Paddock Postcard from Abu Dhabi 13 Nov 2011
Like Monacos, Abu Dhabis stylish paddock is one of the most social of the season, and this years event was bolstered by concerts for Britney Spears on Friday, Incubus and The Cult on Saturday, and Sir Paul McCartney on Sunday. The former Beatle made an appearance at the track just before qualifying. Also from the music industry were F1 regulars Eric Clapton and Dannii Minogue, Sophie Ellis-Bextor - attending a Grand Prix for the first time - and her husband Richard Jones of British band The Feeling.
Sir Jackie Stewart was back, as was Ron Dennis at McLaren and Piero Lardi Ferrari at Ferrari, together with Manchester City Football Club manager Roberto Mancini and Queens Park Rangers counterpart Neil Warnock. Other footballing stars included Ronaldo, as a guest of Bruno Senna, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Patrick Vieira. Meanwhile, FIA Vice-President Mohammed bin Sulayam also paid a visit, as did a party of Bahrainis led by Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
He told reporters that in the wake of an independent report into his countrys troubles Bahrains leaders would act upon any recommendations and that he was confident the Bahrain race will return to the calendar as scheduled in April 2012.
"It is looking good," he said. "As a force for moderation, sport is a great unifier. There are certainly things that happened in the country that nobody is proud of, but we have an important report coming out on November 23 and that will really give us a narrative of the truth that we can accept.
"Just like any other country that has faced troubles in the past, we will move beyond it. We will learn from it, we will grow and we are committed to reform. This sport has a great following. After the report, there will be implementation of its recommendations and we will move on. That is the way of the world. But it is safe and we look forward to welcoming you there and we will rise to the challenge."
On track, Saturday saw Racing Engineerings Fabio Leimer lead throughout en route to his first GP2 victory, chased home by Caterham Team AirAsias Luiz Razia, who gave his team their best result, and Jolyon Palmer, son of ex-F1 driver Jonathan, who enjoyed his best-ever GP2 performance with a strong third place for Barwa Addax.
Sunday's sprint-race leg of the non-championship GP2 Final fell to debutant and 2011 GP3 runner-up James Calado, who used his pole position to full effect for ART to finish ahead of iSport duo Marcus Ericsson and Tom Dillmann.
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