LIVE TEXT COMMENTARY (all times GMT)
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And on that ridiculous note, live text coverage of the 2009 F1 season ends. It's been alright hasn't it? Thanks for all your sensational contributions throughout the year. I think I even spotted some complimentary texts today. Well one, anyway. Only 19 weeks until we go again.
Just as Jake, Eddie and DC are about to introduce the start of the Red Button Forum - a fella turns up with a tray of shots! Hahaha. EJ looks quite tempted to down his, before sensibly putting it back on the tray.
BBC1 coverage comes to an end. Jake Humphrey seems quite emotional. Silly sausage. However, coverage is not over yet folks: the Forum
is on the Red Button (except on Freeview) and streamed live on this website for UK users. You can get involved on 81111
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Eddie J signs off with a bit of love for David Coulthard... oh no, wait, he's back. "I can't single out a team which looks like dominating next season." DC agrees.
Brawn's Rubens Barrichello after finishing fourth:
"I need to thank the team for giving me a car that was competitive today, and I thank God for the opportunity he gave me this season. It was fantastic. When you drive three bad cars, you never know if you're going to drive a winning car again."
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner:
"The last couple of laps, our hearts were in our mouths on the pit wall. Mark did a brilliant job though and hung in there. We've had a brilliant year, but the bottom line is we lost too much ground at the beginning of the year with the double diffuser."
Third-placed Jenson Button:
"I enjoyed the fight. It was a bonus to finish on the podium after the year we've had. I need to thank everyone at Brawn and Mercedes for all their hard work. It would have been easy to switch off after Brazil, but we didn't. We've come away with a podium, which is a nice way to end the year."
Second-placed Mark Webber:
"At the end there, I had not much of a feeling on the option - I was quite slow on that tyre. I thought it was going to be quite a fight at the end. I had to make sure I was accurate on braking points. We had a good, clean fight."
Race winner Seb Vettel:
"The car was fantastic, it worked brilliantly on both tyres. it was a pleasure to sit in the car. To sum up the season: up and down. The car is getting quicker - it's a shame the season is ending."
WAHAY! It's BB again. Here's Becker's verdict on his fellow German Seb Vettel: "I'm very impressed with young Sebastian. He drives like an experienced driver. I wouldn't be surprised if he goes one more step next year."
Anthony Davidson on BBC Radio 5 live:
"I really enjoy trying to communicate the technical aspects of Formula 1 and although I have really enjoyed working with all the 5 live guys this season I sincerely hope I don't have to do it again! I really want to be back on the track next season."
Brawn boss Ross Brawn:
"It was a great race. I thought we'd have a good one. This season is all much more than we ever expected. The crew did a fantastic job again. They're just so solid - and everyone at the factory."
David Coulthard on BBC1:
"I think it was a great spectacle here at Abu Dhabi and it's been a great season."
Ah, it's the good old rose water they had at Bahrain. Crikey they're sweating buckets on that podium...
BBC pundit Martin Brundle:
"I think Jenson will want to stay at his
team at Brawn, and not move to Lewis's team at McLaren."
Seb Vettel hops up to the top step to hear the anthems. No champagne in Abu Dhabi. Not sure what the replacement fizz is...
Laughs aplenty as Jenson Button and Mark Webber discuss that last-lap ding-dong - and Red Bull team boss Christian Horner congratulates Button on a "great race".
So the top eight: Vettel, Webber, Button, Barrichello, Heidfeld, Kobayashi, Trulli and Buemi.
And that means Vettel takes second in the world championship behind Button, who despite missing out on second, can still celebrate his first podium since Monza.
Jenson Button gave it absolutely everything on that last lap and even got past him a couple of times, but couldn't make it stick. All credit to Mark Webber. Sebastian Vettel is whooping down the radio as he celebrates his fourth win of the season, and Red Bull's sixth in all and third in a row.
