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Page last updated at 08:33 GMT, Friday, 11 November 2011

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice as it happened


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By David Ornstein

1450: A solid day for McLaren, and Lewis Hamilton in particular. The 26-year-old Briton puts his recent troubles aside to dominate Friday's second practice session and grab the momentum ahead of FP3 and qualifying on Saturday. They've clearly got pace this weekend, the Woking-based outfit. Watch this space. Not so many smiles in the Red Bull or Ferrari garages. Their leadings lights - Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso - both crashed and Turn One. A busy few hours await. Have a read of Sarah Holt report and keep across for any reaction and follow-up stories. I'll see you at 0930 GMT on Saturday, FP3 at 1000 GMT.

Ferrari on Twitter: "Some damage on the rear of Fernando's car, especially on the wing."

Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembery: "It looks like there is a 1.2 second gap between the soft and medium compound tyres. I think there will be two or maybe three stops during the race but we'll see how the track evolves."

1435: Time for a few practice starts as night falls on Yas Marina. That's it for the Red Button and 5 live sports extra output, but do tune into 5 live at 2130 GMT for the F1 preview show. Lot's of Hamilton chat on there, no doubt.

Chequered flag

Avro683 on Twitter: "Wow what a fascinating shot of Vettel's eyes through the clear visor on his crash helmet. He hardly blinks. Total concentration! #BBCF1"

1426: Out comes Vettel on a set of hard tyres, lapping in the 1:47s. Expect a few quick laps from him before the chequered flag, but whether or not he can catch Hamilton is a different matter. It may only be practice but finishing top of the timesheets today would give Lewis a real confidence boost.

BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC 5 live pit-lane reporter Natalie Pinkham: "I'm down at Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel is back in the car. While the car is missing a front wing at the moment, he does want to get out so expect to see him soon."

1420: Hamilton sitting pretty with that 1:39.586, which puts him 0.199 seconds in front of Button, 0.385 ahead of Alonso and 0.394 clear of Massa. Webber, Vettel, Schumacher, Sutil, Di Resta and Kobayashi also in the top 10. But we won't be seeing Alonso again today. There may be concern at Mercedes with Nico Rosberg way down in 20th - not sure if there's a problem there. Keep you posted.

Ferrari on Twitter: "Crash for Fernando at the end of his 3rd lap, exactly where Vettel crashed, so he will miss the final part of the session, mainly aimed on high fuel long run."

BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz: "Ferrari are changing Felipe Massa's fluttering front wing. Ferrari have been very jumpy this weekend. Technical director Pat Fry, an aerodynamicist and some mechanics are inspecting the fluttering wing at the back of the garage. They won't answer any of our questions with a yes or a no but I would imagine they wanted to put the wing which they used in India back on because they wanted to understand more about it. After the Indian Grand Prix, team principal Stefano Domenicali insisted the two wings the team used on Felipe Massa's car in India were identical wings - one was flapping and one was not. During the week, he came out and said there was a manufacturing error with the flappy wing. We have to believe him on that."

BBC Radio 5 Live
World Series by Renault driver and 5 live analyst Alexander Rossi on Fernando Alonso's crash: "It looks like something is going on with the track there. It is the exact same place that Sebastian [Vettel] went off. It doesn't even look like the marshals had time to put the barrier back in place. Fernando looked like he carried a bit too much speed into the corner and then lost the rear end of the car."

1410: This time Fernando Alonso skids off at Turn One! He's spun right round. BANG! Into the safety barriers goes the Ferrari. The two-time world champion leaps out and trudges back to the pits with helmet still firmly on head. What on earth is going on with that opening corner. Must be a problem with the track...

1405: Back to the track we go and Hamilton (1:39.586) remains the main to beat as Button, Alonso and Massa vie for position behind the 2008 world champion. Vettel's looking on from behind a fence. Seems in no rush to get back to the pits. We're hearing there's minimal damage to his car, though.

BBC Radio 5 Live
World Series by Renault driver and 5 live analyst Alexander Rossi on Sebastian Vettel's crash: "It was very interesting. He got sideways and has tried to correct it but the brakes didn't engage. It's strange to see all four tyres lock up. It looks like he was using quite bit of entry kerb. There was a change of grip and the car just locked up. At the same time, his DRS [moveable rear wing overtaking aid] was coming down as well."

