5 talking points from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
From Fernando's farewell to Verstappen vs Ocon and huge respect between Hamilton and Vettel, there was very much an end of term atmosphere at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Hamilton and Mercedes don’t ease off
After clinching the Drivers’ and Constructors’ championships in Mexico and Brazil respectively, there were no signs of Hamilton or Mercedes relaxing and taking things easy in Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton and Bottas annexed the front row of the grid as they outpaced the Ferraris.
Despite making an early stop during the VSC period, Hamilton beautifully managed the race and his tyres to claim his and the team's 11th win of the season. The relentless brilliance from both the driver and team should be respected.
Verstappen vs Ocon – Part 2
It was very much take two between the Dutchman and the Frenchman as they found themselves racing each other in the early stages of yesterday’s Grand Prix.
With Verstappen struggling with a loss of power, he found himself behind Ocon. On two occasions, he made lunges into the hairpin and managed to pass the Force India.
However, thanks to the straight-line deficit, Ocon came back twice at him. Nonetheless, Max eventually got through at T11 and it was third time lucky for the Dutch star. He regained normal power and quickly left the Force India trailing in his wake.
Once again, there was contact between them and there is a lot of needle between the pair. If Ocon returns to the grid in 2010, we may see plenty more fireworks in the future.
F1 is still dangerous
Due to the massive safety improvements in the sport in the last 20 years or so, it would be easy to take the lives of drivers for granted.
Yet, Nico Hulkenberg’s nasty crash yesterday showed everyone why that should not be the case.
He rolled multiple times, his machine caught fire briefly and couldn’t get out until the car was turned back over. Did the halo play a part in that? That could be a possibility.
While the halo totally proved its worth at Spa, it’s critical it doesn’t prove to be a massive issue in the future with a crash similar to what we saw yesterday.
Fond farewells and sad goodbyes
There was quite a lot of emotion in the paddock this weekend as drivers leave the sport and head off to pastures new, while some leave teams to join another F1 squad.
Fernando Alonso bade farewell to Formula One and got a massive send-off from the paddock over the weekend after 17 years in the sport. Will he be back? Only time will tell.
It was also goodbye to Marcus Ericsson. The Swede is heading to IndyCar next year following five seasons in F1.
Kimi Raikkonen, Charles Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo and Pierre Gasly, Carlos Sainz and all left their current teams for new ones on good terms.
We saw some sad, low-key exits, too. Stoffel Vandoorne and Sergey Sirotkin took part in their final F1 races. Neither driver got the machinery they deserved to show their full potential and were in the wrong places at the worst time.
Abu Dhabi looks to have been Brendon Hartley’s last race as well. Today it was announced Alexander Albon would replace the well-liked Kiwi.
Respect between fierce rivals
Following a long, tough season, we witnessed some great sportsmanship and respect throughout the weekend between three greats of the sport.
Lewis Hamilton praised Sebastian Vettel, his arch-rival for the title for the last two seasons ‘’It’s been a real honour and a privilege racing against Sebastian. I’ve known him since Formula 3 days and he’s always been an honest, hard-working racing driver and he has always raced his heart out. He did a fantastic job this whole season. There’s so much pressure on us all, so don’t ever look at our shortcomings as anything less than us giving our best and Sebastian did.
Hamilton and Vettel both paid tribute to Alonso in their post-race interviews with David Coulthard. Hamilton called him a ‘’true legend,’’ while Vettel said ‘’well done on his career,’’ and ‘’we will miss him’’.
The most special moment came during the in-lap when the race had finished. As Vettel and Hamilton were doing donuts at the end of the first long straight, Alonso caught up and the three of them went side-by-side through the final sector as the Spaniard completed his final race.
It concluded with all of them doing donuts on the start-finish straight. That will be a scene to treasure forever.