1437: SEBASTIAN VETTEL WINS THE ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX Lap 55:
Jenson Button is right on Mark Webber as they come down the first long straight and they are side by side as they turn but it's brilliant defensive work from Webber, who somehow holds him off...
Less than two laps remaining. Sebastian Vettel coasting to victory - but Jenson Button hasn't given up on taking Mark Webber. The world champion has a couple of half-looks - but nothing doing yet.
Jenson Button now having to contend with the dirty air behind Mark Webber. "Nerves in the Red Bull garage - but they're insisting there's nothing wrong with Webber's car," says Ted Kravitz. Brundle reckons the rear tyres have gone.
Jenson Button is flying, Mark Webber is emphatically not - and the world champion is now right up with the Red Bull. What a way this would be to finish the season.
From Betelgeuse on 606:
"Would have been good to see Hamilton win the final race, but it's ending nicely with the Red Bulls and Brawns signing off the story of the season. Nice last laps from Button."
Jenson Button takes another half second out of Mark Webber. He has eight laps in which to catch the Aussie and the gap is now three seconds.
Looks like 'nil points' for Ferrari and McLaren today - so that will mean McLaren taking third in the constructors' championship. Interesting... Jenson Button is closing the gap on Mark Webber in second. Could we have some late drama?
Kamui Kobayashi is sixth but he's chasing Nick Heidfeld and Rubens Barrichello up ahead. The top eight are: Vettel, Webber, Button, Barrichello, Heidfeld, Kobayashi, Trulli, Buemi.
Robert Kubica goes wheel to wheel with Sebastien Buemi - but it's the Pole who comes off worse as he spins, and hands his ninth place to Nico Rosberg. Meanwhile, Vettel and Button into the pits... Button out ahead of his team-mate Rubens Barrichello and in third. Vettel still leads.
Rubens Barrichello and Nick Heidfeld in now from third and fourth - and that's BMW's last pitstop in Formula 1.
Mark Webber in from second and no problems for the Red Bull crew. He slots in behind Jarno Trulli - which will slow the Aussie down considerably unless he can get past.
Nico Rosberg, in his last race for Williams, makes his second stop. As does Bob Kubica - who comes out ahead of Kamui Kobayashi, which is bad news for the Toyota driver.
BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz:
"Kobayashi news: we've heard on the Toyota team radio he's suffering from understeer with these soft tyres. They've told him to use the front-flap adjust. His pace isn't bad though."
Still, we'll have the second stops from the second-stoppers soon. Stuff might happen.
You can tell things have, ahem, settled down out there. We're getting long, lingering shots of the track from above - which looks lovely by the way - and Legard and Brundle are pondering who might be where next season.
Fernando Alonso finally makes his only stop of the race, coming in from 11th. Not really the way to end his career with Renault - but not unexpected.
Your new top six: Vettel, Webber, Button, Barrichello, Heidfeld, Trulli. Ted Kravitz notes that BMW are well set to score good points and overtake Williams for sixth place in the constructors' championship. The battle is on for third between McLaren, on 71, and Ferrari, on 70.
Giancarlo Fisichella takes a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane. David Coulthard is pretty incredulous about it. "Speeding in the pit lane..." he tuts.
Kamui Kobayashi and Heikki Kovalainen make their stops. The Toyota now back to 12th.
Seb Vettel's lead from Mark Webber is exactly nine seconds and Webber's lead from Kamui Kobayashi in third is four seconds. Kimi Raikkonen comes in from seventh for his only stop and he's now on soft tyres.
It's getting very dark out there... Oh here's Jaime Alguersuari, and he denies he ran out of fuel. "We had a problem with the gearbox, the up shift was not there. So it was impossible to continue. They told me to box so I came in straight away but no-one was ready in the Toro Rosso box so I went to the other one. Then when I looked up I realised I was in the wrong place."
Jaime Alguersuari retired because he ran out of fuel, just to compound the embarrassment of stopping at the wrong box.
