Formula 1 racing experience in Abu Dhabi

23

As part of our whirlwind trip to the UAE and beyond, Nick booked us into the Formula YAS 3000 driving experience in Abu Dhabi.  I’m not personally into racing, either as a viewer or a participant, so I wasn’t excited about this one.  I was actually a bit nervous.  My most recent experience with racecar driving was playing Mario Kart several years ago where I spent most of my time spinning out, flipping over, and crashing.  Would the same happen in real life?  Yikes!

Nick speeds along at a blistering-ish 127 KM/H

Freak-out briefing

At the racetrack, they started us with an educational briefing.  This ratcheted my nervousness up a few notches.  In addition to telling us how to start the car and shift gears, they told us what to do if we spun out; and showed us the button to press to shut off the car in an emergency, and the knob to turn to escape our harness, and the lever to pull in case of a fire.  Yikes!

Donning our racing suits

Nick and Greg (that’s me waving) don our racing suits

After the freak-out briefing, we changed into our padded full-body racing suits.  Now, keep in mind that we did this on September 9th.  That’s still summer in Abu Dhabi.  Even though it was about 10pm, it must have been about 100 degrees outside (Fahrenheit, but it felt like 100 degrees Celsius).  Now imagine stepping out into that heat wearing a padded full-body suit and gloves.  Then add a giant bobble-head helmet on top.  Yep, it was comfy.

Racing experience

After climbing into the race car, the instructor came to harness me in… very tightly.  That was good.  I knew I’d stay put in the seat if the car decided to spin or flip over.  She then reminded me of a few details from the briefing and told me to start the car.  I turned it on without an issue, but moving from zero to something more than zero was a bit tricky and I stalled out a couple of times before getting the hang of it.

The car has a clutch that is used only when starting in first gear.  After that, upshifting and downshifting is as easy as clicking the paddle shifters on each side of the steering wheel.  With each downshift, the car offers up a mighty bone-rattling thump (for lack of a better description).

We each had our own instructor-car to follow.  The driver of that car would somehow monitor what was happening behind them and adjust speed accordingly.  That was great because I never felt unsure about what I was doing once on the track.  The first time around the track was intentionally slow to get us used to driving the car at all.  After that, we were free to unleash the beast.

Once I felt relatively comfortable driving, I took off.  Or so I thought.  There were three of us driving the track at once, and one guy lapped me several times.  Nick lapped me once.  Still, I must have been going at least 50 or 60 miles per hour ;).

It took me a while to get used to going relatively fast around turns.  I really had no interest in spinning out, so the main issue was getting comfortable enough to keep the speed up above a crawl as I entered turns.  With each lap, I think I took the turns faster until I finally got to where my mom might not beat me in a formula 1 race.  Nick apparently also increased his speed around turns as he went along because he spun out on the second to last lap.  Fortunately, he was unhurt and was able to safely finish the drive.

Splash down

At the end of the drive we pulled off our helmets and driving suits.  Our clothes underneath were not just sweaty… they were literally dripping wet (and I’m using the literal meaning of “literally” here).  I was glad that they gave us driving shoes to wear because I imagine that our own shoes would otherwise have had puddles of sweat in them and we would have had to slosh our way back to the hotel.  Ick.

Great fun

Despite the heat, and despite my nervousness going in, I had a great time!  Once I was on the track with wind in my hair helmet, and with the realization that the instructor in the car in front somehow had my back, it was fun.  I highly recommend it!  But maybe consider visiting in the winter.  I’m just saying…

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23 Comments
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Tim

I’ll be there in 3 weeks and would LOVE to do this, hurry up on the deets 🙂

Cavedweller

Tip ur Driver or coach BEFORE u go .I got 2 laps for free and Lot’s of advise ..Some tracks have a Drive around before in a Porsche to show u the track . I always wanted to get back and cheaper then the car I brought to have FUN !!!

Last edited 2 months ago by Cavedweller
Paul

Ah, another vicarious travel experience for those of us stuck at home. Have fun guys! Wait, you’re already having way too much fun.

DaninMCI

Sounds awesome. I love F1. I don’t get the negative comments but the post sounds interesting since it’s part of this trip series. Now if I could book it with points at a reasonable rate….

AlexL

Enjoy the update. Nick did a good job at planning the trip. Maybe Greg can plan one for Nick next?

