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Paddock Postcard from Abu Dhabi

23 Nov 2014

The Abu Dhabi paddock mixed royalty with the racing and entertainment worlds as Princes Harry and Andrew were joined by the kings of Jordan and Morocco and several African leaders, actress Michelle Rodriguez and singer Pharrell Williams.

Danny Sullivan was again the driver steward, as Jean Alesi, Gerhard Berger, Max Chilton, Mark Blundell, Giancarlo Fisichella and Mark Webber joined the regulars.

Other racing faces included Prodrive boss David Richards, Daimler Benz bosses Dieter Zetsche and Thomas Weber, Piero Lardi Ferrari, former Ilmor engine guru Mario Illien, former entrants John Macdonald, Dave Price and Fred Opert (visiting again to support former charge Keke Rosberg’s son in his title tilt), driver manager Domingos Piedade, and former FFSA boss Jacques Regis.

In what might prove to be his last Grand Prix, Jenson Button was joined by mother Simone and sisters Natasha, Samantha and Tanya.

On-track, Saturday’s GP2 feature race saw ART’s Stoffel Vandoorne take an emphatic victory from pole position, leaving series champion Jolyon Palmer to fight back past Carlin’s Felipe Nasr after the Brazilian had overtaken his DAMS car on the opening lap, and to take the runner-up slot ahead of a hungry Russian Time’s Mitch Evans. Palmer set fastest lap.

2015 Sauber F1 racer Nasr had to be content with fourth ahead of Palmer’s team-mate Stephane Richelmi, Trident’s Johnny Cecotto, Racing Engineering’s Stefano Coletti and Campos’s Arthur Pic, who starts today’s sprint race from pole position.

Great Britain’s Alex Lynn wrapped up the GP3 crown even before the race began when sole title rival Dean Stoneman was beaten to pole position in his Koiranen car by ART’s Marvin Kirchhofer. Stoneman, however, turned the tables beautifully in the race to beat Kirchhofer. The latter’s team-mate Dino Zamparelli was third ahead of Carlin partners Emil Bernstorff and Lynn, ART’s Alex Fontana, Arden’s Patric Niederhauser and Status’s Nick Yelloly, who starts today’s race from pole.

There was another British victory over the weekend, as an awards dinner at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday evening sponsored by the Cultural and Tourism Authority and the Institution of Engineering Technology celebrated the victory of Colossus F1 as the F1 in Schools World Finals 2014 World Champions. The team of five students from Robert May’s School in Odiham, Hampshire represented England at the event.

Colossus F1 were the outstanding team at this year’s World Finals, setting a new F1 in Schools World Record with a time of 1.003 seconds and winning two other awards as well as the title. The Innovative Thinking Award was presented to the team for their Air Cushion Device, an innovation that caused acceleration and controversy in equal measure. With the aid of this device and their unique water tunnel testing programme, the team smashed the eight year-old world record, though it was declared by the judges not to be admissible for the World Finals event judging. The team’s mastery of Autodesk 3D software proved a winner too, with them also collecting the Pressure Challenge Award, designing and 3D rendering a Formula One helmet.