In the space of five years, the race has become a modern-day classic to rival any other sporting event in the world. And with the freight not due to arrive from India until Tuesday evening last week, team personnel up and down the pitlane had a couple of days to indulge in some of the very best that the region has to offer.
A group of Williams mechanics went on a motorbike safari in Dubai; a couple of drivers – who’ve asked to remain nameless – went skydiving and there was plenty to be getting on with on Yas Island, the man-made land mass on which the Yas Marina circuit was built.
The Yas Links golf course was a home from home for Max Chilton, Eddie Jordan, Heikki Kovalainen and Lewis Hamilton, and the Ferrari mechanics were given free entry to Ferrari World, the enormous shrine to the Prancing Horse that lies adjacent to the Yas Marina circuit. It has a host of Ferrari road cars in it, as well as a cinema telling the Ferrari story and a roller-coaster that Fernando Alonso reckons has better acceleration than an F1 car. For those of you interested in obscure facts, Ferrari World has the largest roof in the world and can be seen from space.
The fun doesn’t stop there: adjacent to Ferrari World is the recently opened Yas Waterworld. The F1 paddock, including many drivers, flocked there most evenings. “It’s amazing,” said Pastor Maldonado.
If all that wasn’t enough, the race organisers laid on three fabulous concerts each evening. On Friday the hip-hop tunes of Jay-Z echoed around the Island; on Saturday it was Muse’s turn and Depeche Mode brought down the curtain after the race on Sunday evening.
As for the on-track action, this race was all about one man: Sebastian Vettel. The four-time champion was pipped to pole position by his Red Bull Racing team-mate Mark Webber, but the race result was never in doubt after he took the lead at Turn 1 and he won by 30s from Webber.
Nico Rosberg put in a fabulous drive to finish third for Mercedes AMG Petronas, just 2.8s behind Webber. It was his first podium finish in Abu Dhabi and came a week after he’d finished second in India – his first back-to-back podiums since the 2010 Malaysian and Chinese Grands Prix.
F1 now has a weekend off, prior to the final double-header of the season. Red Bull might have wrapped up both world titles, but the battle for second place in the constructors’ championship remains intense between two Puma-clad teams: Mercedes AMG Petronas lead Scuderia Ferrari by just 11 points. Let the battle between them recommence in Austin, Texas on 17 November!