Whilst Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton go head-to-head for the biggest prize in motorsport, another equally tense battle will play out at the back of the field with potentially even more on the line for those involved.

Whilst Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, in one corner, and Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi, in the other, have nothing personal riding on the result of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, their respective team owners know that fate could transform their fortunes at a stroke on Sunday afternoon.

Rival airline bosses Tony Fernandes and Richard Branson entered into a good-natured wager at the start of the season in which the loser - based on the respective championship positions of the Lotus and Virgin teams - would have to don the outfit worn by the other's stewardesses and work a long-haul route. As things stand with one race to run, Branson is facing the embarrassment of having to wear AirAsia colours unless either Glock or di Grassi can better the twelfth place achieved by Kovalainen in Japan.

Fernandes, who has said that his rival would have to work hard on a flight from London to Kuala Lumpur, believes that Branson would secretly enjoy the moment.

"He's quite serious about it, so am I, but, if we don't mess it up, he should be donning our uniform," Fernandes told Reuters at Yas Marina, "He'll have to work the whole flight, he'll have to serve, he'll have to clean - he'll have to clean the toilets. And he has to shave his legs, as we don't allow hairy stewardesses!

"He'll have to look like one of these two girls out there, but he likes dressing up as girls - I think, deep down, he probably hoped he'd lose as it's another chance to dress up in drag!"

Branson, who told Fernandes that that he would have to work Virgin's London-Lagos route if he lost the bet, joked that he was looking for a way out of the wager - but still found a reason to celebrate even if he came off worst.

"I thought in Korea I was safe until Timo was shunted off the track, so things are not looking too hopeful, but we still have tomorrow to go," the bearded entrepreneur said, "However, if he won't let me on his plane without shaved legs, I'm not sure how we are going to conclude this deal.

"There is a rumour with Lotus that they won't have the name any more, so maybe I'll be able to review the small print of the contract. The lawyers are definitely all over it at the moment. The only positive thing is we own 20 per cent of his company, so I'll be able to get some promotion for a company I have a stake in if I lose!"

Fernandes seized the early advantage in Abu Dhabi when both Trulli and Kovalainen out-qualified Glock and di Grassi but, despite the two teams being separated by half a second, reliability is still an issue for both, and anything could still happen.

"That was a fantastic display from the whole team," the Malaysian commented, "To end the final qualifying session of 2010 so far ahead of our main rivals is a great effort, and is just reward for the extremely hard work everyone has put in throughout the whole season. I have enjoyed every second of this weekend so far.

"On top of the strong performances on track yesterday and today, we have been able to take a few more important steps forward for 2011 and next year is looking more exciting than ever but, for now, it is all about this weekend. Richard and I were measured up for our flight attendant uniforms today and that adds an extra bit of excitement to tomorrow's battle. Now it is all about making sure we keep our concentration and focus and finish the season as well as we did today."

The qualifying session started in bright sunshine before darkness began to fall and the artificial light took over. Virgin claimed that Glock was unlucky to be blocked on his second flying lap on his first set of tyres, and di Grassi likewise reported issues with traffic but, despite both drivers improving on their second runs, the team was not quite able to match the pace of the Lotus pair.

"I'm delighted that we finished the last qualifying session of the season as best of the new teams," Trulli admitted, "The car was really good this afternoon, which is a little surprising as I had quite a bit of rear-locking under braking which we didn't have in FP3. Nevertheless, the track was improving throughout the session, so it was important to get a good lap in at the end, which I managed to do. I think I could have found another tenth but I just wanted to make sure we were in front, and the fact we are, with a decent gap to Timo, is a sign of how well we are finishing the season."



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