1401: Seba's fine. He jumps out of the cockpit, yanks off his sweaty balaclava and jogs away to safety. Not a happy bunny, though. Out comes a recovery truck to rush his car back to the Red Bull garage. A TV replay from the onboard camera shows Vettel hitting the barrier pretty hard. As David Croft on 5 live sports extra points out, these are ominous signs for the German's rivals - usually when he crashes out in practice he goes on to qualify on pole and win the race.

1355: World champ Sebastian Vettel completely loses it going into Turn One! He skids sideways across the run-off and bashes into the safety barriers. Out come the yellow caution flags and most of the big guns head back into the pits.

1350: Out of nowhere, the McLarens strike! Jenson Button goes quickest with a 1:39.970, only for team-mate Lewis Hamilton to reel off a 1:39.586. Double whammy. Alonso, Vettel and Webber all knocked down the pecking order. Now let's see what they've got...

Pirelli on Twitter: "Paul Hembery: "The race this weekend should be mostly on the soft tyre. I reckon we're looking mostly at two stops."

Ferrari on Twitter: "Both cars are back in the garage. Both drivers improved their best lap time: 1.39.971 for Fernando, 1.40.569 for Felipe."

penrose1986 on Twitter: "Looks like Alonso is on fire - good to see Ferrari getting back in the game, should be exciting times in the front pack this weekend."

1340: This time Fernando Alonso becomes the first man to go under 1:40. In fact, it's a 1:39.971 and it takes him 0.226 seconds in front of Vettel atop the timesheets. Webber, Hamilton, Schumacher and Sutil are all within a second of the Spaniard. Barrichello, by the way, has put his FP1 engine problems to one side to post 12 timed laps in FP2, but he's down in 17th with a 1:43.206. Liuzzi bottom of the pile with a 1:49.804 from six laps.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Abu Dhabi: "Just time for a quick word from F1 newcomer Robert Wickens, who ran his first practice session for Virgin Racing this morning. The Canadian, who is driving for Renault and Virgin in next week's young driver test at this track, was satisfied to finish half a second slower than the experienced Timo Glock. 'It was a good learning experience,' Wickens said. 'Everything felt good - I've been with the team for a while now and I felt comfortable. I was going quicker and quicker every lap. So it's been a promising practice session. I'm close to Timo and I think I can only be happy with the job I've done.'"

1335: We've just seen pictures of Mark Webber going backwards. Yes, backwards. Not sure what that was about. He's still third fastest with a 1:40.301 but now he's back in the pits. Alonso still leading the way with a 1:40.141, 0.056 seconds ahead of Vettel.

Pirelli's motorsport director Paul Hembery: "At this point in the season, our emphasis is obviously on refining our tyre choices for next year, which is why we are seeing some new tyres during free practice here and the young driver test [taking place in Abu Dhabi next week]. With very limited opportunities for testing during the season, this is important for us to collect information as we develop our strategy for 2012, which will feature tyres that are a bit different from this year's range. We're very familiar with the Yas Marina circuit as a testing venue so we're confident that the tyre choice we have made for the race should suit the characteristics of the track. Abu Dhabi is an absolutely fantastic facility with some good overtaking opportunities, so we're very pleased to be celebrating our first anniversary there."

1330: At this stage of the weekend, dust on the track is expected to cause graining, but we haven't seen too much yet. Hats off to Pirelli for that - their tyres have helped contribute to a hugely exciting season. Yes, the championships have already been decided, but we've undoubtedly had some belting races.

Pirelli on Twitter: "Alonso is on the experimental soft tyre, setting a time of 1m40.141s to go quickest so far. The track is cleaner and temperatures are lower."

1325: Michael Schumacher up in sixth but there looks to be some sort of issue with his Mercedes - he's shot off the track and on to the run-off three times in this session alone. Sort it out, MSC.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Abu Dhabi: "Despite interrupting his post-practice lunch of cheese, salmon, tomato and melon, Romain Grosjean didn't mind having a chat with me about his return for Renault in first practice. The 25-year-old finished nearly half a second faster than regular driver Vitaly Petrov as he vies for a promotion back to the race seat he occupied before the Russian came along. 'F1 in an unbelievable sensation and I forgot it - but it came back quickly,' Grosjean said. 'There were a few things to discover, the DRS (overtaking aid), Kers (power-boost system) and the Pirelli tyres. Today was a good opportunity for me, it was a test but we have to look at Brazil and do the same there. It was a positive morning and I'm very happy. It was a better help for next year but it doesn't mean either that I'm going to be in the car.' The team also told me that Petrov's car suffered an electrical engine problem that saw him leap out of the car at the end of the session and that they've been investigating the problem."

