'Into the Night with Style'
A review of the final race of the 2019 F1 season in Abu Dhabi
Coming into the weekend, there were still a few loose threads to tie up for the 2019 F1 Season. Who would come out on top for third place in the driver’s standings? Could Renault keep Toro Rosso at bay for fifth in the Constructor’s standings? Would Sainz be able to secure sixth place in the Driver’s standings? The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix answered all these questions neatly whilst setting the stage up for an exciting 2020 Season.
Mercedes had a supreme race from Lewis Hamilton – the level of dominance not one seen since the early Hybrid Era. The six time World Champion managed to achieve pole position in the final qualifying of the year before going on to win the race from first place on the grid. Earning the extra championship point for the fastest lap of the race served as the icing on the cake for Lewis. Nothing got in his way and his eleventh victory of the season in his two hundred and fiftieth F1 race was easily one of his smoothest victories.
Bottas started the race from twentieth on the grid due to requiring two new engines coming into the final Grand Prix weekend. Despite this though, he managed to weave his way expertly through the field and came home in a respectable fourth.
He may yet be promoted to third depending on the steward’s inquiry into Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari but he gave his all over the course of the race and put in some very natural and faultless overtakes throughout. He has stepped up this season and has put himself in a great position to challenge Hamilton for the title in 2020.
Photo Credit: Mercedes Media Database
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen started from second place on the grid and finished there too. The Dutchman experienced some trouble after his first pit stop and despite being able to identify what the problems were with the car, the team were unable to do anything about them. Verstappen should be happy with the race overall however as Mercedes were pretty much unbeatable and second place was likely to be the best they could achieve.
Alex Albon finished his rookie year in sixth place at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He’d been driving in a strong fifth place for most of the race but was overtaken by Vettel in the closing stages of the race and was unable to reclaim the position. Albon should be happy though as he ends his first season in F1 as arguably the strongest rookie on the grid – and besting several experienced drivers in the driver’s standings.
Charles Leclerc finished in third place for Ferrari – but this could change with an investigation by the stewards currently occurring. This is because there was a significant difference in the amount of fuel in his car that was declared by Ferrari prior to the race and the levels of fuel found in his car by the stewards before the race began. If found to be in breach of this rule – one that is very black and white in that the amount of fuel in the car is either legal or illegal – it could mean that Leclerc is disqualified from the race entirely. It would mean that Ferrari would once again have made an obvious blunder that a team of their calibre simply shouldn’t be making – and one they really can’t afford to make, especially after a season plagued with mistakes from start to finish.
Sebastian Vettel finished in fifth place after a late overtake on Albon. The four time World Champion has a lot of thinking to do in the Christmas break as prior to the start of this Grand Prix, he was ninety points and three positions down on his 2018 campaign. After the race, he seemed pretty keen to get all of his interviews over with quickly so he could leave the track which says it all really. Here’s hoping he can bounce back for 2020 and give Ferrari fans the driver they deserve.
Sergio Perez finished in a remarkable seventh place for Racing Point after a superb piece of strategy from the team enabled him to fight for point finishing positions in the final third of the race. He diced long and hard with Lando Norris before finally being able to overcome the rookie driver and give Racing Point some good news to finish the year with. Lance Stroll didn’t have a good race at all as he had to retire towards the end of the race for mechanical issues after a first lap collision with Pierre Gasly. The self inflicted damage meant that the Canadian had been driving round at the back making up the numbers for the grid up to that point of the race.
McLaren had a solid race – albeit not one that was better than Brazil but that was going to be hard to beat so soon after. Norris finished in eighth place after a very strong drive. His teammate Carlos Sainz finished in tenth place after losing a late battle with Kvyat, the single point gained today ensured he secured sixth place in the Driver’s standings. It was a good way for the team to end 2019 as they’ve made many positive strides this year which sees them ascending back towards where they should be – fighting for podiums amongst the top teams.
Both Renault drivers just missed out on the points for the final race of the season. Daniel Ricciardo finished in eleventh place – but did at least manage to have some fun overtaking and battling for positions throughout the race. Hulkenberg finished his final race in F1 – for now at least – in twelfth place. It would have been great to see him higher up the finishing order – especially when he was driving up in fourth place for a while, but the Renault car simply didn’t have what it took for him to stay there. He did at least get Driver of the Day which shows how much he will be missed in F1.
Toro Rosso had a mixed final race; they are still on the grid next year albeit with a different name, Daniil Kvyat finished in ninth place after managing to launch himself down the inside of Sainz in the late stages of the race without causing a collision. He was then able to hold off the Spanish driver and supply the team with a few points to end the season. Pierre Gasly had contact with the two Racing Point cars on the opening lap of the race and was unable to progress any higher than eighteenth place on the grid.
Photo Credit: Haas F1 Team
Raikkonen finished in thirteenth place for Alfa Romeo. Abu Dhabi wasn’t a track that suited the car, the opposite of Brazil in many ways and teammate Giovinazzi was only able to come home in sixteenth place.
There was disappointment for Haas too who have been struggling all year. Magnusson finished in fourteenth place with Grosjean just behind him in fifteenth place.
George Russell came over the finish line in seventeenth place for Williams with Kubica finishing his final race in F1 down in nineteenth place. It’s been a tough year for Williams and Haas but at least now, both teams can look forward to 2020 where hopefully their prospects are much better.
It wasn’t a classic race, but it was a smooth one that had some exciting elements to it from start to finish. The midfield is as close as ever and the lack of DRS available to the teams for part of the race made for some entertaining racing as the drivers had to really work hard if they wanted to make their way up the pecking order. With fourteen weeks to go until the lights go out again in Melbourne, there is plenty to dissect from this season and a lot of lessons that can be learned up and down the grid going into 2020.
What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.