitting there (Nick and myself being 2 of them) and they will happily stand in front and block your view. Preempting this we both stood up and squarely protected our area. Over the next hour we watch as the grid is filled with tv crews, cars and teams, drivers and famous faces. We recognise a few faces out there Will Smith, Sam Smith (not related), the Princess of Monaco, Ginger spice and a few others. I was most impressed with Billy Monger walking past us with the Sky sports team. Billy, who was 17 at the time, lost his legs in a horrific crash last year, he was told due to rules he would never drive competitively in single seater cars again. He fought his way back to fitness and wen to the FIA in Paris and got the rules changed to allow disabled drivers to compete at the highest levels. In his first season back he came 4th in the British F3 championship. It is his intention to race at the highest level and he was in Abu Dhabi as a guest of Lewis and also trying to find a seat for next year in the European F3 or F2.
The race eventually counts down to its start and with a flypast by the Etihad jumbo during the national anthem signalling the start of the race. We are told to take our seats and a hoard of people who do not belong on the front row have to move up to their seats. In the distance rain clouds are building and the commentator states there is a 40% chance of rain. Maybe there was something in this seeding story. The cars leave the main pit straight on their warm up lap and we sit with nervous anticipation. Rounding the final bend the cars line up in their qualifying order and the start light sequence begins (1 light) the gears clunk into position (2 lights) The engines fire up to high revs (3 lights) our whole body shakes with the thunderous sound (4 lights) Driver deciding which way to defend (5lights) all focus forward and the race goal. The lights turn off and 20 of the most technically advancing racing cars thunder down the track towards the first bend. The noise is palpable and truly awe inspiring. The noise subsided and periodically the noise increases as the track loops back to another bend near the central hub before going out to the periphery of the circuit. The race is quite a standard affair for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Pole-man Lewis Hamilton controls the race from the start slipping down the order with an early pit stop following a nasty looking crash involving Hulkenberg who became a passenger of his flipping car which eventually settled upside down- he got out fine. The race involved pit stop strategies and minimal overtaking. The rain that threatened only briefly fell but was not heavy enough to alter the outcome of the race (although Lisa and Bethany said it poured down on the main island) and Lewis went on to win the final race and truly seal his world title with a couple of wins back to back. The lead drivers of Hamilton and Vettel lead Fernando Alonso down to the pit-straight where the three proceeded to perform donuts for the crowd. The air was chokingly thick with burnt rubber smoke. An amazing sights. The podium presentation marked the end to the Formula One season and the end of our weekend at the race track. I was truly impressed about the professionalism, cleanliness and well organised that this event was. Other events around the world could have learnt a lot from it. The only disappointment was that the fireworks that are world famous did not happen due to adverse weather conditions (the winds had picked up).
During the event I finally caught up with my friend from Mercedes. We chatted briefly before she gave me a couple of Golden Circle passes for the Guns and Roses show, and it was here that we were heading. The arena was becoming packed by the time we got there and once we deposited Nicks bag we made our way into the golden circle area. We were metres from the stage. After a couple of beers the lights went out and Guns and Roses hit the stage. I thought it may be a train wreck of a show but the band were incredible. Slash and his guitar playing were on another level. As a musician I could only stand in awe of his mastery of the Les Paul he was yielding. Axel Rose was also good although he didn’t look healthy. His waxy skin was stretched on a flabby body and he looked terrible. But his voice was pretty damn good to be honest. He did inform us that he had been ill throughout the day and they had considered cancelling the concert, hopefully this had gone some way of causing his shocking appearance. Even though the lead singer was ill they still managed a 2 hour show although most of their greatest hits were missing from the repertoire. When they left the stage it remained prepared for an encore return before the main lights came up and obviously illness had caused a premature end to proceedings.
We made our way out of the arena and followed directions to the Yas Island Mall to pick up a taxi. The route promised was closed off and we staggered through a dimly lit area that was , grass, sand and weeds. I was worried that Jamie would have his wish and a scorpion would attach itself to my bare leg but unluckily for him and lucky for me this did not happen. After an hour of queuing we finally got a taxi. This had obviously been a busy weekend for all as our taxi driver was very tired. We could tell this as he kept falling asleep and drifting into the path of heavy goods vehicles. We talked louder and louder in a hope of waking him up. I think he spent more time driving along the rumble strip than he did on the actual road. After only avoiding soiling myself by a thread we arrived at Denny’s.
It was 1.30am and we hadn’t eaten since this morning so we took full advantage of the 24 hour opening times and had our fill of burgers, chips and onion rings. We got back to the flat and we were both knackered. There was no way that I was going to be able to manage a blog hence the lateness.
We will run one day behind for the rest of the holiday.
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