The Crazy Formula: Five Amazing Abu Dhabi Moments
Well, the day that all us Formula One fanatics despise annually, and that is of course the day of the last Grand Prix of the year, this year taking place at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi has been on the tail end of the calendar since its introduction in 2009, and more recently served as the season finale, seeing many close year long championship battles finally ended on the track, with the race itself being noted for uniquely starting in daylight and finishing at night.
1. Air Rosberg
After sustaining damage and forcing a pitstop for a new front wing, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg would find himself coming up from the back of the field and behind the HRT of Narain Karthikeyan. Rosberg went for a pass coming around the circuit’s hotel section when, caught out by Karthikeyan’s sudden loss of speed due to a hydraulic failure, hit the back of the HRT and launched up over the top of the car, causing his Mercedes to momentarily fly in the air and have a scary thump into the barriers. Thankfully both drivers escaped uninjured and a lengthy safety car was called to dispose of the debris left on the track
2. Vettel defies the odds
Despite coming into the weekend being one of the lesser drivers with a chance to become the World Champion, it was Sebastian Vettel that crossed the line at the final round in 2010 to become F1’s youngest champion. In a battle initially thought to be realistically between Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Mark Webber and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, first blood went to Vettel as he took pole in Saturday’s qualifying, with Alonso third and Webber. Vettel would go on to take the victory, while trouble for Webber and Alonso, coupled with the pair pitting to cover each other off, fell behind and ultimately could not pass the Renault’s of Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov, leaving a very emotional Vettel taking his first of four championship titles to date.
3. Kimi’s Famous Catchphrase
After a fantastic blast of a start into second for Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen during the 2012 race, he took the lead after Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren suffered a failure from the lead. Kimi’s engineer was informing the Iceman of the gap to second placed Fernando Alonso behind to which he was met with the now famous “Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing!” phrase from Raikkonen, a phrase loved by fans alike and would go on to appear on shirts, jumpers, cups and phone cases alike. He would also go on to tell his engineer to “stop reminding (me) every second!” after he was told to keep warming his tyres during the second safety car period. Kimi would go on to take the win, the first since his 2012 comeback and the first for the then Lotus team.
4. Schumacher's Close Shave
As the field of cars cramped into the tight complex of turns five and six during the first lap of the 2010 edition of the race, Mercedes Nico Rosberg tapped the rear wheel of teammate Michael Schumacher, sending the German into a spin. Helpless as cars edged both sides, Schumacher was hit head on by Force India’s Tonio Liuzzi, who was unsighted by the cars around him. The accident saw the Force India launch up the nose of the Mercedes, miraculously missing Schumacher’s head by mere inches, going to show that the drivers can still be in danger and why safety features like the Halo can be deemed necessary in the sport.
5. Rosberg Finally Does It.
As the previous moments would suggest that Nico Rosberg had not such a good record on the Yas Marina Circuit, 2016 was the year that finally went his way, despite not winning the race. After a long tough battle with Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton for the title, he went into the weekend leading by 12 points and needed to be 3rd or higher if Hamilton won the Grand Prix. Hamilton would lead, and Rosberg trailed behind, knowing the need to not go for unnecessary risks. Hamilton did all he could to hold Rosberg behind, seeming to slow as to try to back Rosberg into Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen behind to win his title, and refusing to speed up even when requested by Mercedes senior Paddy Lowe. This didn’t work, and Rosberg clung on to take his title by only three points. Rosberg was happy to finally beat his rival, after a failure putting him out of contention in 2014 in Abu Dhabi and losing to an on-form Hamilton in 2015. Rosberg would subsequently retire five days after his victory, citing that he finally won like he wanted and desired to be home with his young family and not put any more risk into racing. A decision criticized by many, but I personally believe it took more guts for him to walk away than continue, something I honestly respect Rosberg for.