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Lewis Hamilton Adds Exclamation Point with Abu Dhabi Win

Lewis Hamilton took control of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the start and never let go.  Starting from the pole, Hamilton blasted out in front of the field and put himself out front by nearly two seconds after the second lap.  From then on, he faced nothing in the way of a challenge and cruised home to his fifth win at the track and a fitting end to his championship season.  Hamilton now sits just seven wins away from tying Michael Schumacher for all-time wins at 91.  

Max Verstappen, who started in second maintained that position for his finish though he did race wheel-to-wheel with Charles Leclerc at a few times during the race.  Verstappen proved to be too much and distanced himself from the Ferrari driver and take the second step on the podium. Leclerc settled for third but not without a little bit of controversy, and for a change, it wasn’t with his teammate but instead for a fuel load issue.  (See below).  

Valtteri Bottas drove through the grid, after dropping back because of swapping out parts on his power unit and going over the allotted amount, to snag fourth place for the race and demonstrate just how good both he and Mercedes are.  Sebastian Vettel drove a less than memorable race, not that he was bad but just that he and his car never seemed to get along and be able to go forward and managed to take fifth. Alex Albon took up what has been his customary spot in the latter half of the season, as he has finished in between four and sixth for every race since the summer break, and did not differ by earning sixth. 

Sergio Perez followed Albon across the line, a seemingly surprising finish.  Perez and Racing Point have struggled this season but this finish should be positive way to send off the season and give the team some optimism regarding their future.  Lando Norris brought his McLaren home in eighth, a solid finish, but not enough to pip Perez for tenth in the drivers standings.  

Daniil Kvyat brought his Toro Rosso home in ninth, a decent finish for a car that had shown little in the way of being any kind of threat to challenge the midfield.  For Kvyat, this kind of result is just the type that he needs to do on a consistent basis to keep his spot with the team.  

By scoring tenth in the race, Carlos Sainz secured his spot of sixth in the drivers standings.  Though McLaren had hoped to score him higher, their strategy did not quite work out and Sainz had to overcome dropping to as low as 14th during the midpoint of the race.  For as bad as they have been, McLaren have reasons to feel good about themselves after this year.

The Good

– Valtteri Bottas nearly put himself on the podium after starting at the rear of the field.  If there is anyone who would have benefitted from the DRS being enacted early in the race, Bottas would have been that person.  Instead, his fight through the field proved more difficult in the early stage of the race. Bottas still put together the drive of the day, making his way up to fourth and at one point had eyes on stealing the third spot from Leclerc.  His fourth-place result is a bit of a salve for a weird weekend filled with a strange FP2 crash and the announcement of his divorce. 

Nico Hulkenberg did what he could with his Renault but finished 12th.  This race concludes his rather quiet time with Renault. Hulkenberg rarely caused a stir but also never seemed to be in a position to show his talent.  With Esteban Ocon taking his seat for next year, Hulkenberg says ciao to F1 for the foreseeable future.  

The Bad

– The DRS system was shut down for the first 20 laps of the race for mechanical gremlins.  The SkySports commentators felt the racing to be better when the DRS was inoperable. Maybe.  But a better question is whether or not, after running more than a third of the race was there even a reason to bring it back to life.  

– Alex Albon, were it not for Hamilton taking him out at the last race, the Brazilian GP, would have scored enough points to jump both Gasly and Sainz for the sixth spot in the drivers standings but instead settled for eighth for the year’s tally.  Though the higher spot would have been a reward for a rather stellar second half of the season, Albon is still situated well with Red Bull, showing that the team may have done well to find a proper pairing for Max Verstappen.  

The WTF

– Ferrari declared the wrong fuel amount for Charles Leclerc at the start of the race.  There are few areas where F1 is adamantly strict and messing with the fuel is one of them.  The team were found to have 4.8kg more than they declared initially. Though the team stated that they were relaxed with the investigation, the €50,000 fine to close out the season is disappointing.  Of course, if the fine were being leveled at a lesser team, they might feel it to be punishment, for Ferrari and their coffers, such a fine is a pittance.  

 

The Results

POS NO DRIVER CAR LPS TIME/RTRD PTS
1 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 55 1:34:05.715 26
2 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA 55 +16.772s 18
3 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 55 +43.435s 15
4 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 55 +44.379s 12
5 5 Sebastian Vettel FERRARI 55 +64.357s 10
6 23 Alexander Albon RED BULL RACING HONDA 55 +69.205s 8
7 11 Sergio Perez RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES 54 +1 lap 6
8 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN RENAULT 54 +1 lap 4
9 26 Daniil Kvyat SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 54 +1 lap 2
10 55 Carlos Sainz MCLAREN RENAULT 54 +1 lap 1
11 3 Daniel Ricciardo RENAULT 54 +1 lap 0
12 27 Nico Hulkenberg RENAULT 54 +1 lap 0
13 7 Kimi Räikkönen ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 54 +1 lap 0
14 20 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 54 +1 lap 0
15 8 Romain Grosjean HAAS FERRARI 54 +1 lap 0
16 99 Antonio Giovinazzi ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 54 +1 lap 0
17 63 George Russell WILLIAMS MERCEDES 54 +1 lap 0
18 10 Pierre Gasly SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO HONDA 53 +2 laps 0
19 88 Robert Kubica WILLIAMS MERCEDES 53 +2 laps 0
NC 18 Lance Stroll RACING POINT BWT MERCEDES 45 DNF 0

 

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JACK THOMPSON

I WATCHED MY FIRST F1 RACE SUNDAY NIGHT AND ACTUALLY SAW 2 POSITION CHANGES. THE MOST EXCITEMENT WAS WHETHER THERE WAS A 3 SECOND OR 6 SECOND PIT STOP. THERE WERE SOME BEAUTIFUL YACHTS IN THE HARBOR.

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