Location: Baku, Azerbaijan
Long weekends are the perfect opportunity for city breaks – a quick holiday to recharge your batteries and discover a new destination. We are coming up to a four day weekend in the UK, so it made me think about interesting city breaks I have been on, to perhaps inspire you when hunting for your own travel destinations.
Last weekend, it was also the start of the new Grand Prix season, therefore I thought what better time to write an article on how to shake up the traditional city break by going to a Grand Prix.
If your starting point is London, there are so many places that you can include on your list, whether it be Monte Carlo, Russia or Abu Dhabi, all of which can be reached within six hours. If the flight is longer than three hours, I like to take the red eye flight out on Thursday night and wake up at my destination on Friday morning. Closer European destinations are even easier. You can select the best destination for you by having a look at the official 2018 F1 calendar.
A Grand Prix weekend starts with practice sessions on the Friday, followed by qualifiying on the Saturday, with the big race on the Sunday. If you are not entirely into F1, then you may want to miss out on the Friday practice sessions and either fly out on Friday or spend the day sightseeing.
My husband loves F1 and we do try to go to a race every so often. Last year, we decided to combine the race with a location that we have wanted to visit for some time, both to see friends and to visit a part of the world we had never been to before! Hello Baku!
Azerbaijan actually deserves its own blog post, however for now, I have put together a list of reasons why you should consider a Grand Prix weekend for your city break!
1. The Adrenaline
I have been to a couple of races now, and whatever the country there is one common element. The adrenaline and excitement. You may not have guessed it, but the cars make a huge amount of noise when whizzing around the track and this alone is enough to get you buzzing. There is a great sense of national pride and community at each race, with the hosting city proud to put on the best show possible for the thousands of tourists that the race attracts. It really does create such a lovely atmosphere of so many different cultures coming together to enjoy a common sport.
2. The Sport
Even if you are not the biggest F1 fan, I would not rule out this holiday entirely. I confess, before my first race I wasn’t either. I didn’t understand the point of cars driving around in circles. I now see that this was a little naive on my part – there is so much action in each race! The sharp turns, the ear piercing screeches, the weather conditions, the cars, the competition between the drivers, the collisions!
A Grand Prix weekend is divided into three days. The first day is a just a practice day, with one and a half hour practice sessions on Friday morning and afternoon. The qualifying takes place on the Saturday. This is where all twenty cars whizz around the track over three periods, with the slowest five drivers being eliminated over the first two periods. These fill grid positions eleven to twenty. The third qualifying features the ten fastest drivers, who then have twelve minutes to set their best qualifying time, determining their place on the top ten grid for Sunday’s race.
The best is saved for last. The race takes place on Sunday and does not last longer than two hours. This is the highlight of the weekend, where each driver races to finish in the quickest time possible. The end of the race is the climax, where the top three drivers are awarded their trophies on the podium and pop bottles of champagne (or in some countries fizzy fruit juice) in celebration.
3. The Entertainment
Each race is packed with entertainment within the F1 village, but what’s really amazing is that international stars fly in to give free performances on each of the nights. The cost of the performances is included in your F1 ticket, but we strongly recommend that if you want to be at the front, you will need to queue as soon as the racing ends. Some F1 villages also offer VIP passes which allow you to skip the queue. We were lucky enough to win these at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix a few years ago. The acts are always fantastic – so far, we have been lucky enough to see Eminem, Kylie Minogue, Nickelback, Black Eyed Peas, Nicole Scherzinger and Mariah Carey live all through F1!
You can see which acts will be performing at each event – you may want to use this as the deciding factor for which race you plan to go to.
And so all in all, there are so many reasons why you should consider a Grand Prix city break as your next holiday. It’s three packed full days where you get to see a little bit of what the country has to offer, taste the local cuisine, enjoy the sheer thrill of the race and get to watch some of your favourite performers. Above all, enjoy the wonderful sense of community where so many different nationalities and cultures come together to enjoy this incredible international event.