1322: And with it, Alonso dives into the pits. Vettel, Webber, Sutil and Hamilton already there. Tricky for the drivers as the sun goes down and light turns to dark. It's all about the high-tech visors.

1320: A scintillating lap by Fernando Alonso sees the Spanish two-time world champion go fastest, 0.056 seconds ahead of Vettel. The big guns really starting to showcase their pace now.

1315: Low and behold, Sebastian Vettel takes over as the fastest man on the track. It was always going to happen at some point. A lap of 1:40.197 does the business to put the German four tenths ahead of Webber, with Sutil up in third with a 1:40.951 and Hamilton (1:41.002) fourth-fastest and looking strong. Schumacher, Button, Massa, Di Resta and Maldonado also in the mix.

BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC 5 live pit-lane reporter Natalie Pinkham: "The first session was an eventful one for Ferrari. Felipe Massa spun at Turn One and Fernando Alonso had his problem at Turn Five. I spoke to the team during the break and they said Felipe Massa had hit some debris and in doing so damaged his medium tyres. He also damaged his experimental soft tyres when he spun. There was no problem with the front wing on either car and no changes have been made from the India Grand Prix set-up."

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Abu Dhabi: "Daniel Ricciardo borrowed a Red Bull to blitz the young driver tests at the Yas Marina circuit almost 12 months ago and stake his claim to a place in F1. The Australian was quickly parachuted in as a reserve for feeder team Toro Rosso, and he has since been loaned to HRT as a race driver. But has the 22-year-old done enough in the last year to earn a permanent place on the grid? 'Dr Marko still says hi to me so I might still be in his good books,' joked Ricciardo, referring to Red Bull's motorsport consultant Dr Helmut Marko. 'From now on it's a year-by-year contract with Red Bull. There is nothing fixed for next year. I'm hoping that I'll remain in their programme somewhere but a race drive is a must.' When asked if he would rather keep a seat at HRT than return to a reserve role within the Red Bull family he said: 'I think… yeah. You learn more as a race car driver no matter what situation it is. I'm hoping the week after Brazil I'll know something.'"

1308: Sebastian Vettel leaps atop the timesheets, only to be knocked straight off his perch by Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber with a lap of one minute, 40.723 seconds. Schumacher, Button and Di Resta all in the top five while Alonso, Maldonado, Alguersuari, Petrov and Massa complete the top 10. Lots of you interested to see how Ferrari fare after their morning mishaps. So far, so good.

sous83 on Twitter: "After watching "Senna" [the documentary], can't but have the utmost respect for F1 drivers. Passion and dedication, great models for our kids! #bbcf1"

1300 Out comes the Renault of Bruno Senna to signal the start of FP2. The sun's gradually setting on Yas Island and, quite frankly, it looks bloomin' marvellous.

Team Lotus on Twitter: "FP2 will be starting in around three minutes. Conditions similar to FP1, air temp 27, track temp 30."

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Abu Dhabi: "The day is beyond its hottest point now but it is still 27C and sunny here. The pleasant temperatures mean the long, wide paddock here is jostling with people, who are happy to bathe in some November sunshine. Those less keen on the relentless heat are sitting in the corridors of shade between the teams' hospitality units or along the lapping waters of the marina which edges the back of the paddock. The reason we are still here, of course, is that Abu Dhabi plays host to F1's only twilight race. The race on Sunday will start at 1700 local time [1300 GMT] and the cars will chase the setting sun as it sinks below the horizon and the circuit's brilliant illuminations come to life."

1245: Exactly 15 minutes until the lights go green for another 90-minute session. Watch it live on the Red Button or the BBC Sport website and listen to audio commentary via 5 live sports extra. You can have your say by tweeting me @bbcsport_david using the Twitter hashtag #BBCF1 or text us on 81111 (UK). Thoughts, questions, predictions, celeb spots... chuck 'em my way!

Renault on Twitter: "Counting down to P2, when Bruno [Senna] will jump back into the car."

1240: McLaren certainly laid down a marker earlier on as Jenson Button set the fastest time in FP1, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton just over a tenth further back. Can the Brit pack maintain that pace in FP2 or will Red Bull and Ferrari show their hands?

