x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

6,000 fans treated to a glimpse of life in the F1 pit lane

More than 6,000 get a first look at the track for the pit lane walk ahead of today's practice.

Fans take part in the pit walk day at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Fans take part in the pit walk day at the Yas Marina Circuit.

ABU DHABI // Race fans from all over the world crammed into the pit lane at Yas Marina Circuit yesterday to get a look at some of the most finely tuned and engineered racing machines in the world.

Drenched in the afternoon sunshine, more than 6,000 people got up close to the 24 Formula One cars and watched teams work on the machines that will take to the track today for the first practice run of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Oliver Geske, 27, flew in from Germany on Wednesday to see the circuit up close. An F1 fan, he has attended seven Grands Prix in Europe over 12 years and said after the inaugural Abu Dhabi race four years ago he has always wanted to see Yas Marina Circuit.

"The race looked good and I wanted to see it start in daylight and finish at night," said Mr Geske. Aside from the heat, he was impressed.

Ron Powell, a car enthusiast who lives in Abu Dhabi, said it was interesting to see how each team's car front wings differed.

"The pit lane walk was very colourful," he said. "You get to see the different shapes of all the wings but we didn't see Red Bull's front wings. What was interesting, we saw Lotus wheel out their rain tyres. We asked them if they knew something we didn't."

Mr Powell was making a weekend out of the event, joined by his son, Ritchie, and two friends from the UK, Derrick Hoskins, 65, and Dave Barbin, 65. They have made the trip each year since 2009.

"We ended up getting the bus but it goes all the way around the grandstands and there was no one to drop off," Mr Hoskins said. "It does it for operational days but not a day like today when you're stuck for time to see the pit walk."

Donald McKinnon and his wife came for six days from Scotland to celebrate her 40th birthday. Both avid race fans, Mr McKinnon said it made sense to go to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix because the cost of going to the British Grand Prix would be same.

"Going from Scotland, the traffic is a nightmare and living in Scotland it would cost the same to get down. We thought we may just as well fly away for a couple of hundred more."

He has been to European Grand Prix in Valencia, Spain, and said Abu Dhabi was a better operation.

With the F1 Fan Zone and concerts on the Corniche over the weekend, as well as the three post-race concerts at the du Arena, Mr McKinnon said: "The value is amazing."

eharnan@thenational.ae