Again, I must start with an apology for missing the last two races. Mexico I was going to do, but forgot about. It must have been an enthralling race though, because I can’t even remember who won! I think I was Verstappen, but don’t quote me on it. Brazil’s excuse is a lot more valid, as I was in Valencia watching the MotoGP.
But I am here now, for the final race of 2017. A season which started off with so much promise, and the real possibility of a title showdown between Hamilton and Vettel. Ferrari’s reliability issues, and Vettel’s first lap disaster at Singapore left the door wide open for Hamilton and Mercedes to take both titles for the fourth season in a row.
Abu Dhabi, hosted its first Grand Prix in 2009 and was won by Sebastian Vettel.
The race in 2010 saw a four-way scrap for the drivers’ championship, with Alonso leading the championship with 248 points, from Red Bull drivers Mark Webber (238) and Vettel (231), and Hamilton in fourth (222). Alonso spent most of the race stuck behind the Renault of Vitaly Petrov, eventually finishing in 7th, losing the title by just 4 points. It was a much-deserved title loss for the Spaniard, as his season was blighted by his demand for his team mate Felipe Massa to move out of his way during the German Grand Prix earlier in the year.
Vettel also took the race win here in 2013. Hamilton has also won here three times; 2011, 2014 and 2016 with Raikkonen taking the win in 2012 and Rosberg in 2015.
The final qualifying session of the season saw Bottas take pole with a stunning lap from Hamilton. But the biggest shock, only one ten place grid penalty for changing engine components was issued! This time to Brendan Hartley, who has been hit with grid penalties in every race he has taken part in.
Today, also marks the end of an era, as Felipe Massa will retire after this race. And this time he means it!
Bottas took the lead from the start from Hamilton and Vettel. Nico Hulkenberg got past Sergio Perez by driving off the track and Magnussen spun to fall to the back of the field.
Perez jumped on the radio to demand Hulkenberg give him the place back and Hulkenberg jumped on his team radio to explain exactly how and why it was Perez’ fault and not his! The stewards agreed with Perez and issued Hulkenberg with a 5 second penalty to be served in his pitstop.
Vandoorne was complaining that he had no rear grip before asking if there was anything he could do about it, only to be told that the team were aware of the issue, but with no signs of any bright ideas in fixing the problem!
Grosjean was having a good fight with Stroll over 13th. He overtook him during the DRS zone, only for Stroll to immediately regain the place in the next DRS zone. Don’t you just love a good DRS overtake? They went for round 2 on lap 9 with the same result. Before Grosjean with the knockout blow in round 3 finally got through with slight contact as Stroll dived down the pitlane for some new tyres.
Lap 14 and nothing was happening on the track. Does anyone want to bring me a toasted cheese sandwich?!
Verstappen pitted on lap 15, coming back out in 9th behind Ocon in a bid to perform the undercut, and get past Raikkonen who pitted the following lap to re-join in 7th in front of Ocon and Verstappen, proving that the undercut isn’t always the right strategy.
Hamilton was told to move his rear brakes are over-heating, only to tell Bono to keep the talking to a minimum. Bono can’t get anything right with Hamilton. He gives him advice, he is told to keep quiet. He keeps quiet and he is told to give more information. I hope he is being well paid!
Gasly spun, Hulkenberg pitted and Vandoorne moaned again about the car, claiming it was like driving a rally car.
Nico Hulkenberg asked his engineer “What did you do to my front wing?” “Exactly what you asked us to” “What did I ask?!” I know It has been a boring race Nico, but surely your concentration isn’t that poor!
Lap 20, Ricciardo pitted, and retired shortly after with a hydraulic problem.
Lap 22, Bottas pitted from the lead while Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race. Hamilton was now trying to jump his team mate in the pits by staying out two laps longer. The gamble didn’t pay off, as Bottas regained the lead when Hamilton went in.
Hamilton on slightly fresher tyres was now in the DRS range of Bottas, and had so much more confidence on the brakes. He was right behind Bottas as they approached traffic, and where is my sandwich? Hamilton locked up and ran wide, losing nearly 2 seconds and giving Bottas some much needed breathing room.
Stroll pitted for a second time, and he had really struggled during the race. His team mate was 10th, and on course for taking a point from his final race.
Sainz pitted but his front left tyre was not put on correctly, causing him to retire, and the team to guarantee themselves a penalty, and quite probably a fine.
Stroll clearly had a problem, as he pitted for a third time.
With 16 laps to go, I had eaten the sandwich and drunk three cups of coffee. I even considered going for a nap because this is like watching grass grow!
Hamilton decided on one last charge at Bottas for the race win, as Hamilton has never won a race during a season after he has won the championship. But he couldn’t get Bottas, who set the fastest lap of the race on lap 53, before crossing the line to take his third win of the season.
Hamilton took second, Vettel third, Raikkonen 4th, Verstappen 5th, Hulkenberg 6th, Perez 7th, Ocon 8th, Alonso 9th and Massa taking the final point in 10th.
Drive of the day, fan vote: Valtteri Bottas.
Drive of the Day: Fionas vote: Valtteri Bottas. Stunning lap in qualifying to take pole, and that gave him track position and he took full advantage and dominated the race, setting the fastest lap on the way.
Conclusions from Abu Dhabi:
- Hamilton has awful hair!
- Ferrari need to be a lot more consistent in 2018 if they want to win the title.
- Force India need to keep the pink cars and let Perez and Ocon race more next season, I miss Force India fights!
- Red Bull have got to sort out their reliability.
- That race needs removing from the calendar. It is one of the most boring races of the year, with virtually no over-taking. Multiple coloured lights and fireworks don’t make the weekend any more interesting!
- Williams had better have a good replacement for Felipe Massa lined up, or he will be coming back!!
- New logo looks like it was designed by a 5 year old
I think that’s all from me, I hope you all have a great winter – like that’s even slightly possible with no racing! See you next year.
Have a lovely retirement Felipe.
IS IT MARCH YET?