By David Love
Most if not all of us will have watched a modern Formula One Grand Prix at one time or another and listened to the commentators talking about the tremendous acceleration and G forces generated by the cars. Sitting there watching the proceedings, let’s be honest it would be inaccurate to call it a race, you can’t really appreciate the speeds and forces. Let’s face it there’s no way that you’d be let loose in an F1 car so there’s no way you’ll ever get to experience 4G plus. Yet on Boxing Day I got that thrill in a Ferrari F 1 car, in a fashion.
A few months ago my wife, Susan, decided she wanted to avoid the hassle of Christmas and announced that we shouldn’t give each other presents this year but go away instead. Of course she told me this after I’d already got her present from the Pound Shop. It had to be somewhere warm, dry and sunny where they didn’t celebrate Christmas so that ruled out Silloth. After she consulted with Bev, our daughter, it was decreed, sorry decided, that the three of us were heading to Dubai. So early on the 23rd in minus 11 temperatures we were heading through frozen snowy Cumbria to join 596 other travellers on board one of the world’s largest passenger jets, an Emirates Airbus A380. If we were lucky we would get our luggage on the same day we arrived.
Sitting outside in the sunshine having breakfast the next morning, with no sign of snow, reading the hotel news sheet I noticed that there was a trip to Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi on Boxing Day. So I was going to get a Christmas present after all.
We arrived there at noon, which was opening time, so that we’d avoid the worst of the queues, wrong, by 12:45 I’d made it to the ticket counter while Susan and Bev had enjoyed a coffee, been to the loo, wandered round the shop and even considered a second coffee. At last we were inside Ferrari World proper which I thought would be crowded but that was before I realised the building was the size of a small town. There were numerous Ferrari road and race cars on display plus various behind the scenes attractions. After checking out quite a few of them Bev led us to Formula Rossa, the worlds fastest roller coaster! With not having the strongest of stomachs I usually avoid them but as we’d come this far I felt I couldn’t wimp out. As we approached the tail of the queue there was sign saying ‘1 Hour Wait From Here’. Escape! We don’t want to waste that much time queuing’ said I, ‘We don’t have to’ said Bev ‘We’ve got fast track passes’. Damn! So we walked down the Fast Track Lane until we were level with the loading/unloading area and there in front of us was a very long wheelbase Ferrari F1 car with 8 rows of 2 high back seats. As people were boarding the staff were taking all loose objects off them including spectacles. Some people were refusing to get on. Arabs in traditional dress were given zip fronted head to toe hooded parkas. It couldn’t go that fast that it blew you’re clothes off, could it? Why’s everything spinning? Quick give me the brown paper bag, a few deep breaths into it and my world stopped spinning. Oh hell, they’re calling us forward as the 16 seat Ferrari heads out the building, would I ever see those poor souls again? They lined us up for boarding, oh s**t I’m in the second row, I don’t want to see that much. I was next to a young American so I apologised to him in case I was sick on him. He had a great idea, he would lean to the left and I would lean right and the people behind could make their own arrangements. Before I knew it we were stepping on board, being told to sit well back in our seats and fasten the seat belt as the staff pushed the restraining bar tight against me. No getting out now!
We moved forward out of the building, I took a deep breath and then we stopped. ‘Great, I psych myself up for this and now it’s broken dooooowwwwwnnnnn!’. Suddenly the horizon is rushing towards me and I’m pressed into the seat by an invisible hand. The acceleration is so fast my ears touch. We shoot up the first incline at unabated speed, I feel as if I’m being compressed and have shrunk 6 inches. As we clear the top and start to descend I am lifted out of my seat, which is no easy task. We’re then blasted through a series of angled tight radius curves and climbs, still being forced back into the seat until we the reach the final straight when, at last, I can breathe again. As we stop the American says ‘it was that fast I couldn’t open my mouth to swear’. It was an exhilarating ride and a great insight into the G-Forces F1 drivers experience but they have it easier, they sit low down and wear a helmet. Check out the You Tube video below, you’ll see that Alonso isn’t so impressive without his helmet. It was a great ride! Would I do it again? You bet! When? Manãna!
Formula Rossa facts :- Top speed 150 mph reached in 4.9 seconds with a G-Force of 4.8. The track is 1.2 miles long and 169 feet at its highest point.