Television and sporting icons have arrived at the Yas Marina Circuit in time for the big race, Saeed Saeed reports
Celebrities savour the Abu Dhabi F1
A slew of celebrities have arrived at the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix ahead of Sunday’s final race of the season.
Big names encompassing the entertainment and sports worlds such as US television lifestyle guru and celebrity chef Martha Stewart, Russian tennis champion Maria Sharapova and Grammy-nominated folk group Mumford & Sons arrived at the Yas Marina Circuit on Saturday to be met by a delegation from the Grand Prix before undertaking a tour of the premises.
The first celebrity spotted during the weekend was Game of Thrones actor Liam Cunningham. A renowned petrol head, the British actor cut a low-key figure in a blue fedora and brown shirt as he toured the racing garages of a number of F1 teams.
The first key figure to arrive was Stewart. Arriving just after 4pm, the 76-year-old television host and best-selling author was in a breezy all-white ensemble as she was met on the red carpet entryway by Yas Marina Circuit chief executive Tareq Al Ameri.
“I am very happy to be here,” she says. “I don’t know too much about the Formula One, but I am looking forward to it and the weather here is absolutely gorgeous.”
Stewart left the circuit after 90 minutes and briefly crossed path with Mumford & Sons; the four-piece arrived at the circuit fresh from completing their sound check at du Arena where they were to perform the penultimate Grand Prix after-race concert.
“We decided we wanted to catch some of the qualifiers,” keyboardist Ben Lovett said.
“It is perfect weather; I don’t think there is ever a bad day here.”
Another personality enjoying the cool breeze was Germany’s Nico Rosberg. The former Mercedes F1 driver, who announced his retirement immediately after winning the Abu Dhabi race last year, was quickly escorted to one of the exclusive hospitality lounges in the Paddock Club.
Sharapova made a more low-key entry with a friend while West Ham footballer Jose Fonte was also spotted at the Paddock Club with Force India Mexican driver Sergio Perez.
A range of music celebrities are expected today to watch the race.
US pop star and car enthusiast Pink should be attending before her race-day performance at the du Arena. She is set be joined by a range of hip-hop stars who are performing separate shows on Yas Island. They include J Cole, who headlined du Arena on Friday, and fellow rappers Rick Ross and French Montana.
UK R 'n' B singer Craig David is also slated to attend in addition to British television personality and singer Alesha Dixon.
Also making a sensation at the Paddock Club yesterday was a group of Emirati students who recently took part in the F1 in Schools World Finals in Malaysia. The four students – ages 12 to 14 years old – from Abu Dhabi’s Umm Al Arab School returned from Kuala Lumpur, where they presented their miniature F1 car concept, dubbed Desert Force, complete with technical details and marketing plan. The team was made up of Sheikha Al Ali (leader), Meera Hassan (engineer), Mahla Mohammed (resources manager), and Dana Hamad (design engineer)
“This was a first time we joined this competition and we came 32nd, which was better than 20 others. As one of the youngest team, we got an achievement award and that was a payback for all the hard work that we did in staying after school and missing on vacations to work hard on this project,” Sheikha said.
“The experience was great because when we came back we met Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed at the Sea Palace.”
Not all the action is restricted to the Paddock Club, however.
Today the Abu Dhabi F1 will launch its first ever Fan Forum at the F1 Fanzone site at the Yas Marina Circuit. General ticket holders will have a chance to pose questions to all drivers taking part in the Abu Dhabi race in two separate sessions running from 12.20pm to 1pm and 1.30 pm to 2pm.
The Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix race takes place today at the Yas Marina Circuit on Yas Island at 5pm. For details go to www.yasmarinacircuit.com