C13YLE on Twitter: "Ahhhh grand prix weekend. Happy days. I can see a win for McLaren on Sunday #bbcf1"

The sun is out
1230: Back we go to the glorious Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, home to the penultimate grand prix of the 2011 Formula 1 season. The sun's shining, the engines are revving, the excitement's building. The second free practice session for Sunday's race is almost upon us. Welcome...

BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle on Twitter: "Now this is a mega commentary box. Abu Dhabi F1 venue looks even more amazing than when it was opened 2 years ago. Surprising to see both Ferraris spinning and running off track so much. A new aero part not doing it's job properly there I suspect. Agree Abu Dhabi track hasn't generated much good racing action. Will be fascinating to see if Pirellis, 2xDRS zones and KERS make any difference."

1050: Well, wasn't that enjoyable? And no, British-based readers, I'm not talking about the rare glimpse of proper blue skies and genuine blazing sunshine. Plenty to take from the weekend's opening free practice session, and there's another to come a bit later. At 1300 GMT, to be precise. I'll be back at 1230 GMT to get us up and running, but in the meantime grab yourself and brew and have a read of Sarah Holt's FP1 report. See you soon.

1042: Splitting the McLarens is the Red Bull of... Mark Webber, the Aussie second-fastest with a lap of 1:40.389. Team-mate and world champion Sebastian Vettel (1:40.755) finishes fourth and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso (1:40.801) fifth. Impressive performances by Jean-Eric Vergne (1:42.633) for Toro Rosso and Renault reserve driver Romain Grosjean (1:42.685).

McLaren on Twitter: "A practice start each and that's the end of our session! So we ended up first (BUT 1m40.263s) and third (HAM 1m40.403s)."

Chequered flag

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Abu Dhabi: "Adrian Sutil said there had been 'no real progress' on clearing up where his F1 future lies. The 28-year-old German is facing competition from reserve Nico Hulkenberg for his seat at Force India and has been for talks with Williams. 'Who says that I'm just waiting for Force India?' Sutil coolly teased the media pack in the desert sunshine. 'I can survive also somehow in a different way. I don't think after so many years doing a good job in this team I have to shiver and think about my future. I'm relaxed.' Sutil said he had spoken to team boss Vijay Mallya since the last race in India. 'He's very loyal to me; I'm very loyal to him,' he explained. 'He told me some things that we all agreed we wanted to announce as soon as possible for both sides. It should be before Brazil now, absolutely.'"

1029: A personal fastest lap for Adrian Sutil sees the Force India man leap up to seventh. Nice work, sir.

BBC Radio 5 Live
1029: An exhaust problem for Renault's Vitaly Petrov. Smoke rising from his car. "I can smell burning carbon fibre," says pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz on 5 live sports extra. "They've got the CO2 extinguishers out. They'll have to find out what's burning and try to get him back out for FP2, but they've got a big job on their hands there."

1025: Five minutes to go and Jenson Button is still the man to beat after that flying lap of one minute, 40.263 seconds. Hamilton 0.140 seconds adrift and Mark Webber a smidgen further back. Vettel (1:40.755) is fourth-fastest and Alonso (1:41.377) is up to fifth. Barrichello the only man without a timed lap in FP1 following that engine failure early doors.

1022: Lots of talk on 5 live sports extra about music in garages. Apparently it's banging in Red Bull but silent in McLaren from Thursday onwards. Think it would irritate me to have music on until after the race on Sunday. You? And, aside from The Chain, what tunes would get you in the mood for F1 racing?

Virgin Racing on Twitter: "Both drivers in and out of the garage working through aero adjusts."

Sir Jackie Stewart on Kimi Raikkonen: "I would like to see him coming back and I don't care what team it is with. I think Kimi Raikkonen would come back in a whole different mood. If he comes back, Raikkonen will be going like hell and I don't think it is too late for him to demonstrate that in a fast fashion. I'm not sure too many teams would fancy him that much. He's never been a great communicator or sponsor-friendly. He's got to prove himself because Schumacher came back and has not been able to deliver. The rumour in the paddock is that he's asking for 15 million - that's probably euros or dollars. That would be a ridiculously high amount of money if it's true. I don't see Williams coming up with that."

Team Lotus on Twitter: "Heikki and Jarno are 16th and 17th now, ahead of di Resta and Petrov. Getting ready to switch to the medium compound tyre now."

