10 Years of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix through Darren Heath’s Lens – Part 1 of 2

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Part one of a two-part photo series.

Darren Heath, world-renowned F1® takes us on a journey through time with photographs from 10 years of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. In this collection, Heath shared his favourite images of drivers on track, behind the scene at the pitstops, and beautiful scenery of the iconic Yas Marina Circuit.

The F1® photographer not only shares beautifully captured moments from 2009 until now but also offers commentary and a retrospective story about each striking shot.

Nico Rosberg, 2015

Photography Courtesy of Darren Heath

The climax of almost every Grand Prix is the celebrations of the winning driver, so I’m always keen to capture the emotion of the moment. Here, Nico Rosberg clenches his fists in a joyous punching of the air in recognition of his 2015 Abu Dhabi race victory. Yas Marina Circuit’s fantastic firework display providing a suitably stunning backdrop.  

Fernando Alonso, 2010

Photography Courtesy of Darren Heath

Everyone who follows Formula 1® is aware of the impressive architectural delight of the Yas Hotel Abu Dhabi. Spanning the twisting and turning a street track-like section of the Circuit, the building provides a visual treat for the photographers present. Here you see Fernando Alonso thundering underneath the hotel during the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton, 2017

Photography Courtesy of Darren Heath

I’ve always enjoyed photographing Formula 1® cars at very slow shutter speeds. It’s a tricky technique to master but when one gets the smooth motion of the camera and lens perfectly matched to the velocity of the car in the frame, the results – especially under Yas Marina Circuit’s floodlights – can be wonderful. This blur of colourful highlights is Lewis Hamilton racing his Mercedes during the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Nico Rosberg, 2016 

Photography Courtesy of Darren Heath

For about five minutes at the very start of the second session of the day, a few of Yas Marina Circuit’s corners are lit with the orange glow from the setting sun. Positioning myself at one of these corners during practice for the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix I hoped to capture a special photo. As Nico Rosberg rounded the turn, highlights glinting off the Silver Arrow’s bodywork, I knew I had a winning shot!

Jenson Button, 2009

Photography Courtesy of Darren Heath

Of course, so much of photographing the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is about the sunset/night time nature of the event but the cars do spend two practice sessions running in daylight conditions. This can make for interesting pictures especially when the cars pass underneath the Yas Hotel Abu Dhabi, just like the one you see here of Jenson Button in his world title-winning Brawn car during the 2009 race weekend.

Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, 2010

Photography Courtesy of Darren Heath

The 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will always be remembered as the race where Fernando Alonso missed the chance to become the Formula 1® drivers’ World Champion for the Scuderia. Poor pit stop strategy by the Italian team handed the race to the young Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel. Here you see the dejected, disconsolate Alonso walking into the FIA garage as the new world champion arrives to claim the prize.

Yas Marina Circuit Sunset, Abu Dhabi, 2014 

Photography Courtesy of Darren Heath

No other race track on the planet can match the architectural splendour of Yas Marina Circuit; the venue’s impressive Grandstands framed as they so often are by a stunning orangey to red to purple to black desert sunset sky. Positioning myself at the bottom of the slope towards the exit of the pit lane the approaching cars appear as classic Formula 1® car shapes

Daniel Ricciardo, 2016

Photography Courtesy of Darren Heath

Depending on the colours being displayed, the twinkling lights of the Yas Hotel Abu Dhabi can work very well with the colourway of different Formula 1® cars. During the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix the blue, red and yellow of the lights complemented the very similar colours adorning Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull car. The picture is particularly difficult to capture as one sees the cars very late meaning any delay in framing the shot and pressing the shutter release means the photo is lost.

Flypast, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, 2017

Photography Courtesy of Darren Heath

Everyone loves a flypast! It’s now become a tradition that with 15 minutes until lights out and the start of the race a stunning air display featuring Etihad’s Airbus 380 escorted by the Fursan Al Emarat aerobatic display team salutes the Grand Prix grid below. A suitably stunning purple-hued sky provided a visually arresting scene for the 2017 show.

Lewis Hamilton, 2015 

Photography Courtesy of Darren Heath

As fans of Formula 1® will know, the reigning world drivers’ champion, Lewis Hamilton, races with the number 44. In 2015 the UAE proudly celebrated the country’s 44th National Day so Lewis Hamilton sported a special helmet displaying both his official number and the host nation’s special anniversary.



  • MOJEH MEN Staff Writer
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