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Page last updated at 14:50 GMT, Friday, 30 October 2009

Abu Dhabi GP practice as it happened



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By Caroline Cheese

1440: Righto, food is calling. I'll return tomorrow for final practice at 1000 GMT and qualifying at 1300 GMT. If you missed anything today, keep checking back on for a smorgasbord of reruns, highlights, reports and results.

1431: Good work from Heikki Kovalainen, taking top spot with a 1:41.307. The Finn seems certain to leave McLaren at the end of the season, so he could do with reminding a few people of his qualities. Lewis Hamilton makes it a McLaren one-two with Jenson Button third. Then: Sebastian Vettel, Kamui Kobayashi, Sebastien Buemi, Mark Webber and Rubens Barrichello.

1429: With less than a minute to go, Heikki Kovalainen ruins the headlines by knocking Lewis Hamilton off top spot.

Text in your views on 81111
From Eve via text on 81111: "Re 1414: To be fair, Caroline, Kimi's feats in this year's car have been nigh on incredible. Exception not the rule! Not to mention the seven-month jump start in learning its evil nuances!"
That is an entirely fair point to be fair

1427: Only a couple of minutes and we're back to a British one-two as Jenson Button tucks in behind Lewis Hamilton.

Sir Jackie Stewart on whether Jenson Button is a deserving champion: "Button collected more points than anyone else. He won more grands prix. He won six, which is as many as I did when I won the world championship. He did it in style in Brazil - but it would have been even better if he had finished on the podium."

1424: Five minutes remaining and Jenson Button has moved up to fifth, with Rubens Barrichello back in eighth.

From graemefowler on Twitter: "Re anon: would love to try a lap in this year's Ferrari. I'd be rubbish in comparison to the other drivers, too."

1414: To be fair, anon, Kimi Raikkonen hasn't had much trouble putting in competitive laps in a Ferrari recently. Just seems like Fisi-Ferrari isn't exactly a match made in heaven. Kamui Kobayashi has just popped up in third, pushing Heikki Kovalainen down to fourth. Jenson Button ninth at the moment.

Text in your views on 81111
From anon via text on 81111: "Re 1357: Perhaps Caroline or Graeme want to put in a competitive lap in this year's Ferrari before judging Fisi?! No, thought not."

1411: Seb Vettel has split the two McLarens at the top. 17 minutes remaining.

BMW's Robert Kubica: "The pit exit is quite tricky. I don't understand why it's so far away. It's still very dangerous. You can't see if anyone is coming."

BBC Sport's Lee McKenzie tweeting from Adu Dhabi: "Abu Dhabi has come into its own. Surrounded by cars, noise, boats, amazing buildings, lights. Like another world!"

From graemefowler on Twitter: "Fisi with a nosebleed? He'll be gasping for air up there, but no matter - normal service will resume tomorrow."

1357: Still a McLaren one-two. Giancarlo Fisichella must be suffering a nosebleed up in 12th. Sorry. Cruel.

1348: It is now getting properly dark out in Abu Dhabi where the two McLarens are one and two. Finally, some pace from Ferrari as Kimi Raikkonen goes sixth. The circuit floodlights, which will be on from the start of Sunday's race, are said to be as bright as sunlight but do not create shadows on the track.

BBC Sport pit-lane reporter Holly Samos: "Kubica is walking back to the pits now after his engine went. It was the oldest engine BMW have used this season. They had about 2,200kms on it and that's why it went at turn seven."

From bigjohn26189 on Twitter: "WOW! What a circuit! Cannot wait for the finale on Sunday. Fingers crossed for a British GP next year."

1339: What's this? Big plume of smoke from Robert Kubica's BMW... looks like an engine gone.

1336: Lewis Hamilton takes us into the 1:41s for the first time today. Meanwhile, Romain Grosjean has a moment going into turn 17. This is almost certainly the Frenchman's last weekend as an F1 driver for the time-being. Robert Kubica and Timo Glock look like being Renault's line-up next season. Grosjean has been quite hopeless since replacing Nelson Piquet Jr.

1333: Softer tyres coming into play now and Jenson Button pops up in second behind that man Sebastien Buemi. Still no sign of the Ferraris getting into gear: Raikkonen 17th, Fisi 19th.

1330: Apparently, the reason the run-off areas at Yas Marina are blue is to reflect the colour of the sea. To be more accurate: it's about the colour the sea might be after some sort of radioactive incident. Still Buemi in P1, then Hamilton and Kobayashi. Kobayashi, filling in for Timo Glock at Toyota, caused Jenson Button a few heart-stopping moments with his driving at the Brazil Grand Prix.

1326: Last I heard from Sarah, she'd found the stall offering nail-painting in the colours of your favourite F1 team. What I'd give for a Force India manicure in green and orange...