1015: Button, Hamilton, Webber, Vettel and Massa remain the top five, with Rosberg, Alonso, Grosjean, Alguersuari and Maldonado making the top 10. The drivers' and constructors' championships may be done and dusted but don't underestimate what a Grand Prix win means to these guys and it's also fascinating to see what they're already working on for next season. There are still two races to go, but I'd like to know what you've made of 2011 and what you're wishing for from 2012. Just tweet me @bbcsport_david using the Twitter hashtag #BBCF1 or text in on 81111 (UK).

Jackie Stewart on Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa, who have clashed six times this season:"I think it's uncomfortable for both of them. It's uncomfortable for Massa because sometimes people have tried to blame him. With respect to Lewis's last episode in India, he shouldn't have been where he was. Massa closed the door on him pretty heavily but it's a great belief in my mind that you never put yourself in a position where you're snookered. If someone can pot the ball, you're going to lose. In that situation, if a driver reacted in an unsuspecting fashion, he was going to be the loser - and that was Lewis."

Jackie Stewart on the Ferraris' off-track excursions: "I think they've got a problem with that car - it's clear. Alonso is a good driver - he is as good as it gets in mind-management, and to be off the track as many times as he has this morning tells you something about the car."

1006: Hamilton set the fastest lap before Jenson Button usurps his McLaren team-mate. It's a 1:40.263 for the 2009 world champ as Fernando Alonso goes into the run-off AGAIN. Something wrong with that Ferrari. Webber, Vettel and Massa complete the top five.

1000: Bad times for Ferrari. Felipe Massa touches the white line and loses his rear end at Turn One. Then team-mate Fernando Alonso goes off at Turns Five and Six. Sort it out, lads. "Must be their development car," says pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz on 5 live sports extra. "Massa is shaking his head as if to say 'what is this car you've given me?'". More as and when we get it, folks.

0958: Our pit-lane reports Natalie Pinkham says Rubens Barrichello has suffered a "catastrophic" engine failure. That's him done for the session. He'll have a new engine for FP2 but he's still within his allocation for 2011 so no grid penalty. Williams team-mate Pastor Maldonado does, however, have a grid penalty for using his ninth engine of the season this weekend. He'll drop 10 places.

0957: It's also brought to our attention that Red Bull have some flo-viz paint on Webber's diffuser. In other words, they're working on how air flows out of the diffuser.

0955: Maldonado bashes his front left against a bollard, so it's back to the pits for him. Already there is Fernando Alonso, who's having a new rear wing put on his motor. Already experimenting ahead of 2012 by the looks of it. Teams are allowed 16 days' pre-season testing, which means only eight for each driver.

Jenson Button
BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Abu Dhabi: "Television pictures from inside the McLaren garage have just shown a lovely close-up of Jenson Button's aerodynamically-challenging moustache. The McLaren driver is growing a 'tache in support of Movember, which raises funds and awareness for men's health issues. He said he was surprised by how blond it is but seemed quite pleased when I told him it made him look like a Seventies TV detective, adding that his model girlfriend Jessica Michibata was also keen on it. The Sauber team are also racing funds for Movember, although Sergio Perez has so far only been seen sporting a stick-on moustache."

0948: "I'm very optimistic," Button says ahead of the season's penultimate race. "We saw at the last Grand Prix that even though we didn't have the ultimate speed to catch and pass Sebastian, we made him work hard for the win. Tactically, McLaren ran a first-class race: I got all the right calls from the pit wall and the pit crew did a fantastic job. The championship may not be at stake any more but we're still aiming to win races and put on a tremendous show. It's usually been quite difficult to overtake here, especially last year, but I think that DRS will change all that. The back straight is one of the longest in Formula 1 so I expect to see a lot of action there. It would be great to see the new rules turn this circuit into a place where overtaking is more common and more exciting."

0946: Talking of McLarens, Jenson Button goes to the head of the timesheets with a 1:40.955. Leads Mark Webber by half a second and Vettel by 0.865 seconds. Hamilton and Alonso complete the top five. Plus ca change...

0942: The McLarens seem pretty well suited to this medium-downforce track, which features a really long main straight and few high-speed changes of direction (one area where Red Bull are in a league of their own). "I think we've got every reason to be confident for Abu Dhabi," says Lewis Hamilton. "This circuit should really suit the characteristics of our car - we should be able to capitalise on the layout to maximise the benefit of DRS [moveable rear wing overtaking aid] and Kers [power-boost system], both of which are very strong on our car. Red Bull and Sebastian may have clinched both championships, but I'm still determined to end the season on a winning high. I've won two Grands Prix this year, and I'd love to double that by the end of the year! It would also be a great reward for everybody at McLaren."

