x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Golden tickets offer F1 fans breakfast with champions

Ten winners of a Formula One competition will have the chance to breakfast with one of the series' championship drivers at this year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November.

The Formula One driver Jenson Button signs autographs for fans on the pit lane walk last October.
The Formula One driver Jenson Button signs autographs for fans on the pit lane walk last October.

ABU DHABI // Will it be eggs and toast with Jenson Button, meats and cheese with Nico Rosberg, steamed rice and fish with Kamui Kobayashi? Ten winners of a Formula One competition concluding tomorrow will have the chance to breakfast with one of the series' championship drivers at this year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November.

Richard Cregan, the chief executive of Yas Marina Circuit, revealed this week that breakfast with an F1 driver at the Yas Hotel would be part of the prize package for the winners of five pairs of "Golden Tickets" being drawn hours after tickets to the event go on sale exclusively in the UAE. "We are offering something that money cannot buy," Mr Cregan said of the prize, which includes pit access during track sessions and a three-night stay at the Yas Hotel.

The chance of breakfast with a driver adds spice to the release of tickets to the circuit's second grand prix, which takes place on November 14. Tickets go on sale in the UAE from 4pm tomorrow at stands at Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi and the Dubai Mall and over the phone at 800 YAS (927). UAE residents will have a few hours to have their choice of seats before tickets go on sale to the rest of the world at 10am on Monday.

With every three-day grandstand seat selling at a 20 per cent discounted price of Dh1,600 (US$435) for an unspecified "early bird" period and Dh2,000 at full price, race fans will be able choose their seat without having to take into consideration a panoply of ticket prices. The vast majority of seats fall into this single price range. The most expensive tickets (Dh4,250) are in air-conditioned suites and offer beverages and appetisers. A cap of 10 tickets per person will be in place.

Last year, fans paid Dh2,500 for three days in the main grandstand; the cheapest three-day ticket, for the support pit stand, cost Dh1,600. Mr Cregan said organisers decided it was easier for fans to focus on where they sit rather than price. At some other circuits where Formula One races this year, prices can vary significantly from one stand to the next. For instance, tickets for the Turkish Grand Prix later this month are split into categories ranging from Dh240 to Dh1,600. At the Japanese Grand Prix in October, three-day passes will range from Dh688 to Dh3,050.

Karim al Azhari, 37, winner of this season's UAE GT Championship, said he will be targeting seats in the west grandstand because "you have an overtaking point braking into turn 8 on the longer straight. That is where the action is." Mr Cregan said he expects this year's grand prix to feature more entertainment than last with the Oasis fanzone area being expanded. Last year's event was supported by a series of concerts and events on the Corniche. Mr Cregan would not confirm the form of entertainment Flash, the Government's events company, would arrange this year, but said, "I think what they have coming up is going to be quite sensational."

Ferrari World will also have opened by late October. Mr Cregan believes tickets will sell out quicker than they did a year ago, when the last of nearly 60,000 tickets were sold one week before the race. To enter in the Golden Ticket competition, fans must answer six F1-related questions, which have been published one per day over six days on the circuit's official fan page www.facebook.com/yasmarinacircuit. The answers can be found at the fan page or through YouTube, the circuit said, but the answer to the final question tomorrow can be found only by going to the ticket stands at the two malls from 10am. Answers must be submitted on an entry form there, with the winners being drawn at 9pm.

mchung@thenational.ae