Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Race Report

Today saw the curtain fall on the 2017 Formula 1 season, as the final race in Abu Dhabi confirmed who finished where in the championship.

Scuderia Ferrari:

Thanks to a third place in today’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel made sure of finishing second in the 2017 World Championship, while Kimi Raikkonen’s fourth place finish sees him jump ahead of Ricciardo to take fourth spot in the classification. Scuderia Ferrari has racked up its biggest points score in one season, with 522 to its name.
However, the Abu Dhabi race was not exactly a thriller. The positions remained the same after the start, even if there were a few duels and Kimi made sure Ricciardo knew he was right behind him. Nothing much changed over the following laps, as Yas Marina is not a great venue for overtaking. The run of pit stops began on lap 15, it being the best way to make up ground in Abu Dhabi. Verstappen kicked it off, with Ferrari “covering” the move, bringing in Kimi, who was in front of Max, on the following lap. A switch to the Supersofts and a change of wing angle, all in just over 2 seconds: the strategy worked and the Iceman maintained station.
Ricciardo brought his Red Bull in on lap 20 and Ferrari got ready in pit lane for Seb, who was ahead of Daniel. The move worked well, but, anyway, Ricciardo had to retire immediately afterwards. The two Ferraris were therefore in third and fourth places, at the moment that Bottas pitted. When Hamilton also came in for the red-banded tyres, that was it for the run of pit stops for the leaders.
After that, unfortunately for the fans, nothing much happened apart from Sebastian putting in a fastest lap on lap 50, while Kimi fended off Verstappen. “Thanks to you all, really,” was Seb’s radio message. Farewell then to 2018.

Haas F1 Team:

Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen finished 11th and 13th, respectively, in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Sunday at Yas Marina Circuit.

Both drivers rallied in the 55-lap race around the 5.554-kilometer (3.451-mile), 21-turn track, with Grosjean starting 16th and Magnussen recovering from a first-lap spin that put him last in the 20-car field.

Grosjean’s forward drive was highlighted by a spirited battle with the Williams of Lance Stroll. The two combatants vied for 13th place over the course of six laps, with Grosjean launching the first salvo on lap six as he passed Stroll in the first chicane, only to have Stroll get the position back on the following straight. This scenario played out again on lap 10, with Grosjean getting past Stroll momentarily before Stroll took back the spot. Grosjean finally made his move stick on lap 11 with a savvy move around the outside of Stroll in turn 11 after running wheel-to-wheel in the preceding corners. Stroll pitted shortly thereafter, having flat-spotted his tires during the scrape with Grosjean.

Magnussen, meanwhile, put forth a tenacious effort, attacking from the moment he righted his Haas VF-17 after spinning in turn three. He climbed to 14th before making his scheduled pit stop on lap 22, swapping his Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tires for a new set of Red supersofts. This dropped Magnussen to 19th, but he resumed his attack, rising to 13th by lap 32 and holding the spot through the checkered flag.

Grosjean followed the same pit strategy as Magnussen, stopping for service on lap 32 where his ultrasofts were changed for supersofts. After rising to as high as ninth as drivers ahead of him pitted, Grosjean returned to the race in 11th, maintaining this position for the remainder of the race.

Haas F1 Team ends its sophomore season with a respectable eighth-place finish in the constructors standings, outpacing McLaren (ninth) and Sauber (10th). The 47 points Haas F1 Team earned in 2017 are 18 more than the total earned in its debut season in 2016. Grosjean wraps the year 13th in the championship standings with 28 points and Magnussen finishes 14th with 15 points.

Winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the pole was Valtteri Bottas. It was the Mercedes driver’s third career Formula One win, all of which have come this season. Bottas’ margin of victory was 3.899 seconds over runner-up and teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Despite Abu Dhabi serving as the season finale, championships were clinched in October. Hamilton took the driver’s title three races ago in the Mexican Grand Prix and Mercedes clinched the constructors title four races ago in the United States Grand Prix.

The last race of 2017 marked the final Formula One contest for Felipe Massa, one of the sport’s biggest stars. Massa ends his 15-year Formula One career with 269 starts, which includes 11 wins, 41 podiums, 16 poles and 937 laps led. He drove his Williams to a 10th-place finish in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

With the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship officially complete, teams turn their full attention to 2018. While the season-opening Australian Grand Prix won’t take place until March 25, plenty of work will happen between now and then, with preseason testing Feb. 26-March 1 and March 6-9 at Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya providing the first glimpse of where teams stand prior to the 69th Formula One season.

Sauber F1 Team:

The Sauber F1 Team finished the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix twilight race in P14 (Pascal Wehrlein) and P17 (Marcus Ericsson). With the 2017 season having come to an end, Wehrlein holds 18thand Ericsson 20th place in the FIA Drivers’ Championship. The Sauber F1 Team finished in 10thplace in the Constructors’ Championship.

Marcus Ericsson (car number 9):
Sauber C36-Ferrari (Chassis 03/Ferrari)
Result: 17th. Start on supersoft tyres, after 30 laps change to ultrasoft tyres
“It was a difficult race. I had a good start, but on the first corner I ran wide and lost some time there. I was then struggling on the first stint; I couldn’t really keep the pace. After the pit stop the balance of the car felt better so I was able to push again. In the second half of the race I could close the gap to the cars in front of me, but generally it is difficult to overtake on this track.”

Pascal Wehrlein (car number 94):
Sauber C36-Ferrari (Chassis 04/Ferrari)
Result: 14th. Start on supersoft tyres, after 28 laps change to ultrasoft tyres
“I had fun in the race today. My start was ok and I was able to maintain a steady performance and gradually advance to the midfield. I had a nice, lengthy battle with Kevin (Magnussen) ahead of me – unfortunately, I could not quite get him on the straights. It was good to have an action loaded season finale, though.”

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal:
“It was a decent race today – Pascal advanced well and was competing with Kevin (Magnussen) ahead. He did a good job in overtaking, but then he lost him on the straights. Marcus’ race was ok, but he seemed to be struggling with the balance of the car. Overall, we can see that we have made some improvements in the last few races. We are now focusing on 2018 and building on the progress we have made.”

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