Recapping all of the additional news and notes from the Yas Marina Circuit following Thursday’s media activities ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Crash.net F1 Digital Editor Luke Smith brings you his paddock notebook.

- There’s only one place to start today’s notebook: Robert Kubica’s racing comeback being confirmed for 2019. Eight years on from the rally accident that left him with severe injuries to his right hand and forearm, Kubica will hit the grid next year as George Russell’s teammate at Williams.

- Kubica conceded his comeback was a story nobody thought was possible, and said he can understand possible reservations about his capabilities given the lingering effects of his injuries, but the news was met with a very warm reaction throughout the paddock.

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- The big loser in the news was Sergey Sirotkin, who is now without an F1 seat for 2019. Sirotkin was officially told the news by Williams on Wednesday, with his backers, SMP Racing, claiming it was their call not to pursue a seat for Sirotkin. SMP Racing also slammed the team for its lack of performance and development through the 2018 season.

- Lewis Hamilton was particularly pleased to learn of Kubica’s return, as it ensures he will remain only the third-oldest driver on the grid behind Kimi Raikkonen and Kubica. “I’m so happy he’s coming back, because Fernando [Alonso] is leaving and I was going to be the second-oldest driver but now I still remain the third,” Hamilton joked. “I can’t tell you how happy I am about that!”

- Following their Interlagos fracas, Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon headlined Thursday’s FIA press conference in Abu Dhabi as they spoke about the incidents both on and off-track. Verstappen made light of the interest in the story, saying: “You guys like the drama, don’t you?”

- The Dutchman showed zero remorse for his reaction to Ocon at the FIA garage, saying he was “really calm” and “it could have been much worse” than the push. Ocon raised a smile during these exact comments.

- Ocon expressed his desire to move on from the matter, and was largely quiet about the incident as a whole, more so than his Red Bull rival.

- The pair were joined by Ferrari teammates Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, both of whom played down the significance of the spat. Raikkonen said “boys will be boys”, while Vettel said he could understand Verstappen’s emotions in the moment.

- Vettel and Raikkonen may be entering their final weekend as teammates, but neither were in particularly reflective moods. Asked what he would miss most about Raikkonen, Vettel said “the silence”, while Raikkonen himself was his typical nonplussed self. “I had practice leaving them once already so it’s not a new thing. I’m not sad because I don’t see why we need to be sad,” he said.

- Raikkonen sits 14 points clear of Valtteri Bottas in the battle for P3 in the drivers’ standings, but the Ferrari driver is not fanatical about keeping the place: “If I end up third, I think we need to go wherever the prize giving is so it’s a negative thing in the end, you know, more travelling, but we’ll see.” This year’s prize-giving is in St. Petersburg, Russia on December 7.

- The opening half of the press conference saw Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton be joined by Formula 2 racers and 2019 F1 drivers George Russell and Lando Norris. Much of the conversation surrounded Alonso’s final race weekend in F1, but the Spaniard said once again that “the door is not closed” to make a comeback in the future.

- Alonso picked Michael Schumacher as his greatest F1 rival “for emotional reasons” and selected the 2012 European Grand Prix at Valencia as his greatest drive, calling it “a race that probably in a normal world we would never be able to win again.” “If we repeated it 100 times, 99 of them we would not have ended up first,” he added.

- As well as having McLaren’s revised livery for the race weekend, Alonso will race with a special helmet design that combines his current design with that used back in 2001 in the early part of his F1 career.

- Stoffel Vandoorne confirmed he will be part of Mercedes’ F1 programme next year, acting as its simulator driver. The current McLaren driver will race with the Mercedes-linked HWA team in Formula E for the 2018/19 campaign.

- Tensions at Toro Rosso showed little sign of subsiding following the team orders row in Brazil. Brendon Hartley said teammate Pierre Gasly had given “a nice speech” to the media about why he was right not to give up the place immediately, but that he had no received a personal explanation about the incident despite expecting one.

- The press conference also heralded the return of Walter Koster, best known for his question in the 2014 Abu Dhabi press conference. You can watch the video of it below.

- Buried in the answer to Walter's question was a hint from Fernando Alonso that he may write a book about his time in F1 next year.

- Outside of the press conference, the main news late in the day was Haas’ decision to lodge a protest against both of Force India’s cars. While the team would not comment on the matter, it is understood to relate to the sporting regulations and whether ‘Racing Point Force India’ is in breach by racing with cars designed by ‘Sahara Force India’. The stewards will meet with both teams at 11am on Friday.

- Haas team boss Günther Steiner said earlier in the day there had been no progress on talks regarding Force India’s rights to prize money despite its reentry. This came following a meeting with F1 CEO Chase Carey in Haas’ hospitality in the morning.

- Hartley confirmed he has not discussed his future any further with Toro Rosso, nor is he yet considering options outside of F1 despite appearing to be out of the picture for a 2019 seat.

- Valtteri Bottas enters the final race of the year bidding to avoid becoming the first Mercedes driver in six years to endure a winless season. Bottas labelled 2018 his worst year in F1 to date, saying he was “disappointed” with how it had gone.

- The new international Formula 3 car was launched in the Abu Dhabi paddock on Thursday evening ahead of the series launch next year, replacing GP3. The new car features Halo cockpit protection, in line with the FIA safety standards.

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