BBC analyst Martin Brundle:
"Kamui Kobayashi is doing a good job of securing himself a drive for next year with Toyota. He's looking good for a points finish, maybe even a podium."
Lewis Hamilton on BBC Radio 5 live:
"There was a problem with the brakes I couldn't stop the car. I was locking and locking and locking it was harder than ever to drive the car. It's a shame as the car felt so good these last couple of days, but we haven't had many brake problems this year so there you go. But I still think the whole team should be really proud of how we have recovered this season."
Keeping track of all this? Good. The top six: Vettel, Webber, Kobayashi (on a one-stop), Button, Barrichello, Raikkonen (one-stop) and Kovalainen (one-stop).
All going off now. We've got yellow flags. Jaime Alguersuari - who earlier accidentally stopped at the Red Bull pit instead of Toro Rosso's - has come to a halt at turn 14. I cannot believe I've just written that. Well, I suppose they do look quite similar...
Ruddy nora. McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh is pictured telling Lewis Hamilton that they could not risk carrying on because they did not know how serious the brake problem was. Hamilton pats his gaffer on the shoulder and smiles.
LEWIS HAMILTON RETIRES! Shocker.
Ted Kravitz reports that McLaren are about to retire one of their cars... but which one?
Seb Vettel posts a fastest lap and then makes his first stop. He is absolutely miles
ahead of Lewis Hamilton - technically speaking.
Mark Webber comes in for his first stop - but comes out BEHIND Lewis Hamilton. That's the first bit of good news for the former world champ since the race started. But wait... "We may have a right rear brake problem. We'll keep you posted," McLaren tell him. Oh.
In comes leader Lewis Hamilton... No problem and he avoids traffic as he comes out. Jenson Button is also in and emerges just ahead of Kamui Kobayashi - who is immediately all over the Brit. The Toyota man dives this way and that and eventually gets past.
Anthony Davidson on BBC Radio 5 live:
"At the moment it looks like the Red Bulls have got this race covered. We all thought Lewis would shoot off into the distance but any one of the front three could still win this race. It's just what we wanted to happen - great stuff."
Bob Kubica and Rubens Barrichello make their first stops and both take on the harder compound tyres.
Lewis Hamilton has eked out a 1.2 second lead - but it's not enough. Mark Webber is the quickest man out there, and Hamilton looks like he'll be third after the stops, with Jenson Button on his tail.
Replays show Lewis Hamilton locking up again - and Seb Vettel has nicked another tenth out of the lead. Sun getting low, and those floodlights will be coming into play shortly.
BBC pundit David Coulthard:
"Hamilton's obviously got a different set of tyres and he clearly doesn't have the grip or the pace he's had throughout the rest of the weekend. He's going to be overtaken by Sebastien Vettel at the first stops."
Lewis Hamilton locks up and runs wide in the triple right-hander and he loses a whopping eight-tenths. Lead now less than a second.
BBC pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz:
"Giancarlo Fisichella is the only guy out there on the soft tyre and he's up to 16th. He won't score any points which is what he desperately wants in his last race for Ferrari but it's not bad one-stop pace."
"OK Lewis, Vettel is quicker than you," comes the message from McLaren. "The main time loss is third sector, and a little bit in the first."
And now Mark Webber posts a purple lap. The Red Bulls are absolutely flying out there. Lewis Hamilton's lead has actually shrunk a bit to 1.5 seconds.
Anthony Davidson on BBC Radio 5 live:
"Kovalainen is looking pretty racy out there at the moment, he has made up a lot of places but now he is stuck behind Kimi Raikkonen who, unfortunately for him, also has the Kers button."
This isn't quite going to plan for Lewis Hamilton. He sets a quickest lap of the race, but immediately Seb Vettel responds. The gap is now 1.6 seconds. Hamilton stopping two laps earlier than Vettel.