DSK

I am absolutely enjoying this series. Thanks for the excellent write-up. It’s giving me all kinds of ideas, which personally I appreciate..

As far as the cost, during the height of my “mid-life crisis”, I flew the Zero-G Experience. Outrageously and insanely expensive. However, how often in life can you fly through the air like Superman, climb on the ceiling like Spiderman, and experience true weightlessness without blasting off into space (I scuba dive and zero gravity feels NOTHING like scuba diving). Cost is relative. If driving a Formula One-like car once in your lifetime for less than the cost of a round-trip economy ticket to Europe brings you joy, then it sounds perfect to me.

Last edited 2 months ago by DSK
Raghu N

Sound like fun. You have sold me on Dubai. Hot air balloons, Formula1, Skiing etc
Next non pandemic Christmas, I am going to Dubai
Keep it flowing
Raghu

Steve S

This is awesome. Definitely want to know more. What an experience that must have been

VX_Flier

And to clarify, were these Formula 3/3000 cars, and not F1 cars?

Would cost a LOT more than $500 to drive a 20-yr old F1 car. Any pictures?

Last edited 2 months ago by VX_Flier
Nick Reyes

Yes these are Formula 3000 cars on the F1 Yas Marina Circuit track. About as close as most of us will ever get to the experience of driving a Formula 1 car, but correct that it isn’t a Formula 1 car.

Last edited 2 months ago by Nick Reyes
Stew Podaso

Perhaps some details on cost etc instead of rambling pages of how awesome you are and how the rest of us suck. I miss the days you could get educated but now it’s all about you, you and you.

whocares

while I feel your comment is overly harsh, there is some truth to it. FM seems to promoting their image more & more. One to many selfies. I made a comment about that long ago.

whocares

Looks like fun. But for only 10-20 minutes of drive time – $500 USD or so…yikes.

Since you are in MI – auto state, prob a good thrill. Nice to know it exists.

Nick Reyes

I’ll eventually write a post about how I stacked it to get good value for points. It still wasn’t cheap, but not nearly $500.

whocares

I’ll look forward to that!

An interesting future post might be: the most expensive experience you’ve paid for (While traveling far away, as opposed to local) – and was it worth it. And inviting user comments. Experience, as opposed to a show/simple concert (Unless it was a backstage VIP thing).

From my recollection, mine was $600 (or something like that) for an all day snowmobile adventure in Svalbard. ~10+ hours? It was awesome. Was able to write some of it off, so effective cost was lower, but it was def worth it.

Same thing is pricing at <$500 due to improved exchange rate now.

As I reflect on time vs cost, it was a great deal. And piloting your own snowmobile is an active activity, not passive.

if I was a huge motor sports fan (but I’m not), I’m sure I could justify $500 or whatever, on 10-20 minutes around a real track. I did visit the Bahrain race track many moons ago.

Stew Podaso

It’s pages of bragging with no goal to teach or educate as usual.

Nick Reyes

No goal to teach or educate? Did you miss my post this week about how we applied the Delta GUCs for this trip?

https://frequentmiler.com/how-we-used-our-delta-global-upgrade-certificates-to-fly-business-class-on-air-france/

Or Greg’s about his experience applying Ritz club lounge upgrades?

https://frequentmiler.com/my-experience-applying-a-ritz-club-upgrade/

Or mine about how I booked the Prince Suite at the Grand Hyatt Dubai?

https://frequentmiler.com/prince-suite-at-the-grand-hyatt-dubai-amazing-use-of-hyatt-points/

The entire goal of this trip was to have some fun and learn some things that readers may find useful. Perhaps you would find value in subscribing to our email list to make sure you don’t miss any of those posts going forward.

Loving It

Nick Im really loving this series and cant wait to see your write up on how you booked the driving experience.

Drew

I’m just wondering why you think you needed a colon in your first sentence?

Cavedweller

WELL WORTH IT.. Go to Vegas, I did it on the NASCAR track .FREE to watch and to bring people like 8 years ago.

Abey

Sounds incredibly fun ! Boys and their toys

Drew

Perhaps inserting the cost into your post would be helpful…

Nick Reyes

I’ll definitely be writing a post about how I booked everything. Greg wasn’t in the loop on that part – this post is just his review of the experience itself.