Once again, champion drivers Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso will descend on the capital of the UAE for the 2013 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Grand Prix. Coverage will be brought to us by the BBC (from 8.55am, Nov 1, on BBC Radio 5 live and all day on Sky Sports F1).
If this gear-head epicentre gets your heart racing, why not visit the glamorous backdrop for real and drive the Yas Marina circuit in an F1 car? There’s plenty to do in this Arabian wonderland from cruising on long open roads, 4×4 driving in the desert and riding car-themed rollercoasters at Ferrari World. Follow our car addict’s guide to the city…
This city loves fast cars so much that they’ve dedicated 200,000 m2 of space to all things Ferrari. The Ferrari theme park on Yas Island has the faster rollercoaster in the world – Formula Rossa – which will throw you around at 150mph, almost as fast as a Ferrari. There’s also a factory tour, where fans can learn the history of the cars, watch how the vehicles are assembled, see how a pit crew operates, and experience the rush of driving one for real. In the park they offer drives in a 430 GT Spider. www.ferrariworldabudhabi.com
Explore the neighbouring desert with a thrilling dune bashing session. The experienced drivers at Explorer tours take visitors into the Liwa desert on the outskirts of Rub Al-Khali, one of the largest sand deserts in the world, which separates the UAE from Saudi Arabia, and Saudi from Oman and Yemen. Here there are some of the most spectacular and challenging dunes on the planet, plus wild gazelle and camels.
Yas Marina Circuit
It’s actually possible to tear up the region’s legendary Yas Marnina Circuit in a classic car. Choose from the iconic Aston MartinGT4, the futuristic Mercedes AMG or a custom Formula Yas 3000 like a professional racing driver, revving a 3000cc V6 engine.
When in Rome… hire a bling sports car. Drive around like a flashy local in a Maserati GranTurismo MC Stradale, with its aerodynamic curves, racing car power and space for all the family, it’s the ideal way to see the sights of the city and cruise along the scenic, empty desert roads nearby. The UAE has a few epic roads to cruise; if you’re in the mood for a world class drive head for Jebel Hafeet, with 60 race-track-worthy twist and turns up Hafeet mountain. www.drivearabia.com
Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque
Have a pit stop at this incredibly elaborate mosque, built by the UAE’s late ruler, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, in memory of his father. Located at the edge of the city, near the Maktaa Bridge, the impressive structure is a great landmark for road users. If you like what you see, visit the Emirates Palace next. This seven-star hotel offers one of the most decadent stays on the planet and is an excellent place to spot collectors cars, owned by royal and affluent guests.