Fernando Alonso gets past Renault team-mate Romain Grosjean for 17th place. Brawn engineer Jock Clear tells Rubens Barrichello that the only car faster than him is Lewis Hamilton, so apparently no problem for the Brazilian. Hamilton is only 1.3 seconds ahead of Vettel, so he isn't exactly charging away at the front.
Replay of the start shows Mark Webber turning in on Rubens Barrichello as he vies with his Red Bull team-mate. As Webber and Barrichello collide, a bit of the Brazilian's car flips up and gets stuck in Jenson Button's sidepod. Brawn are now standing by in the pits with a new nose for Barrichello.
Heikki Kovalainen is a man on the move. The Finn started 18th after a five-place penalty - but he's already made up those places and he is 13th.
Lewis Hamilton gets away well and already you can see he has a massive advantage with his Kers button on the long straight, streaking away from Seb Vettel in second. Mark Webber, in third, and Rubens Barrichello touch at the first corner - and is there damage to the Brawn? Jenson Button overtakes his Brazilian team-mate on the first lap.
Lights out and go, go, go.
From redsharez on 606:
"I am not a Lewis Hamilton fan but he obviously has all the ingredients to become a real world champion as opposed to a one hit wonder. For next season Lewis and Kimi in the same team would be stunning as all the drivers rate Kimi so highly."
Grandstands happily looking much, much fuller as they set off on the parade lap. Lewis Hamilton already miles in front.
Incidentally, music person is probably not his/her job title. Anyway, time to focus, focus, focus...
Loving the retro grooves. Some KLF now as we continue the countdown to the last race of the season. I want to meet the BBC's music person.
Ted Kravitz's grid analysis accompanied by the thumping bass of Vanilla Ice. That's what I will miss most about this season. Flow like a harpoon daily and nightly.
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Abu Dhabi:
"So who do you fancy to win the season finale then? If things go according to plan then Lewis Hamilton should lay down his marker for 2010 by storming to the flag. He starts on pole for McLaren and even when the amount of fuel on board was taken into account he still claimed pole by a half a second - that means he is super fast. The Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are also expected to fight it out for the podium places. BBC commentator Jonathan Legard says the team are aware that McLaren have the edge in terms of the Kers power boost and engine power but they still believe that in the first and third sections of the track (so, the bits that don't include the big, long straight then) that they have the upper hand."
Martin Brundle has finished his grid walk - and now he's having a friendly chat with King Juan Carlos of Spain. What a life.
From Max via text on 81111:
"Dreading the end of the race, I always feel lonely when it all ends for the year! Perhaps I have a problem? Love hurts!"
"I've got to thank you," says EJ to Sir Richard Branson. "You swore live on the telly and everyone said I'd be the first." Moving on, here is the aforementioned Jay Kay - wearing a cream fedora hat. Wacky. And now EJ literally drags the Crown Prince of Bahrain onto camera. Is no one safe???
"Come on Martin, I've got Mark Webber, we're going to nail him," barks EJ as he marches off towards the unsuspecting Aussie. Even Boris Becker gets barged out of the way. Blimey.
Pole sitter Lewis Hamilton:
"You never have it in the bag. We've done a great job all week but we've got to do a solid job out there. We definitely have the pace."
Martin Brundle has taken Eddie Jordan as his wingman on the grid walk... could be chaotic.
BORIS BECKER! The great man looks so cool in his aviator specs, I can't listen to what he's saying.
From Carl1982 on 606:
"I think this will be a good race now the pressure is off, however I suspect some drivers would like to make a point for next season."
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Abu Dhabi:
"It's not only end of term but the end of an era for BMW Sauber. The German-Swiss team are taking part in their 70th and final race after BMW decided to pull out of the sport. BMW's F1 career started back in 1982 as an engine supplier to Brabham, partnering Williams in 2000 before launching their own team in 2006 after buying Peter Sauber's team. BMW Sauber had a marina-side farewell party in the paddock last night with peers Ross Brawn, Christian Horner, Giancarlo Fisichella and others donned in team shirts raising a glass in goodbye. BMW said: 'We wanted to say thank you to our partners, our competitors, the officials, the drivers, the team and the media - so we invited the entire paddock for a farewell drink. The last 10 years in F1 have been very special for us'."
