Since the inception of the first drivers’ championship series in 1950, Formula One has been an entertaining indulgence of the social elite and hardcore racing aficionados alike. While some of us are happy to join the hordes of true blue F1 fans who flock to the Abu Dhabi race weekend en masse to imbibe the mirth, atmosphere and pure skill of the drivers, others, who unfortunately believe it is of utmost importance to attend the opening of every shiny envelope they can get their name on a list for, are more interested in getting into yachts and private parties to be seen and photographed sitting as close as they possibly can to the perceived glitterati.
If indeed the latter is your true deep-seated reason for heading to the 2013 Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, then there are some things you need to know in advance of magically appearing, sans a single bead of sweat, in the paddock. Even the most practised dilettante should tread carefully when trying to blend into the upper echelons of Formula One society — merely feigning a passing interest in the sport simply won’t work here.
Points of study
Topping the need-to-know list is who is on pole position for the race, and if it isn’t one of the championship contenders, where this challenger sits on the grid. This phenomenon, though rarely occurrent, will be the hot pre-race topic of every connoisseur. While it may not be necessary to know all eleven teams and twenty-two drivers, knowing a little about Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and other top six contenders will definitely help you slip with ease into many a conversation. The big topic for those in the know is more than likely be the 2014 rule and regulation changes. Drop a sentence about the engine specification reduction from 2.4l V8 to 1.6l V6 turbo being a drastic shift in how F1 has previously operated and question whether the new focus on improving safety while reducing cost allows some of the lower ranking teams to take their shot at challenging the front runners.
Now that you have gotten some of the major players delightedly regaling you with statistics and performance theories, it is time to turn that impish mind of yours towards landing the proverbial great white whale — where to find the F1 elite post-race, and how to slip undiscovered into their inner sanctum. Scoring an invitation to a yacht berth with a prime view of the track would be the absolute coup d’etat. Apart from seats in the sponsors’ paddock, these are the most sought-after private viewing parties, where only rocking the highest Louboutins and shortest skirts gives one a hope of gaining access, short of a complete miracle.
F1 weekends worldwide also play host to a number of exclusive parties and private events.
While most music lovers will regale the Yas on-site concerts happening through the weekend, where the A-list wannabes really need to be seen is beyond the velvet ropes of the now-infamous Amber lounge, or inside this year’s glamorous partnering of the Podium Lounge and Bouji private members’ club. An F1 weekend staple in many other countries, the Podium Lounge, in Abu Dhabi for the first time this year, is sure to host more than a few of the ultra jet-set crowd.
If the thought of having to put in some real effort before heading down to the track today is causing you would-be interlopers veritable heart palpitations, then load up YouTube for some easily earned reconnaissance.
Rush is the biographical story of the epic battle for the 1976 Formula One drivers’ championship between world-class rivals Niki Lauda and James Hunt. If this high-octane tale fails to ignite any true passion for the sport, it will at the very least give you a fabulous cheat sheet of racing terms, as well as a solid grounding in the championship’s storied history.