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Abu Dhabi: "I've been wanting to tell you how spectacular the new Abu Dhabi circuit is - because it is. There's actually a lot to take in because even the tiniest detail here is as immaculate and polished as the glossy centrepiece of the Yas hotel that straddles the track. I bumped into Philippe Gurdjian, the Abu Dhabi circuit chief, who, along with designer Herman Tilke, is responsible for the track's aesthetic qualities. He says: 'It was difficult to create something that gives the spirit of Abu Dhabi and at the same time incorporates a lot of technology. I wanted to create the most innovative and creative track in the world. There are many difficulties for the drivers but I've tried to create safety with extra run-off areas.' Could he design an even better track? 'I'm sure I can'."

1319: Quite right, Sir Jackie. And Caroline Cheese will not move to cricket live texts while Ben Dirs is there. Sebastien Buemi leads the way with a 1:42.143, Lewis Hamilton and Rubens Barrichello trail in his wake.

Sir Jackie Stewart on whether Jenson Button should join Lewis Hamilton at McLaren: "Jackie Stewart wouldn't have gone to the Lotus team when Jim Clark was there."

1313: Sutil tells his Force India team he has a problem with the brakes - as he did this morning - and he trundles back to the pits for some repairs. There's some people in the stands! Plenty of room for more though.

1311: Adrian Sutil locks out and spins underneath the grandstand at the end of the long straight. Lewis Hamilton has gone quicker than he managed in first practice with a 1:42.942.

Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima on the radio: "The balance is quite different to the morning because of the wind. Oversteer is the main problem."

1305: No hanging about. Jenson Button wallops a 1:47.116 at the top and there are already 11 times up...

1303: As darkness falls in the desert, we're under way. I've had a latte with three shots and am not likely to have my lunch until at least half two, so apologies in advance if things go awry.

1258: Ha. That text clearly isn't for me, but I'm answering anyway: it's Hamilton. Even better, I've just asked BBC Sport's Andrew Benson - who is actually quite mighty around here - and he says Hamilton. And you can read what Mark Hughes (not that one) thinks, as well.

Text in your views on 81111
From anon via text on 81111: "I've been having this ongoing debate with work colleagues about who is the better driver, Button or Lewis! What's your view, oh mighty one!"

1249: Want some more chat from Bernie about Silverstone? Tough. "We've been negotiating for too long," he told BBC Sport. "That deal is better than anybody else's deal anyway so if they don't like it, it's OK."

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Abu Dhabi: "Now then, we are about to witness another first during this second practice session because Abu Dhabi is playing host to F1's first twilight race. The sunsets are supposed to be amazing here and so we could be in for a spectacular sight if the TV cameras manage to catch the sinking sun. In theory, the drivers won't have to worry too much about visibility as the track will be floodlit. Mark Webber doesn't think the low sun will be as problematic as it was in Australia, where drivers complained about the light dazzling their eyes. BUT he reckons the worst time will be between 5 - 5.15pm when the sun starts to go down. The Aussie has plenty of other things to worry about as he is having a third operation on his leg next month to remove the pin he had put in after breaking his leg."

1243: Does Nico Rosberg really talk like that? Anyway, we've seen the Yas Marina track in the daytime, now we get to see it at dusk, the conditions in which Sunday's race will finish. Excited? Tell me about it on 81111, 606 or Twitter.

Williams driver Nico Rosberg on the Yas Marina circuit: "My view is that it is a cool track, it's going to be good to race on and from a driver's perspective, it sure is fun. The pitlane exit has been talked about a lot, my verdict for the moment is it is pretty exciting!"

1230: Hello...? Ah, there you are. Welcome back to the last but one practice session of the 2009 season. Sniff.

1044: That's it for part one. Join me for part two at 1230 GMT. I can't imagine you've got anything better to do.

1039: Ferrari have got Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher around and about at the Yas Marina this weekend, which has got to be a tad intimidating for poor old Giancarlo Fisichella. The veteran Italian is still struggling to get to grips with the red car in what could be his last race for them.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt tweeting from Abu Dhabi: "Hamilton was saying before first practice that he finds it really easy to learn new circuits - and he's just proved it."

1032: Time's up and neither Jenson Button nor Sebastian Vettel can shift Lewis Hamilton from top spot. Less than three-tenths between the top four of Hamilton, Button, Vettel and Rubens Barrichello. Nick Heidfeld is a slightly surprising fifth ahead of Super Sutil and Mark Webber. Poor from Ferrari: Kimi Raikkonen 15th, Fisi 18th.

1029: Seconds remaining now and Lewis Hamilton is in P1 - but Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel are on quick ones.

Text in your views on 81111
From Nick from Welwyn Garden City, via text on 81111: "Re 1017: Bernie needs to get a clue. The past two seasons have seen two British world champions and he is considering NO British GP? Big mistake!"

