Welcome to Top Gear’s live blog from Abu Dhabi’s stunning Yas Marina Circuit. We’ll be posting updates throughout the day in an effort to give you an insight into the sights, sounds and smells of this afternoon’s climactic F1 title decider. Keep hitting refresh to see what we’ve been up to and feel free to give us a shout on Twitter via @BBC_TopGear with any feedback. Enjoy the race!
6:12am (GMT) Morning all! We’re on the road to Yas Island. It’s just gone ten in the morning here in Abu Dhabi, but already an extremely spicy 27 degrees. Best slap on some sun lotion in the cab to avoid blending into the Ferrari garage come the green light at 5pm….
6:53am We’ve arrived! Even hotter now. That polo neck jumper may have been a mistake.
7:27am Mooching around the F1 Village. Toro Rosso making up for lack of track pace by having the hottest merchandise girls.
8:12am We’re in the paddock. Experiencing massive lanyard envy having just spotted a guy sporting FIVE of them round his neck. In other news, is this where the next Formula one world champion is currently having his cornflakes?
8:27am Check out the media centre. Feel like we’re about to launch something into space. Atmosphere is still surprisingly calm, but there’s definitely the underlying feeling of a storm brewing…
9:12am Atmosphere starting to gain momentum now, with grandstands filling out and inappropriately dressed ladies by the bucketful sauntering up and down the paddock like it’s Bond street. We’ve so far seen Mark Webber, (looking typically calm and collected) Bernie Ecclestone, (looking typically Lord of the Rings-esque) and Ron Dennis (sporting some fetching sky blue trousers). More as we spot them…
9:26am Here’s Bruno Senna enjoying a chat with his impossibly hot girlfriend (and a considerably less hot man in sunglasses) outside the Hispania camp. He may be all smiles, but it’s been a debut season to forget for the Brazilian, who’s so far failed to score a single point. Could he be a surprise top ten finisher today? We wouldn’t bet on it, sadly.
10:12am Amazing view from the roof of Yas Marina Circuit’s media building. We’re overlooking turn 18, situated right next to the Yas Hotel where we’ll hopefully get to see some opportunistic moves later on. Sounds like the flag’s just been waved on the GP2 race, meaning this could be a good juncture to grab a spot of lunch. Grub in the media canteen doesn’t look up to much so may end up heading back to the F1 Village and going nuts on candy floss and Cherry Coke.
10:48am Lots of noise at the sharp end of the paddock now, with gangs people hanging around the Ferrari building, hoping for a glimpse of Fernando and Felipe. No big stars braving the crowds just yet. Two hours to go. Are you as excited as we are?
11:24amJust seen Giancarlo Fisichella chatting to pals outside the Ferrari camp. Still no sign of a drive in 2011 for the Italian – could ditching the vastly improved Force India team be the biggest mistake of his career?
11:32am Right, let’s open it up to the floor. What’s your pick for today’s top five? We wouldn’t be surprised to see Alonso’s rivals ganging up on him and causing some damage, leaving Vettel, Hamilton and Webber on the podium. Jenson and Felipe will have their minds on next year already, so we’re calling Rosberg and Barrichello for fourth and fifth. Agree? Aggressively disagree? Drop us a comment to share your predictions…
12:01pm We can confirm that Ron Dennis has changed into some more sensible-coloured trousers. Hopefully not because he heard we’d made fun of his previously sky blue strides.
12:22pm Sun’s getting low in the sky and it’s nearly time for some racing to happen. Currently stood in the paddock outside the McLaren and Ferrari camps. Next to Felipe Massa’s brother, as it happens. Lewis and Jenson just crossed over to the garage, high-fiving security on the way in. Good luck, gents.
12:40pm The new Formula One world champion? What do you reckon?
12:59pm Our view for the next 55 laps of history-making F1 action. But who’s going to come out on top? Will it be Alonso? Vettel? Webber? Even Hamilton? Brace yourselves – we’re just moments away from finding out…
1:10pm Horrific smash for Schumacher – lucky Liuzzi didn’t take his head clean off. Looked like Rosberg was to blame for spinning him. The final insult in a season where the young German has firmly outclassed his mentor.
1:22pm Vettel’s looking very strong up front, but his pace will all be for nothing if teammate Webber can’t nab fourth place from Alonso. Remember, Alonso only needs to finish fourth to take the title.
1:27pm That’s Webber in for new boots – must’ve picked up some damage when he scraped that barrier a few laps back. Can’t have been a scheduled stop this early, surely? Looks like the Aussie’s out of the title fight either way. Better luck next year, Marko.
1:31pm Floodlights are on now at Yas Marina Circuit, as Massa takes an early pit stop. Hamilton hanging onto the back of Vettel nicely, but even if he can get past, he’ll need some sort of drama to befall both Vettel and Alonso if he’s to pull off an amazing upset and win his second world title.
1:36pm The hard tyre’s working wonders for Webber, so in comes Alonso to put on a set of his own. The people lounging on their yachts in the marina just behind us look like they couldn’t care less, the fools.
1:42pm Massa’s stuck behind a Toro Rosso, which pretty much sums up how poor his season’s been. Hasn’t been the same since his big accident last year, in our opinion. Meanwhile, Kobayashi has stormed up to fourth. He’s yet to stop, of course, but he’s showing the same flair that saw him finish sixth last year. Expect points from the Japanese driver today.
1:50pm Alonso gets frustrated behind Petrov and runs off the track! Keeps his cool though and rejoins without losing position to Webber. Hamilton’s now had his first stop. Sun’s just set and the Yas Hotel is looking twinkly in the twilight. Mmmm… twinkly.
2:02pm Hamilton looks like sticking one on Kubica any moment now. Only Button’s left to pit from the front-runners – looks like Alonso’s the big loser after the first round of stops. Championship looks like Vettel’s unless Alonso starts overtaking some people soonish.
2:16pm Still waiting for a moment of brilliance from someone – we’ve seen very little in the way of overtaking maneuvers, thanks to the dust that collects off the racing line out here in the desert. Button finally pits and rejoins in fourth. Alonso now all over the back of Petrov, but can’t find a way through. Championship still currently heading to young Sebastian Vettel.
2:27pm Ten laps to go and it’ll take a miracle to prise the title from Vettel now. That, or a repeat of his famously bad fortune with reliability. One of the two.
2:29pm Fair enough, nHeroGo – we’d seen this as more of a companion to TV viewing or web streaming rather than a replacement. For the record, with seven laps left it’s currently: Vettel, Hamilton, Button, Rosberg, Kubica, Petrov, Alonso, Webber, Alguersuari, Massa.
2:35pm Five laps until the fat lady sings, and the Red Bull pit crew will be gnawing their fingernails down to their shoulders. Can Vettel cope with the pressure and roll it home to pick up his first world title at the tender age of 23?
2:39pm Final lap. How the hell has Alonso let this get away from him? He ought to have walked it from third on the grid. He should certainly be zipping past those Renaults, at least.
2:41pm That’s it! Vettel wins, Hamilton second, Button third, Rosberg fourth, Kubica fifth, Petrov sixth, Alonso seventh, Webber eighth, Alguersuari ninth and Massa tenth. Vettel is world champion! Yachts blast their horns as the young German passes the marina on his victory lap, and the fans in the grandstands are going nuts. A fairly uneventful race, it has to be said, but take nothing away from Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel – he’s pulled off the improbable and becomes a thoroughly deserving world champion.