Saturday, December 03, 2016

Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix marshal photos and report

These photos were taken by Tarlan. As background, he is an Azeri F1 fan who had the chance to marshal at Bahrain, Baku, and Abu Dhabi this season.

Here is his report (paraphrased):

When we first met a few years ago while surfing the web, none of us thought it was possible to have an F1 race in my home country. When the news first came out, it was nothing more than a joke, like: "Are you going, pal? Yes, sure I will." But after my contract (working in oil/gas services) in Kazakhstan finished and I returned to Baku, suddenly I had free time and joined the marshals volunteer project.

The Baku team was mentored by the Bahrain team. The local operations team appreciated my deep knowledge in first aid, fire fighting, and project/materials management from my past oil and gas experience and I became a part of the Baku marshals steering committee.

My first ever F1 experience was in Bahrain this April. It was just amazing to be a part of this event, with the smell of burning tires and petrol. Touching the legends-- I was over the moon.

After our team came back from Bahrain, we started regular training as motorsports culture is not common in our country. It was quite tough at times. But we had a Grand Prix to host and you saw it on TV-- the picture was perfect and the Grand Prix was awesome. A lot of fun and adrenaline. As sector marshal I slept two or three hours the whole Grand Prix weekend and did my best to help the operations team to deliver the event. I hope I did well. I had no time to take pictures or enjoy myself with pit walks, concerts, and parties as I did in Bahrain, but I was still happy.

Because Baku was a temporary street circuit, it was hard for our marshals to practice so we sent the team to tracks around the world to gain experience. Baku marshals participated in Austin, Sochi, Interlagos, Bahrain, and Abu Dhabi.

And finally, here I am, in the UAE, Abu Dhabi. The world championship was decided in front of my eyes. I was supporting Nico for a long time, as he deserves this title more than any other drivers this year. As in Bahrain and Baku, all the marshals traveled together to one hotel and were bused to the track. There were long days, with practice, qualifying, and support races (GP2 and GP3). Track management provided food, drinks, and ice cream. Medical teams were on standby the entire time. We took breaks and joined the crowds in the entertainment zone (if your sector was not too far away). Or, you could just lie on the grass, as the weather was quite good.

My role was chief intervention at pit exit 2, and to lead a team of flag marshals, observers, and intervention marshals. In fact, it was a boring place in terms of accidents but it's a nice place to view the cars, as they pass slowly nearby. In total, there were four marshal posts at the pit exit. The first one you see on TV, as they are sitting underground and can't see anything on the track. Second is my post. Then two more up a hill where the pit exit joins the track. They put a marshal in the tunnel because there was an accident in a support race where the car's steering broke and it blocked the exit for a long time. Fortunately nothing like this happened during the race and the race went smoothly except the last few laps when my adrenaline was rushing but I'm sure you felt the same in front of the TV.

As I was close to the pit lane and paddocks this time, I had a chance to watch the podium ceremony live. I also walked around the paddocks and met a lot of celebrities. This Grand Prix was a glamorous end to the season. The champion was decided here, and the weather was warm and nice for this time of year.


halifaxf1fan said...

Great pictures! Why are the police waiting at the end?

Maxichamp said...

@halifaxf1fan: No particular reason. I just thought those cop cars were cool.

halifaxf1fan said...

And indeed they are!