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt tweeting from Abu Dhabi: "Intriguing to see Lewis and Jenson at the top of the timesheets - who can go faster in the battle of the British world champions on the grid?"

1019: Adrian Sutil is making the most of his limited time on the track. The German has only done eight laps but he is already up to sixth quickest. Less than 10 minutes remaining.

1017: As I mentioned earlier, Ted Kravitz has had a word with Bernie Ecclestone about the future of the British Grand Prix. Bernie says he would be "delighted" if Silverstone signed the contract on the table, but that negotiations are "finished". Ted asks if there is anything Silverstone can do. Cheeky Bernie responds: "They need to go and buy a pen."

1013: Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button exchanging quickest laps at the top. Hamilton has it for now. Those two have never been on the podium together.

1010: And just as I type that, a relaxed Jenson Button steps on it and puts a 1:44.524 on the board to go top. "Leading the championship every race is exciting but there are pressures," Button said yesterday. "This is the first time I can relax, go out there, do my thing and enjoy the race."

1009: A touch over 20 minutes remaining in first practice. Mark Webber leads the way ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Robert Kubica. Adrian Sutil the only man yet to post a time.

From mwhitcombe on Twitter: "Re 0952: That's the closest we're going to get to seeing Jenson Button do a celebratory donut this weekend!"

BBC Sport's pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie: "I had a bit of a walk on the track yesterday. The pit-lane exit is amazing and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel was telling me he thinks it is the hardest corner on the whole circuit. I took a walk down to have a closer look and found the exit is a steep hill that drops down just before it goes into the tunnel - it's so steep you can't see back up into the pit-lane. There is a blind corner down into the undercover section before it emerges and heads back up hill. When I was there the marshals were practicing what happens if a car gets stuck in the pit-lane."

1002: Adrian Sutil hasn't set a time yet. That's not because he's busy compiling a counter-dossier (see 0926) but down to a brake problem on his Force India. He'll be out imminently, but he has lost valuable time.

BBC pit-lane reporter on Ted Kravitz on Timo Glock's future at Toyota: "The German press were reporting before we came here that he had signed a contract to be Robert Kubica's team-mate at Renault. He told us that isn't true - but he expects to sign a deal in the next week."

0955: Rubens Barrichello follows his Brawn team-mate off at turn 18-19.

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh on The Second Half Of The Season Championship: "Hopefully this weekend coming we can firmly establish ourselves as having won the second half of the season. I very much hope and believe that we are in with a good chance of winning in Abu Dhabi."

0952: Jenson Button spins going from turn 18 into 19 just after going under the hotel. Lewis Hamilton now P1. McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has invented a new world championship to keep the interest up this weekend: The Second Half Of The Season Championship. Not surprisingly, McLaren are doing quite well in that one. In races from Germany on, they are three points behind Red Bull, while Lewis Hamilton leads by two points from Kimi Raikkonen.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Abu Dhabi: "So, the reason for the giggles at BBC HQ is because actor James Corden - of Gavin And Stacey fame - is here filming for Comic Relief. He found himself caught up in a BBC team meeting and after a few hellos said to F1 analyst Martin Brundle, 'yes, we've met before'. Then he began saying that his favourite part of the programme was 'that bloke who wanders around at the start'. The penny dropped as he turned to Brundle - 'that's where I've met you before'. It happens to the best of us."

0944: Seb Vettel and Mark Webber fill the top two - and there'll be a few people picking them to finish there on Sunday. World champion Jenson Button has just posted his first time of the day - a pedestrian 1:50.601.

0937: Problems at turn one, it seems, as Kamui Kobayashi is the latest to catch the curb and run wide. BBC analyst Anthony Davidson is annoyed that it's too easy to recover if you lose it there. I agree. Gareth over on 606 wanted to know whether drivers will have to decide between a tinted of clear visor on Sunday, with it being a day-night race. Unbelievably, I have the answer (via the Great Kravitz): they'll have a tinted tear-off.

0930: And by the way, I'm yet to hear anyone agree with Trulli that it was entirely Sutil's fault. Wonder if the Italian took advice from Rafa Benitez when he compiled his dossier of facts? Six times on the board now: Buemi, Rosberg, Grosjean, Alguersuari, Fisichella, Kobayashi.

0926: Now then, speaking of Trulli, you may remember that he and Adrian Sutil came together on the first lap in Brazil - and then did a lot of pointing and shoving in the aftermath. Trulli is still not over it, and apparently he went to see the stewards again this morning with what Ted Kravitz describes as a "dossier of facts and pictures". There were more handbags in the press conference yesterday too. All very entertaining.

