It was a bittersweet day. The final grand prix of the 2017 season and the final race presented by NBC Sports team of Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs and Steve Matchett. While Abu Dhabi isn’t my favorite circuit on the Formula 1 calendar, the team of Hobbs, Diffey and Matchett are amongst my favorite F1 broadcasters. They’ve been together in one form of another since the SPEED days and then with NBC but that all came to an end on Sunday in Abu Dhabi.
Valtteri Bottas started the race on pole for the second time in a row and the fourth time this year. If he won the race with Sebastian Vettel in 9th or lower, the Finn would take second in the Drivers’ Championship. He had to keep his teammate, Lewis Hamilton, behind him as well.
The battle for 6th in the Constructors’ Championship was also at play with Toro Rosso clinging to the position but Renault better poised to steal it and Haas F1 hoping for a miracle to snag it.
In the end, Bottas kept his foot in it and gave Mercedes the result they wanted. The upgrades in Brazil and knock-on effect meant the cars were comprehensively dominant over all other in Aby Dhabi and while Lewis Hamilton took a few looks at the win, it was Bottas that secured the position. It was the 8th time Bottas beat Lewis in 2017.
After losing the lead at turn 1 in Brazil, Bottas worked hard to make sure that didn’t happen again in Abu Dhabi and his good start was rewarded with retention of the lead of the race. Valtteri was taking some flak regarding his mid-season slump and missing the win in Brazil but he came back and managed a great race taking advantage of his pace in the twisty bits and keeping a 4-time champ behind him for the win.
A win for Nico Hulkenberg who garnered a fail with a 5s penalty but through some terrific pace and racing, he managed to recover the 5s and get his Renault up in the points to overhaul Toro Rosso for 6th in the Constructors’ Championship.
A win for Felipe Massa for putting an exclamation mark on a terrific career as a Formula 1 driver. His last grand prix ended very similar to his first—Felipe fighting hard for points. Not quite sure if F1 told Massa to pull up on start grid or not but that was a bit odd.
A fail for Nico Hulkenberg who garnered a 5s penalty for leaving the track and gaining a lasting advantage. Nico had achieved 7th place and that’s exactly what the team needed to take 6th place in the championship but his penalty was exactly what the team didn’t need. A slow pit stop from the right wheel changer meant that the 5s penalty was compounded by a sloppy pit stop. As much as that was a bummer, he did a terrific job to recover.
A fail for Red Bull and Daniel Ricciardo for a DNF due to a hydraulic issue. It spoiled what otherwise was a fighting chance for a podium finish.
A bit of a fail for Ferrari who couldn’t muster enough pace to give either Mercedes a run for their money. Vettel and Raikkonen drove lonely races and never mounted an assault for a race win.
A fail for Toro Rosso who couldn’t mount a decent defense of their 6th place in the championship and lost $6.5 million in prize money to Renault.
Not sure what happened to Kevin Magnussen on the first lap but spinning and falling to the back of the grid wasn’t what Haas F1 needed if they had any chance of snagging 7th in the championship.
I’m not quite sure what was hampering Max Verstappen’s pace for most of the weekend but there was something not quite right. Max never gets in a car to be an also-ran so not being able to beat Ricciardo in qualifying and running behind the two Ferrari’s for most of the race isn’t the normal Max we’ve grown to appreciate.
I share Lewis’s comments in the cool-down room when he said they need to change this track, it’s very difficult to overtake here and it always amazed me that with a blank slate, they chose no elevation changes and created a circuit that is very difficult to pass at.
Why does the new F1 logo look like a 1980’s ESPN logo and who designed it? As logos go, this looks like a bit of a throwback to be honest, it’s not in keeping with current logo design trends, that’s for sure.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix result
|5||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||55||46.269s|
|7||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||55||1m32.062s|
|8||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||55||1m38.911s|
|9||Fernando Alonso||McLaren/Honda||54||1 Lap|
|10||Felipe Massa||Williams/Mercedes||54||1 Lap|
|11||Romain Grosjean||Haas/Ferrari||54||1 Lap|
|12||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren/Honda||54||1 Lap|
|13||Kevin Magnussen||Haas/Ferrari||54||1 Lap|
|14||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber/Ferrari||54||1 Lap|
|15||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Renault||54||1 Lap|
|16||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Renault||54||1 Lap|
|17||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber/Ferrari||54||1 Lap|
|18||Lance Stroll||Williams/Mercedes||54||1 Lap|
|–||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||20||Hydraulics|