The Chequered Flag Falls On The 2018 Season With Dramatic Finale in Abu Dhabi

After another impressive season with Mercedes, it seems that nothing could stop five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton from dominating the race track once again on Sunday afternoon in a somewhat dramatic fashion.

Qualifying results meant that Mercedes had a front row lockout, Hamilton taking prime place on pole position followed by Bottas in second, ahead of the two Ferrari’s of Vettel and Raikkonen in third and fourth, and the two Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen in fifth and sixth. The top ten was completed by Romain Grosjean in seventh, an impressive lap time put Charles Leclerc in eighth, Esteban Ocon  was ninth and rounding out the top ten was Nico Hulkenberg for Renault.

As daylight faded and the floodlights dominated the night sky, the drivers lined up on the grid, many facing an emotional race ahead; the likes of Kimi Raikkonen who was about to take on his last race for Ferrari, Daniel Ricciardo’s last dance for Red Bull Racing, and of course Fernando Alonso’s final ever Formula One race. It was going to be a challenging afternoon in the desert.

Lights out and both Mercedes, followed by both Ferraris and Daniel Ricciardo, got a clean start into turn one, chased by the rest of the pack. Grosjean and Alonso both ran wide but quickly rejoined, with Fernando losing a few places to Ericsson and Gasly. Max Verstappen was strong off the line, however he encountered a problem with a water temperature sensor which temporarily slowed him into turn two, dropping him down the order.  After speaking over the team radio, Max managed to reset the system and the sensor issue was resolved.

2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sunday – Steve Etherington

Leclerc shot up the order to sixth followed by Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Verstappen, Ocon, Sainz and Perez. Leclerc was closing in on Ricciardo and the two switched places numerous times, with Daniel eventually fighting his way back up the field.

Meanwhile, Grosjean and Hulkenberg were fighting behind them for position. Grosjean’s Haas was on the outside line going into the corner, Hulkenberg right alongside him. Nico attempted to move across in front of Grosjean, however he misjudged the corner and, as a result, the pair locked wheels, forcing Hulkenberg’s car to barrel through the air into the barriers, the car coming to rest upside down and with some flames igniting in some of the rear bodywork. The Safety Car was deployed and, thankfully, Nico was unscathed if not a little shaken from the accident.

It was a disappointing race for Kimi Raikkonen whose Ferrari came to a stand still on the start-finish straight at the end of lap seven, the display on his steering wheel going black; a disappointing end to his last race for Ferrari.

Kimi’s technical issue meant that Virtual Safety Car was deployed and Mercedes took the plunge, deciding to bring Hamilton in for supersoft tyres on lap eight of fifty-five. He emerged in P5.

Numerous battles were being had across the board, notably between Ocon and Verstappen who had collided in Brazil. This time, Max got the place without any problems. Gasly and Ericsson were having a scrap before Ericsson’s car suffered a technical failure, and Ocon and Sainz were scrapping for P7.

2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sunday – Steve Etherington

By lap 23, many of the drivers had pitted. However, Red Bull decided to keep Daniel Ricciardo out for a long stint on the ultrasofts, the Australian leading the race before pitting on lap 34 for supersofts, the slower of the compounds. He came out of the pitlane in P5 behind teammate Verstappen.

By lap 35 Bottas was struggling, locking up on several occasions. Sebastian Vettel took advantage of this and managed to steal second place. Both Red Bulls soon closed up on a struggling Bottas and snatched another two places from him, Max up to the final podium spot and Daniel in 4th position.

As the race reached its closing stages, technical issues arose for Esteban Ocon, Pierre Gasly and Marcus Ericsson who all were forced to retire, a disappointing end to each of their seasons.

Despite the drama behind him, Lewis Hamilton had a faultless race, cruising to his 73rd career victory in Formula One. The podium was completed by Sebastian Vettel in 2nd place and Max Verstappen in 3rd, Daniel Ricciardo finishing his 100th race and last for Red Bull Racing in an admirable 4th position.

Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Valtteri Bottas finished in 5th followed by an impressive result for Renaults’ Carlos Sainz in 6th and Alfa Romeo Saubers’ Charles Leclerc in 7th, both in their final races for their respective teams before moving on to pastures new at McLaren and Ferrari.

It was a well fought but disappointing final race for double world champion Fernando Alonso, who just missed out on the points in P11. At the end of the race, Alonso was joined by Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel who all performed doughnuts on the home straight for the Abu Dhabi crowds as a farewell to the 2018 season and the legendary Spanish driver, a truly remarkable end to the championship. The countdown is on for 2019!

 

Featured Image: 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Ferrari Media

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Season Finale

GP ABU DHABI F1/2016 – ABU DHABI 27/11/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

The season finale for Formula One will take place in Abu Dhabi, the final race of the 2017 season will be held in Yas Marina Circuit this Sunday. A season which was very interesting if we consider that it was the first year that Mercedes worried about the championship, Ferrari considered as a difficult opponent for the Silver Arrows, but some poor judgements allowed Mercedes to seal the constructors’ title in COTA and the drivers’ championship in Mexico.

In Brazil, Valtteri Bottas secured the pole-position, but Sebastian Vettel took the lead on the opening lap and led till the chequered flag, it has been Ferrari’s first victory in Brazil since Massa’s victory in 2008. Kimi Raikkonen finished third, behind Bottas. It was Vettel’s fifth victory in 2017, four less than Lewis Hamilton, Vettel has almost secured the second place in the championship as he is 21 points ahead of Bottas with one race to go. In Brazil, Lewis Hamilton repeated an epic achievement which he firstly achieved in Hungary in 2014, the Brit started the race from the pits and managed to lead the race for a few laps.

GP ABU DHABI F1/2016 – ABU DHABI 26/11/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

YAS MARINA CIRCUIT

Laps: 55

Circuit Length: 5.554 km

Race Length: 305.355 km

Fastest Lap: 1:40.279 (Sebastian Vettel – 2009)

Two DRS zones, one is located on the long straight between turn 7 and 8, the second zone is between turn 9 and 11. The average speeds on the track are around 190 m/h, while the top speeds are 325 km/h, the circuit is consisted by nine right turns and 12 left turns and the drivers are racing in an anti-clockwise direction.

Nico Hulkenberg – “The circuit itself is quite amazing and the facilities are really impressive. It’s a long lap with a weird rhythm so it’s key to get comfortable with the change of flow. The corners are a lot different to each other so it’s vital to find a good balance, get accustomed to the conditions and master it. Abu Dhabi is a really fun place for a season finale. I’ve finished in the top seven three times in the last three years so I’m looking forward to it and ready to fight for some points. The constructors’ championship will go down to the wire for sixth in Abu Dhabi and I’m really relishing the challenge. The track should suit us better than Interlagos. It’s the season finale, there’s plenty at stake and that makes me very excited.I head to Abu Dhabi hoping to score well. I want to kick back on Sunday night at Yas Marina with the team and celebrate a job well done.”

GP ABU DHABI F1/2016 – ABU DHABI 27/11/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

Pirelli has nominated the three softest compounds for the Abu Dhabi grand prix, soft, supersoft and ultrasoft tyres are available to the teams.

The ideal way to close the season is a battle between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull for the chequered flag in Yas Marina. The three teams have high chances to win the race and the track is ideal for close battles.

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