Toyota driver Jarno Trulli: "I'm really impressed by the facilities. The track is very well made. It's all looking good. Quite enjoyable so far. The pit exit is the only question mark. It's a really tricky one - the only tricky part. Going down and turning into the tunnel, it's quite tight."

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Abu Dhabi: "Oh hello. Sorry I'm a little late. It has been a rather comically chaotic morning at BBC HQ, where we're wading through the frenzied activity of the very first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - and the last race of 2009. This weekend is all about firsts and lasts. The firsts, um, first. This is F1's maiden day-night race on the first GP circuit to dip underneath a hotel with run-off areas beneath the stands and a subterranean pit-lane exit. It will also be the first race Jenson Button starts as world champion. The lasts; well, Williams's Nico Rosberg, Renault's Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari are among several drivers saying goodbye to their current teams. The firsts and the lasts should combine to make this a brilliant finale to a fascinating season. I can't wait."

0918: Right, we have a first time on the board: Jaime Alguersuari's 1:50.886. But the Spanish teenager hasn't exactly got to grips with the circuit yet.

Horner on Jenson Button's future: "I just find it staggering he's won the world championship and had a brilliant year and he hasn't been signed up for next year. If I was Brawn, I'd get off the fence pretty quickly because he's a pretty attractive proposition. I wouldn't hang about too long if I were them."

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner on Seb Vettel: "He was gutted after the race in Brazil. He genuinely believed he was still a title contender. That inner belief is a really strong quality. The title wasn't lost in Brazil though, the damage was done in first part of year. We had five non-scores with Seb compared to Jenson's one."

0910: BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz has had a chat with Bernie Ecclestone about the future of the British Grand Prix. The F1 supremo says he ain't budging on the offer Silverstone have been given so if they can't find the money, the race won't be on the 2010 calendar.

0909: World champion Jenson Button giving his Brawn a spin now, after Sebastian Vettel reports that the track is very slippery, dirty and dusty so grip is poor.

0904: Indeed it will Kevin. If you're not familiar with this track, you can watch Martin Brundle and David Coulthard race round it, you can zoom in and fly around it or you have a little look at the good old circuit guide.

Text in your views on 81111
From Kevin in Hatfield, eagerly awaiting the last P1 of the season, via text on 81111: "Be interesting to see what the drivers make of the pit exit tunnel."

0900: Off we go - and it's Mark Webber who is the first F1 driver onto the Yas Marina track. Meanwhile, BBC 5 Live Sports Extra commentator David Croft is just waxing lyrical about the Beyonce gig he went to last night. Jamiroquai, Kings of Leon and Aerosmith are also playing this weekend. Something for everyone there.

Text in your views on 81111
From Mike in Devon, via text on 81111: "Re Robin at 0846: Not sure I agree on that one. With the latest info on the British Grand Prix, I think there will be a lot of politics going on, especially from Bernie."

0854: So we know both world championships are done and dusted, but there are bragging rights to be had... Sebastian Vettel and Rubens Barrichello battle it out for second behind Jenson Button, while Ferrari and McLaren are vying for third in the constructors.

0851: Re-re-refresh manually please and marvel at the moving pictures (if you're in the UK). Otherwise, sit tight and I shall paint you a picture... Ooh, there's a massive car park with no cars in it.

From Ravishin on Twitter: "Waiting by the comm with a cuppa already! Should be a good race with Jenson supporting Rubens."

Text in your views on 81111
From Robin in Dundee, via text on 81111: "Looks like we'll finally have a race where there will be no politicking or scandal; just 20 cars on a grid, racing, pure and simple."

0846: Anyway, that's probably more than enough of my thoughts. How about you have a go? It's 81111, 606 or Twitter.

0843: My thoughts are I'm looking at empty grandstands, Dan. But maybe the pre-race entertainment is out of this world. The track looks magnificent though, no doubt.

Text in your views on 81111
From Dan, Nailsea, via text on 81111: "Hey Caroline! Must say, the circuit looks incredible. I think this is going to become a firm favourite amongst the drivers. Lots of potential for hardcore racing! Any thoughts from yourself?"

0837: Today, we'll get to see the result of a reported £30bn investment and 35m man hours as the drivers get their first taste of the brand spanking new Yas Marina track. Why am I singing The Only Way Is Up?

0830: Welcome to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Or After The Lord Mayor's Show, as some have cruelly dubbed it*.
* Not me. Definitely not me.

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see also
Abu Dhabi GP practice photos
30 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Kovalainen top as McLaren shine
30 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice results
14 Sep 09 |  Results
Discover the new Abu Dhabi track
17 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Zoom in and fly around Yas Marina
29 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
F1 boss urges Silverstone to sign
30 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Brawn 'confident' of strong 2010
30 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Button enjoys absence of pressure
29 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Vettel vows to fight for second
26 Oct 09 |  Formula 1

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