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Paddock Postcard from Abu Dhabi

29 Nov 2015

Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit has one off the most charismatic paddocks of any F1 venue, and it was full of life over the 2015 race weekend. And unsurprisingly, as the last round of the season, there was very much an ‘end-of-term’ atmosphere.

At Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen spent their race build-up racing karts in a sponsor event and riding the world’s fastest rollercoaster at Ferrari World - an experience Vettel appeared to enjoy a little more than his team mate, as witnessed in the video below.

As Prince Andrew, Duke of York attended the Grand Prix, F1 world Champions Sir Jackie Stewart, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve and newly-crowned WEC champion Mark Webber were joined by fellow racers Derek Warwick (the driver steward), Stefan Johansson, Jean Alesi (with F4 race-winning son Guiliano, who hopes to do GP3 in 2016), Alex Wurz, Eje Elgh and Giancarlo Fisichella.

Actor and R&B singer Tyrese Gibson visited, together with fellow thespian Liam Cunningham, Jenson Button’s mother Simone and three sisters were again in support as they had been last year here, and other familiar faces included Enzo Ferrari’s son Piero Lardi Ferrari, singers Tinie Tempah and Rick Astley, David and Karen Richards, Triple 8 boss Roland Dane and V8 Supercars CEO Andrew Warburton, and Dutch former midfielder Edgar Davids.

On track, Stoffel Vandoorne continued his spectacular GP2 season by scoring his seventh victory for ART and beating Pastor Maldonado’s long-standing record by bringing his own win tally up to 11.

The Belgian overtook DAMS’ polesitter Pierre Gasly on the fourth lap and in a race notable for a safety-car intervention and the need to conserve Pirelli’s supersoft and medium tyres, walked away in another of those demonstrations that underlined his impressive talent.

Long-time leader Raffaele Marciello brought his medium-shod Trident car home a gallant second after a late switch to supersofts, ahead of Russian Time’s Mitch Evans. Alex Rosssi confirmed his vice champion status with a strong drive to fourth for Racing Engineering. Gasly was fifth after getting a five-second penalty for pit-lane speeding, ahead of Jordan King who followed Marciello’s strategy but was delayed in his pit stop, thus losing the chance of fifth. Campos’s Ryo Haryanto took seventh ahead of DAMS’ Alex Lynn.

The GP3 title went down to the wire after Saturday’s race saw points leader Esteban Ocon penalised five seconds for exceeding track limits to maintain his lead on the first corner. He finished fourth on corrected times, ahead of Trident title rival Luca Ghiotti, as his own ART team-mate Marvin Kirchhofer took the win ahead of Arden’s Emil Bernstorff and Koiranen’s Jimmy Eriksson. Ocon then made amends in Sunday’s championship decider, his third place behind Campos’s Alex Palou and Carlin’s Antonio Fuoco enough to wrap up the 2015 crown as Ghiotti trailed home fourth.

WATCH: Seb and Kimi versus the world's fastest rollercoaster