An exciting year of racing came to an end at the Yas Marina Track in Abu Dhabi last Sunday. Again, Lewis Hamilton was in a class of his own, taking both his 11th pole position and 11th win of the season. There were some very hard triers behind him, namely Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo but try as they might they could do no better than their 2nd, 3rd and 4th places. The start of the race was hectic with Nico Hulkenberg colliding with Romain Grosjean and ending upside down in the fence! Fortunately, he was unhurt. This delayed the race somewhat and Lewis Hamilton took advantage of a pitstop which took him on to the end of the race and victory. Kimi Raikkonen was another early retiree, going out on lap 7 with some form of mechanical trouble.
Poor Valteri Bottas has a somewhat dismal race, finishing only 5th in the sister to the winning car. When interviewed after the race he looked very down and said he was looking forward to a good rest after all the pressures of F1. Carlos Sainz drove a good steady race into 6th position in the sole remaining Works Renault Toaster and followed fairly close behind by Charles Leclerc, who had given us a really good display of top driving throughout qualifying and the race, finishing in 7th place in the Sauber Alfa Romeo. Remember next time around in Australia he will be partnering Vettel at Ferrari! Sergio Perez (Force India) followed by Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen (both Haas) took up 8th, 9thand 10th places.
I really do hope that the short winter break gives Honda enough time to become reliable and competitive. Only one of their cars, namely, Brendon Hartley, finished in 12th position and so much hangs on the Red Bull teams success with them. Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly, who are both tremendously talented drivers must be holding their breath!
We now have just over three months break before next year’s first race in Australia. There will be a lot of changes on the cars next year due to new technical rules, mainly on the chassis and aerodynamic front. I hope to give some report on testing in the new year before my preview at the start of the new race calendar year. I wish you all a very happy and safe festive season. Racing Rod.