Race weekend: Your guide to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

2018 Singapore Grand Prix, Sunday- Wolfgang Wilhelm

Back for a landmark 10th year, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is celebrating a decade of high-octane sporting and equally wild post race cavorting.

Before we get stuck into what off track entertainment is in store for this year, let’s reflect on 10 memorable moments from a decade of racing in the capital.

10. The first race   

While the 2009 race itself wasn’t dramatic, the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was a massive event for the UAE and gave millions of viewers around the world a glimpse of our desert capital. Setting the tone for the years to come, thousands flocked to the UAE for a roaring spectacular, executed with the nation’s trademark glittering flair.

9. The concerts

The list of Yasalam after-race concert performers over the years reads like an epic festival line up. You might say… they’ve nailed the formula. Each year there’s a palpable hum of excitement in the lead up to the official announcement of who’ll be hitting the stage after the on-track action came to a close. We’re talking Beyoncé, Prince, Mumford and Sons and Paul McCartney, Eminem, Jay-Z, The Who, Calvin Harris and Rihanna. That’s not your iPhone on shuffle. That’s headliner goals.

8. Saving best for last

In 2010, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix became the last race of the Formula 1 season. Vettel won the race comfortably for the second year in a row and subsequently became the youngest driver to become World Drivers’ Champion at 23 years. Vettel would go on to secure four Drivers’ Championships in a row until losing out to Lewis Hamilton in 2014.

7. Rise of the underdog

Despite having never won a race going into the 2017 Formula 1 season, Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) came from relative obscurity to win three races in the campaign. Bottas first celebrated wins in the Russian Grand Prix and Austrian Grand Prix, before writing his name into history in Abu Dhabi, with his third victory of the season.

6. Lucky escape

Abu Dhabi was the scene for one of the scariest incidents of the 2012 season. Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg flew over the back of Narain Karthikeyan after the steering in his car began to fail, catching Rosberg by surprise and sending him hurling towards the barriers. Thankfully neither driver was seriously injured and the incident went down as one of the most peculiar to occur at the Yas Marina Circuit.

2017 Mexican Grand Prix, Saturday – Wolfgang Wilhelm

5. Hamilton loses his head

After three long months without a victory during the 2011 season, Hamilton, then driving for McLaren, went on to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and celebrated with an uncharacteristically exuberant celebration. Leaping from the cockpit, the Brit sprinted over to his team, jumping fences to embrace his crew. Thing is, he’s not usually ‘that guy.’

4. Yas can be an unforgiving master

German driver Sebastian Vettel dominated the 2011 season, with 11 wins and four second-place finishes across the Formula 1 calendar. Having qualified in pole position in Abu Dhabi, Vettel suffered a puncture at the first corner at Yas Marina Circuit during the championship, and flew off the track into the barrier, forcing him to retire.

3. Winner takes it all

Sometimes the Drivers’ Championship is all tied up before the engines rev in Abu Dhabi but in 2010 it was all down to the last race. Four drivers were in the running: Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber. Vettel won and secured the championship, despite having not led the standings for the entire season.

2. Raikkonen returns

After a two-year break from the sport, Kimi Raikkonen returned to Formula 1 with a bang in 2012. The Finn concluded his come back season with a win at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and Finn-ished third overall in the World Drivers’ Championships behind Alonso and winner Vettel. Raikkonen also had viewers in stitches with his hilarious pit messages, including telling the Lotus Team, “Yes, yes, yes. Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing.” Point proved.’

1. Best frenemies 

The 2016 season witnessed some cutthroat action between Mercedes teammates and fierce rivals Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. It all came down to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix where, with a faultless performance, Rosberg took the World Championship on the final day at Yas Marina Circuit. What happened next, though, shocked the world. The German decided to retire at the top of his game, and turn his focus to his family – meaning his last ever competitive drive was in the capital.

The Yasalam post race entertainment for 2018

Between them, this year’s artists boast a fairly impressive 13 Billboard awards, seven Grammys, two Guinness World Records, one Oscar and one Golden Globe.

So, ladies and gentlemen, start your engines and prepare for four days of gigs from some of the world’s biggest superstars.

Post Malone

Post Malone

Kicking off the Formula 1 weekend in style, US rapper Post Malone made his Middle East début on Thursday 22nd November to get the music side of things off to a roaring start.

Bringing his trademark blend of rap, hip-hop and RnB, the artist will be revving up audiences for an action-packed weekend ahead with some of his best-loved hits, including ‘Rockstar’, ‘Psycho’ and ‘Better Now’.

By the time his second album dropped earlier this year, he broke US streaming records with 48 million streams of the record within the first day of its launch, as well as stripping The Beatles of their record for the most top 20 Billboard hits.


The Weeknd

The Weeknd Press Shot

On Friday, 23rd November, Grammy Award-winning Canadian singer The Weeknd brought the party with a slew of his most popular hits.

Known for his smash track ‘Can’t Feel My Face’, the singer – whose real name is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye – caught rapper Drake’s eye all the way back in 2010.

With a string of number one hits since then, including ‘Starboy’, ‘The Hills’ and ‘Call Out My Name’, The Weeknd means business. Formula 1 fans who made it in to the gig were treated to an energetic show full of melodic bangers and soulful smashes.


Sam Smith

Sam Smith announced as Saturday artist for 2018 ADGP

Bringing some soulful vocals into the mix, British megastar Sam Smith will take the du Arena stage on Saturday 24th November for a night of heartfelt tunes in his first ever Abu Dhabi gig.

With multiple awards under his belt including an Oscar and a Golden Globe, Smith will be performing some of his most-loved hits in his regional debut, including ‘Stay With Me’, ‘I’m Not the Only One’ and ‘Writing’s on the Wall.’

Citing Adele and Amy Winehouse as his musical influences, Sam Smith will be treated Abu Dhabi audiences to a night of powerful music that is full of emotive lyrics and high on the #relatable scale.


Guns N’ Roses


Whether you’re young or old, you know them, you love them and you probably sing along to ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’ in the shower. As one of the biggest rock and roll bands ever, Guns N’ Roses certainly need no introduction.

Axl Rose, Slash and Duff will be here in the capital on Sunday 25th November to close out this year’s Grand Prix with some of their most enduring hits, so get ready for a singathon –and perhaps a smattering of air guitar – with songs including ‘Welcome to the Jungle, ‘Paradise City’ and ‘November Rain’.

Proving that the band’s music is timeless, Guns N’ Roses has sold over 100 million records worldwide, putting them among the best-selling artists of all time.

Our advice? Let your hair down and get ready to scream the lyrics loud and proud.


After-race concerts are exclusive to Grand Prix ticketholders. To find out more about this year’s schedule, visit: yasalam.ae

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