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Abu Dhabi: "So has Fernando Alonso been having any recurring nightmares since losing the 2010 title here in Abu Dhabi? The Ferrari driver came to the final race of last season leading the world championship but a disastrous strategy decision by his team to stop early for tyres saw him lose the title to Sebastian Vettel. So what went through his mind when he arrived back in Abu Dhabi for the first time? 'When I arrived here I felt very good,' Alonso said with a smile. 'I woke up, went swimming, from there I saw the paddock with the boats here, the colours, nice temperature and I said: "What a wonderful place to host a race." The flight was also very convenient. I'm not thinking of last year. I know it's strange but that was honestly my first impression.' While Alonso was in amusing form he did put on a more serious face when he named his target for the weekend. 'I have 72 podiums so far, which means 72 trophies at home,' he added. 'They come from all the circuits on the calendar apart from Abu Dhabi. There is only one trophy missing at home and I hope that this year I can add the one from Abu Dhabi.'"

0935: Lewis, by the way, is trying out Pirelli's experimental soft tyre. Looking good with that 1:41.846. Sebastian Vettel now second with a 1:43.674. Webber and Alonso now out and about too.

0932: Hamilton is still the quickest man out on the 5.554km circuit, posting a 1:41.846 to go 2.777 seconds faster than Pastor Maldonado. Lewis's old foe Felipe Massa 3.132 seconds off the pace, with Kovalainen, Grosjean, Alguersuari, Massa, Di Resta, Vergne, Ricciardo, Liuzzi and Wickens also on the timesheets.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt on Twitter: "Barrichello brings his Williams to a halt, unplugs the steering wheel & climbs out. Radio Williams says: 'Engine has gone, no power'."

0925: Bad news for Rubens Barrichello. The Brazilian parks his car on the run-off. He's had a total shut-off there and reports "oil pressure" on the Williams team radio.

0923: That man Lewis Hamilton goes round in one minute, 43.552 seconds to set the pace. Grosjean a couple of seconds back. Liuzzi and Ricciardo have also set timed laps.

BBC Radio 5 Live
Three-time Formula 1 world champion Sir Jackie Stewart on 5 live sports extra: "Rubens Barrichello has got giant experience. On track he been delivering as well as he can with the car he has. When you see two drivers where one is experienced and one is inexperienced and they're both doing the same times on track, it usually means the car is not good enough for the good driver to take advantage of his skills. I'm not sure how many opportunities Rubens has outside of Williams as there are not many teams that are competitive who are still available. If I were him, I would rather be competitive in another formula rather than stay in Formula 1. I think he would get more satisfaction doing that as he knows what it's like to be at the top."

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Abu Dhabi: "If there was an award in F1 for keeping your chin up in public, Rubens Barrichello would be the winner. The 39-year-old Brazilian is refusing to give up hope of keeping his seat with Williams in 2012 - or finding one elsewhere - despite former world champion Kimi Raikkonen revealing he has held talks with Williams about making his F1 comeback with them next season. Barrichello is so optimistic that he is refusing to think about a final farewell to his home fans at the last race of the year in Brazil. 'I might go to the Brazilian Grand Prix without any confirmation,' he said. 'But I'm not saying goodbye to my fans. I want to be there next year. Life is too good to be moaning about why they haven't signed me yet. I cannot talk bad about Kimi or anyone really. I just hope I'm the better option.'"

0915: No timed laps as yet, just installations. And the moment I say that, Grosjean lays down a 1:50.375.

0912: Final bit of celeb news... for now... there are two free concerts at the track this weekend. Britney Spears plays on Friday night and Sir Paul McCartney on Saturday night. Anyone going?

0910: Cannavaro, by the way, was playing for UAE League team Al-Ahli Dubai until a serious knee injury ended his career in July. He's now an ambassador for the club.

A celeb has been spotted
Ferrari on Twitter: "Two special guests in our garage: Marcello Lippi and Fabio Cannavaro.... Good memories of a fantastic football summer in 2006! Our Vicepresident Piero Ferrari is also attending the event."

