As summer draws to an end, and no more sun-downers overlooking the sea, I begin to feel anxious. Will I make it through the winter? Will my wife divorce me spending a weekend watching Formula One testing all weekend in February? How much will my waistline increase? When will I next be able to blast up a mountain pass in the sun? But 6 hours on a plane and you’re in Dubai, or Abu Dhabi. And if you you think the Brits are car nuts, you should head to the sand-pit for a week to see what real car nuts are like. A couple of romantic drinks on a rooftop bar can quickly result in “The Grumpy Face” when there’s a burn-out competition occurring in the car park at the entrance to the hotel. And who says I’m not romantic?
We land in Abu Dhabi early on the Saturday morning and head for the Ritz Carlton. Sounds swanky, and it is, but value for money over here is not what it is back home. The quality of the hotel, the standard of the service, and the opulent interiors (not to mention the view of the Grand Mosque) outrank anything you’d get for that price in Europe. It’s also a stones throw from Yas Marina. Unlike other Grand Prix Tours, that means that you can basically get sloshed at the Formula One and get a cab back to the hotel. Except for the fact that this is a dry country, so you actually need to get back to the hotel to get sloshed.
Like any Grand Prix road trip, the Formula 1 is more of a bit-part player than the main event, so we headed into the desert for a few days R&R. This time to the Anantara al Qasr resort just north of the Saudi border. The route is as you’d expect, sandy. But one thing that strikes you is the stonking great big Land Rover Defender in x8 scale when you’re about 100 miles away.