Now then, all you people texting in with gridwalk requests for Brundle. I can exclusively reveal that MB is hoping to speak to Freddie Flintoff and TV funnyman James Corden. So there.
Fernando Alonso is getting ready for his last race with Renault before he heads off to Ferrari. The double world champ says it will be difficult to say goodbye. "This is the team I joined when I was just starting in Formula 1 and where I grew up as a driver. Together we achieved all that we could and so we will always have a special connection." I imagine the (rumoured) £18m salary will make him feel a bit better.
From toxictomb on Twitter:
"Re 1130: Grosjean might find a spot, if not as a driver then as a guide. He does give good 360 views of the car after all."
Seriously, I don't think Brundle takes requests - although I think it's an excellent idea. BBC1 coverage is under way. That'll be the last time I hear The Chain... until I go and see Fleetwood Mac next week. I'm not ashamed.
From Dave via text on 81111:
"Re 1143: Forget Aerosmith, we would love to hear from Jay Kay! He's a true racing fan and fellow Brit. Can Brundle sort that out?"
From Michelle, Birmingham, via text on 81111:
"It's always a horrible feeling on the last race day of the season but I'm quivering with excitement at the prospect of 2010, Nando at Ferrari, next year's champion."
And as for the drivers, if only results from Germany onwards counted, Lewis Hamilton would lead Kimi Raikkonen by two points, with Seb Vettel third on 35. And Hamilton looks a nailed-on cert to win today. Don't believe me,
believe the F1 Mole.
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh brilliantly invented the Second Half Of The Season Championship ahead of this race - so how are his team's chances looking? From Germany onwards, McLaren are three points behind Red Bull, But while Lewis Hamilton is on pole at Yas Marina, Heikki Kovalainen starts down in 18th after a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change. Red Bull are second and third on the grid.
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Abu Dhabi:
"Hello and welcome to the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the last of the 2009 season. How did that happen so quickly?! There is definitely an end-of-term feeling at BBC HQ but the big boss wouldn't let us wear our own clothes or bring board games in. He has also been reminding us that it's just 133 days until the opening race of 2010 in Bahrain. Gulp. An even bigger boss is here and he's just said it's 999 days to the London Olympics. Countdowns like that are why these whip-crackers are in charge."
And cripes, I almost forgot: Boris Boom Boom Becker is about too. Moving on, you'll remember that yesterday Damon Hill
said a deal for Silverstone to host the British Grand Prix was "very close".
Today, the circuit's president has had a little pop at the swanky new Yas Marina track. "The whole thing is more about corporate hospitality and I think the drivers are at the bottom of the chain," Hill told Arabian Business. "I'm a driver so obviously I have an issue with that. I think you have to remember what F1 is about and that's racing. This event is very much focused on corporate entertainment, maybe too much."
Well Kev, I'm not sure if Martin Brundle takes requests, but I'll give it a go. Aerosmith are among a host of stars expected on the grid today. Among them: Kings of Leon, Freddie Flintoff, Naomi Campbell, Timbaland and, er, David Richards, the chairman of Prodrive and Aston Martin.
From Kev via text on 81111:
"If possible can Martin Brundle get a interview with Aerosmith's Steve Tyler on his grid walk please."
The F1 drivers are off on their traditional track parade at the moment. There they are, they're waving enthusiastically at a NEAR-EMPTY STAND. Silverstone, come back, all is forgiven.
Well folks, time to say goodbye to the 2009 Formula 1 season, and with it: BMW, Max Mosley, refuelling, Kers... And probably Romain Grosjean.