The Undercut: Why Abu Dhabi 2017 was a dreadful excuse for a Grand Prix
Let’s not beat around the bush here, there really is no way to sugar coat this but that was a dreadful excuse for a Grand Prix.
Abu Dhabi, with it’s beautiful-to-look-at but utterly hopeless track, can usually be relied upon to provide a processional event but this one went well and truly beyond that. Processional doesn’t even begin to describe this travesty of an F1 race, you’ll see more racing in the Lord Mayor's Parade.
The scoresheet tells you all you need to know about this one. Of the top ten, four of them, Valtteri Bottas (1st), Lewis Hamilton (2nd), Sebastian Vettel (3rd) and Felipe Massa (10th) finished in the position they started in. Five others only moved up a place because Daniel Ricciardo retired in front of them.
His place in the top ten was taken by Fernando Alonso who moved up all of two places.
That really was it. If Lewis can’t pass Valtteri and Fernando can only gain a couple of positions, then something is very wrong. An hour and a half of watching traffic on the M25 would have been more entertaining. And cheaper too.
There were a couple of very brief moments where excitement threatened to break out. Carlos Sainz was sent out with only three wheels on his wagon, possibly endangering the £9 million battle for points for his team against Toro Rosso and Haas, while Romain Grosjean had a nice two or three lap battle with Lance Stroll but that was about it.
Thankfully for Renault, they had Mr Reliable, Nico Hulkenberg, in the other car and with only the fear of an engine failure for the anxious folk in the garage, nothing, not even his five second time penalty for doing a bit of off-track overtaking, was stopping him bagging sixth place and the eight points to send Renault ahead of the increasingly hapless Toro Rosso in the final standings.
The most exciting thing to happen all afternoon (other than the air display before the start) was the unveiling of a logo, which caused much frothing of the mouth on Twitter. One person told me they’d never watch F1 again because of it. Really? The bigger problem was the yawnfest we’d all just endured, not a flipping logo.
After the race, in which even some of the drivers said they were bored rigid, the usual hand wringing began, with various people blaming the cars, the track or in most cases both.
I’ll be honest with you and say that the subject of aerodynamics makes about as much sense to me as Donald Trump’s hairdo but even I’ve picked up on the fact that the front wing in particular, causes problems with overtaking, while on the evidence of the Stroll-Grosjean ding-dong, the Drag Reduction System undoes as many overtakes as it creates.
This is simple stuff to sort out and with Ross Brawn having the knowledge he does and the will to improve the show, we can but hope he is able to change things. And soon.
As for the track. Well, what is there to say that hasn’t already been said?
Clearly, with a blank canvas to start off with, they could have come up with a decent effort like the Circuit of the Americas have. But no. They went for bling and hotels which change colour, all flat as a pancake and with about as much excitement as a wet weekend in Grimsby. And I apologise to Grimsby for that comparison.
Kimi Raikkonen, on first visiting Yas Marina, said something along the lines that the first couple of corners were fine but the rest of it was not that good, although he used one short word instead of ‘not that good’. Imagine hearing that when you’ve just spent a billion dollars building the place.
So, I have an idea. The owners of the circuit are obviously not short of a bob or two and they tend to get things done out there, so this can be fixed for 2018.
Bulldoze the place flat. Raze it to the ground. Build an exact replica of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps (though don’t worry about the trees) buy some of that weather changing technology the Russians have, to introduce the odd shower and bingo. You have a race track that will be worth all that oil money.
Abu Dhabi Do!