2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Race Report
Another mostly uneventful Abu Dhabi Grand Prix closed out the 2018 season. Okay, there was definitely one spectacular accident on track but sadly this race really summed up my feelings for this season. Hamilton beat everyone and the Finnish drivers really fell off. It was even more depressing for a large number of drivers for whom this will probably be their final race in F1.
- Lewis Hamilton – Experienced no contest on track really.
- Sebastian Vettel – Vettel improved one position from the start. Unfortunately he and Ferrari dropped the ball late in the season, otherwise it could have easily been Seb rather than Hamilton celebrating their fifth championship. Better luck next year.
- Max Verstappen – Verstappen drove on the very limits of legality in the Abu Dhabi race and defended himself well after some technical issues at the start. Adding insult to injury, Max overtook Bottas in the standings.
- Daniel Ricciardo – Though he’s leaving Red Bull behind him, Danny boy can be proud of this final race with the Energy Drink team.
- Valtteri Bottas – Bottas began suffering from some tyre issues late in the race which dropped him behind both of the Red Bulls. Considering Valtteri started from grid-2, this was an utterly miserable end-result. Next year, Bottas really has to shape up and challenge his team-mate for the championship. We’ve already seen Bottas be a team-player, now it’s time to drive like he means it.
- Carlos Sainz – Equally impressive as Ricciardo’s 4th, Sainz’s final race for Renault was excellent. Here’s hoping his McLaren tenure will get off to a better start than some other fresh-faced drivers.
- Charles Leclerc – Future Ferrari driver even overtook the man he’ll replace early on in the race. Good luck at Ferrari, Chuck!
- Sergio Perez – One of the two surprise rises from the back of the lot. Perez did all he could to protect Racing Point’s (ex-Force India) honour. Unfortunately, with only one of their drivers seeing the chequered flag, the team suffered the indignity of falling behind McLaren in the standings (which is painful considering they’ve gathered nearly as many points in under half a season as they have during the whole thing). Better luck next year, Checo!
- Romain Grosjean – Haas must be pleased as the last two races have seen both their drivers on points and them clinching the final spot in the Constructors’ Top-5.
- Kevin Magnussen – Ditto.
Golden Pineapple Award: Fernando Alonso, McLaren
As if this season wasn’t disappointing enough, we don’t even get to crown a decisive Pineapple King. Instead Alonso becomes 12th driver over-all and the second McLaren driver to be inducted to the Pineapple Hall of Fame for 2018.
As for the Pineapple Throne, sadly in 2018, we are having to split it three ways between Marcus Ericsson, Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley. Better luck next year for Pierre as you will hopefully not be making this stat so often anymore and too bad for Ericsson and Hartley as they seem to be on their way out of the sport without claiming even this dubious honour.
Drop-out count: 5
By far the most dramatic exit came from Nico Hülkenberg whose car was flipped upside-down by Romain Grosjean during an overtake attempt. This brought the Safety Car on track.
A Virtual Safety Car also needed to be deployed when Kimi Räikkönen’s car froze on the main straight with an electrical issue.
Technical difficulties also ended the race for Marcus Ericsson, Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, for whom his retirement was especially disastrous as he had been giving Verstappen a hard time during the race.
Back of the Lot News:
Brendon Hartley ended what was possibly his final F1 race on a disappointing note. With points scored in only three races this season, I can understand the New Zealander hasn’t had the best time and, to be fair, there have been races which were ruined by technical difficulties. However, a lot has to go wrong for other people in order for Hartley to cling on to his seat next year. I have nothing against the guy, he himself admitted that he made his entry to F1 too late. Whatever happens, Brendon, I wish you the best of luck in whatever series you wind up in.
Amazingly, Lance Stroll beat his team-mate in the final race which adds another disappointing end-note to this season. At any rate, he’ll be glad to be driving for Racing Point next year.
Belgian future Formula E driver Stoffel Vandoorne ended his McLaren run very disappointingly. I wish him better luck in his new series.
Dead last: Sergey Sirotkin – As if the young Russian driver hasn’t been kicked around enough this season, he ends the final race of the season as the very final man on the track. I really feel sorry for Sirotkin and wish him best of luck in whatever series he winds up in, though I also hope he’ll manage to cling to a test-driver’s position somewhere in F1.
This end result is also annoying as it means that Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin have to share the Last Place King award for 2018.