Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Practice

There’s a little news to catch up on first:

  • “Formula 1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone has categorically insisted there will be no British Grand Prix at Donington Park next year.” [BBC]
    It’s about time Bernie finally pulled the plug on Donington – they’ve had deadline after deadline. Mind you, he’s still got a hate on for Silverstone – the BBC quotes the poison dwarf as saying “Do we need a British Grand Prix? No.”

    “Silverstone have a contract in front of them. We’ve no commercial arrangement in place for a British Grand Prix for next year. That is why the race has an asterisk beside it on the 2010 calendar. If they can’t make it work then don’t do it. If that happens, there won’t be a British Grand Prix. Simple as that. No-one is forcing them to take it. This is business. We have offered them a deal.”

    Mind you, Silverstone aren’t helping as they’re asking for a discount giving how they’re stepping in at the last minute. Nice try but they won’t win – Bernie will take his toys elsewhere.

  • I’ve already written about the not-so-surprising but nonetheless disappointing result of the election to succeed Max Mosley as President of the FIA; Max “the slimebag” Mosley will be replaced by ex-Ferrari boss Jean Todt. Well done guys – you’ve voted to maintain the Ferrari bias and dictatorial strangehold on Formula One; way to kill off the sport!
  • Disgraced ex-Renault team boss Flavio Briatore is fighting his expulsion from F1 (re: Singapore 2008 investigation). Meanwhile he’s selling his New York apartment and has just cut the asking price from $38m to $25m – what a bargain. 🙂
  • Finally some good news: there’ll be 350 British marshals on duty in Abu Dhabi. [pitpass.com]
    Given the poor (sometime life-threateningly atrocious) state of marshals at some races, I’m pleased to see the organisers of the new race are getting help from the best. If you doubt that the British marshals are that much better, I’ve personally seen marshals rushing to a car that was still airborne mid-accident and I’ve never seen them ignore a driver the way I have in many other Grands Prix – the most recent example that springs to mind is Liuzzi’s accident in Q2 in Brazil, when he’d just destroyed the Force India against the tyre wall and was still in the car, you could clearly see a couple of marshals walk past the car and it was well over 30 seconds before anyone moved to help him.

So, finally, on to practice for the final race of the 2009 season. The Yas Marina circuit reportedly cost £30bn investment and took 35 million man hours to build, and is the only F1 circuit where the pit lane exit is actually through a tunnel! Oh, and this will be the first twilight race, so the drivers will have clear visors on their helmets but use tinted tear-off strips until it gets dark.

Practice 1: {I wasn’t up at 5am so this is gleaned from other reports}
MW is first on track
Obviously the circuit is green (lacking in grip) and SV reports it’s quite dusty
JA 1:50.886
BBC report there’s still an issue left over from the Brazilian Grand Prix:

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.

KK runs wide in Turn 1 but recovers
JB spins in Turn 18 … then teammate RB does the same
30mins left
Only AS yet to post a time – his Force India has a brake problem apparently
JB 1:44.524
Chequered flag
Fastest was LH (1:43.939) followed by JB, SV, RB, NH, SB, AS & MW.

Practice 2:
JB 1:47.116
AS spins under the grandstand (it’s not that grand – the circuit’s capacity is half that of Silverstone’s)
LH 1:42.942
AS reports it’s a brake problem again (as per Q1)
SB 1:42.143
30mins gone = 60mins left
RK’s BMW engine has let go – don’t forget he’s using old engines having used up his quota a couple of races ago
RK tells BBC that “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.”
KK up to P3 – doing well in his 2nd F1 weekend
Chequered flag
Fastest was HK (1:41.307) followed by LH, JB, SV, KK, SB, MW & RB.

Saturday Practice:
GF is keen to be the first on track
KR 1:45.378
HK 1:43.046
LH 1:41.270
JA out with hydraulic failure
30mins gone = 30mins left
LH 1:41.026
SB 1:40.934
LH 1:40.810
RG spins in Turn 6
JB 1:40.625
RG spins again
Fastest was JB (1:40.625) followed by LH, RB, SB, NH, HK, JT & RK.

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