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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Abu Dhabi GP: F1 fans enjoy practice day 

Most get to the first practice day at Yas Marina Circuit without a hitch

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen drives under the Yas Viceroy hotel during the first practice session ahead of the Abu DhabiGrand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit. Andrej Isakovic / AFP Photo
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen drives under the Yas Viceroy hotel during the first practice session ahead of the Abu DhabiGrand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit. Andrej Isakovic / AFP Photo

Racing fans arrived in the thousands to the Yas Marina Circuit this Friday afternoon to experience the unique atmosphere as drivers practised on the track for this year’s Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“I just arrived yesterday from the UK. I'm here for the race and also to see my friend who lives in Abu Dhabi,” said 41-year-old Robin Humphrys Smith, who had been to the F1 motor race held in Australia.

The facilities here are different in a very good way, he thinks. “It's great. We got here really quick, parked and easily got to our seats,” said Mr Humphrys Smith.

"However, it's very hard to hear anything because of the car noise and it's not that easy to see what's happening on the screens, so I think having better access to what is taking place on the tracks, like getting audio through our phones or iPads, from all the cars and listening to the drivers, know what's happening to their cars, then that will be a great step and the experience will become more exciting.”

His friend Adrian, who has been living in Abu Dhabi for four years and has been to each F1 since, was there with his two children, ages 6 and 2. “Children are admitted free of charge [on Friday], so I thought I'd bring them to experience this,” he said.

“Back in the UK, I recall that one time it took me six hours to reach home after the race, but here, I was home in 15 minutes. It's one of the easiest-to-get-to races I have been to. It's a huge tourist attraction as well, not only for my friend but many others come here for the race,” he said.

A Canadian government employee in the capital finds Abu Dhabi’s F1 far better organized than others in North America. “There are so many volunteers to help and guide you here, way more than I have seen in other races,” said Daniel, 40.

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Other fans had their share of hardship to reach or leave the circuit. Kal Dabjan, 28, from Canada, waited for nearly an hour to find transport from the circuit to Yas Mall then almost two hours to find a taxi from in front of the mall to his place.

“I'm not a die-hard kind of fan, but I love it and I attended the race last year and here I am this year. It's just I would love to see it easier to get in and out of here,” said the Web developer.

He noted that when he was coming to the track, the taxi driver didn't know the location and started complaining about how confusing it is since the roads are not numbered or named. “I then had wonderful time at the race, only to forget all about that fun while trying to get home,” he said.

Angelica Pyne, 30, visiting from the United States, was not happy with getting lost and moving in circles.

“I drove there, followed directions, went to park somewhere. The guard asked me just to make a U-turn for police to check the car in a routine security check, so I went there and when done went to park, only to be told that it will cost me Dh500 [at the Viceroy hotel],” said Angelica, adding that she had to go to Yas Mall then took a cab, got lost, then took a shuttle bus.

“From inside the walls of this place, it's been all just very organised. After all the difficulty, this place is amazing and looks like I'm having lots of fun today,” she said.

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