0900: Out come a flurry of cars on to what is one of the most spectacular circuits on the calendar. Well, 5 live pit-lane reporter Natalie Pinkham tells us Abu Dhabi is the richest city in the world, so what would you expect? Yas Marina has a number of unique features including a pit-lane exit that crosses under the track and another part of it that passes directly under the Yas Hotel. The hotel has an illuminated, colour-changing grid shell that gleams across the Yas Island skyline as dusk falls. There's also a very long main straight and the traditional run-off areas are replaced with widespread use of Tecpro barriers. Some say it has the feel of a street circuit such as Monaco or Valencia.

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt on Twitter: "TEA was urgently needed after a 25-minute walk to circuit in the stifling desert heat! A few changes to the driver line-up for FP1. Canadian reserve Robbie Wickens replaces Jerome d'Ambrosio at Virgin. Jean-Eric Vergne is in for Sebastien Buemi at Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean returns for Renault in place of Bruno Senna. Here's an interesting fact about Grosjean. He told me he is learning to be a chef on the side by helping out at a restaurant in Paris."

The sun is out
Toro Rosso on Twitter: "After India, it's nice to see blue sky again. A busy day ahead with 3 drivers in 2 cars, as Monsieur Vergne is driving Buemi's car in FP1."

0850: It's not all doom and gloom for our Lewis, mind. He was leading in Abu Dhabi two years ago, and would almost certainly have won, only for a brake problem to force him out of the race. Will he fare better this Sunday? Let me know your thoughts on that and anything else of an F1 nature... you can tweet me @bbcsport_david using the Twitter hashtag #BBCF1 or text in on 81111 (UK).

BBC Sport's Sarah Holt in Abu Dhabi: "Hello and welcome to the penultimate race of the season, in the desert lands of the United Arab Emirates. It was here at the glittering Yas Marina venue that Sebastian Vettel sensationally saw off four of his rivals last year to win his first world title for Red Bull. The 24-year-old returns to the scene of his triumph having sewn up a second world championship three races ago in Japan but there is still plenty to occupy us over the next three days. The voracious Vettel is chasing his 12th win of the season, while Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton all vie for the honour of finishing as runner-up. They all say it doesn't mean much to them but you can be sure each of them secretly wants to come out on top in that intriguing mini-battle. Elsewhere, Williams driver Rubens Barrichello, Force India's Adrian Sutil and Red Bull's junior drivers at Toro Rosso and Daniel Ricciardo, who has been loaned to HRT, are all striving to prove they are worth their place on the grid in 2012."

0845: Unfortunately for Hamilton, this is a race over which Sebastian Vettel has complete monopoly. He triumphed in 2009 and repeated the trick in 2010, capturing a maiden world title in the process. This time round he arrives at Yas Marina with his second drivers' championship already in the bag. Will he make it a hat-trick?

0830: Try as you might, there's just no taking Lewis Hamilton out of the spotlight right now. On and off the track, 2011 has been a year the 2008 world champion wants to forget and he attracted yet more headlines on Thursday when he suggested claims by Martin Whitmarsh that his form has been affected by team-mate Jenson Button's success were "rubbish". That's before we even go into his ongoing feud with Felipe Massa - or the loss, by his own admission, of the "bubble" of support around him. Safe to say, the 26-year-old will be desperate to bounce back with a victory this weekend.

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After 60 of 61 laps
Position Driver Team

Race stopped at 60 laps

1 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes
2 Germany S Vettel Red Bull
3 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull
4 Spain F Alonso Ferrari
5 Brazil F Massa Williams
6 France J Vergne Toro Rosso
7 Mexico S Perez Force India
8 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari
9 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India
10 Denmark K Magnussen McLaren
11 Finland V Bottas Williams
12 Venezuela P Maldonado Lotus
13 France R Grosjean Lotus
14 Russia D Kvyat Toro Rosso
15 Sweden M Ericsson Caterham
16 France J Bianchi Marussia
17 Great Britain M Chilton Marussia
18 Great Britain J Button (ret.) McLaren
19 Germany A Sutil (ret.) Sauber
20 Mexico E Gutierrez (ret.) Sauber
21 Germany N Rosberg (ret.) Mercedes
22 Japan K Kobayashi (ret.) Caterham

see also
Hamilton heads Button in practice
11 Nov 11 |  Formula One
Hamilton dismisses boss's theory
11 Nov 11 |  Formula One
Vettel beats Button in Indian GP
30 Oct 11 |  Formula 1

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