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Russell Sheldon
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I had a fantastic weekend in Abu Dhabi, which started last Thursday, when I went to Dubai International Airport to meet Ross Brawn, a friend and the Team Principal of the Mercedes Grand Prix team. Ross used to build and race 1/32nd scale slot cars in his youth and still has a very keen interest in the hobby.

Ross left slot racing behind him when he got into full-size motor sport in 1976, when he joined March Engineering. He left March in 1978 and joined Williams, followed by stints with FORCE/Beatrice and the Arrows F1 teams. TWR Jaguar hired him in 1989, where he designed the 1991 World Sports Car Championship winning Jaguar XJR-14, which Ross considers the best car he's ever designed. Ross subsequently helped design the F1 Benetton's, winning two F1 World Championships, before moving to Ferrari, helping the Scuderia win another 5 titles. In 2009, he took over the Honda F1 team, renamed it BrawnGP and promptly won the 2009 World Championship with Jenson Button at the wheel.

Whenever I meet Ross, we talk about slot cars, so I thought that it was about time I gave him a modern one. It had to be a 1/32nd scale Jaguar XJR-14. Ross was a scratch-builder and raced 'real' slot cars, with vac-formed bodies and high-tech chassis and being an engineer at the very pinnacle of motor sport - Formula One - which employs all the latest technologies, I thought that a carbon fibre chassis would be a nice touch. Milan Tomasek of MTR32 in the Czech Republic built the model, which Ross was delighted to receive.


Ross was delighted with the 1/32nd scale Jaguar XJR-14 built by Milan!

Arriving in Abu Dhabi, it was time to renew acquaintances.


With Paul Di Resta's girlfriend, Laura, and Lewis Hamilton's stepmother, Linda.


Anthony Hamilton.

With the BBC 5Live team….


Jason Swales and Natalie Pinkham.


Doing my Murray Walker impersonation with BBC TV and 5Live commentator David Croft.

I had a bit of 'work' to do, presenting Paul Di Resta with an Emirates Skywards Gold frequent flyer card in recognition of the hundreds of thousand miles he spends on-board Emirates.


Sebastian Vettel had to dig deep to put his Red Bull on pole position, just 0.009" ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Vettel took the lead at the start, when his right rear tyre lost pressure on the exit of Turn 1. With the tyre flat as he turned into the second corner, he was pitched into a spin. Suspension damaged caused him to retire, after limping back to the pits.



Fernando Alonso finished second, to record Ferrari's 10th podium of the season. He cut the gap between him and second placed Button to 10 points. Massa spun on lap 49, ending his fight with Webber and Button.



Force India played a brilliant game of poker with Mercedes GP in the last two minutes of qualifying, forcing Rosberg and Schumacher to go out and set a time, while Paul Di Resta just went out and came straight back into the garage, completing an untimed lap which allowed him to choose which tyres to start the race on.



Force India opted for a one-stop strategy, electing to start on the harder tyres. Unfortunately, it didn't work out, with Paul finishing 9th, behind team mate Adrian Sutil and the two Mercedes'. A double points finish however allowed Force India to pull 15 points clear of Sauber in the Manufacturers Championship, which could mean a difference of $5 million in prize money at the end of the year…..

Rubens Barrichello had the worst qualifying run ever in his 19-year long career, the new Williams' Cosworth engine just not running, forcing him to abort after just 2-test laps, with no time.



Rubens drove a storming race in the uncompetitive Williams, from 24th and last position to finish 12th. He was a lot more relaxed after the event, despite knowing that Kimi Raikonnen is likely to replace him next year.



Heikki Kovalainen finished 17th in his Lotus. Next year's car will be called a Caterham.



This was Lewis Hamilton's third win of the season and his first since Germany in July, the 17th of his career. Button's second place ensured he finishes ahead of Hamilton in the World Championship, the first time the 2008 World Champion has lost out to a team mate over the course of a season.



Some more scene shots…

Etihad cabin crew were the grid girls…


This is the view from the back of the garages…


Yas Marina Viceroy Hotel by day…


And the view by night…


Deserted pit lane…


Not quite the men in black…
 

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DT
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5,195 Posts
Looking good Russell - fit and trim.

Thanks for posting the photos. Looks like a great venue - a good place to park the Yacht
 

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Alan Tadd
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Sorry I missed it this year Russell....May be back for next years event.

Great photo's as usual.

Regards

Alan
 

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Hi Russell. Averil and I were glued to the tv hoping we would catch a glimse of you in one of the pit garages but it wasn't to be.

Work on the new track is going well now and it will be installed next week end.

Love the photos - nice to have friends in high places in F1.

See you in February. Mike
 

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that looks amazin! not only for the fact natalie pinkham, but to meet one of the last drivers to have raced with senna (barichello) and get so close to the cars! your so lucky! looking for a P.A at all?


great pics tho!
 

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Thanks for posting Russell - always nice to see a non-broadcast view here in the states. I wanna be you when I grow up


Regards,

-- Rakete --
 
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