THREE TAKEAWAYS: Abu Dhabi GP
After American racing ended, Formula One and its sister series’ were the only thing left to look forward to until the end of the year.
Apart from announcements over next year with the calendar and three seats still to be sorted, the period of waiting and trying to kick off the withdrawal symptoms until the sounds of engines and cars gets the blood pumping in the first few months of next year.
ABU DHABI DECIDER
The final F1 race of 2016 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was a bit like an end of semester day, just waiting for the inevitable to happen with Nico Rosberg walking away with the title.
This could be conceived because of his consistent driving; however, the circuit in question is yet to give an exciting championship decider.
This year’s contest was the third to happen at the circuit after Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton’s 2010 and 2014 victories to win the title, and it was the first time the title has been won by someone not winning the race in the country.
Question marks will remain whether it should be moved on the calendar in future years to bring a bit more entertainment to the final race in circuits such as Interlagos in Brazil.
Vettel used an interesting strategy that was unique to those around him, going from ultrasoft tires to softs then using supersofts for his final stint.
The Ferrari driver led laps during the middle part of the race and caught up to pass Max Verstappen and was incredibly close to a shock win, albeit because of the pace of the Mercedes cars in front.
After the race, he believed that this could be used as inspiration to develop their next car for the 2017 season.
“I hope it gives some momentum to all of us,” he said. “It has been a tough year, with lots of ups and downs, so I am really happy with the result. About our global performance in 2016, I think we don’t need to find any story or invent something.”
He agreed with the thoughts of many that Ferrari could have had better results in the first few races of the season had they capitalized on strategy and Mercedes start errors.
“I think we expected more; but after the first half, where we could have scored more points, I think we showed real strength by coming back. In the last couple of Grands Prix we had very good race pace, always enough to match Red Bull, and probably even a bit quicker: but that was not the case on Saturdays, and that made Sundays more difficult.
“Overall we showed the stamina the team has. The spirit is unbroken, and I know that we will work hard, because Ferrari deserves to come back.”
Ferrari could well improve in 2017, but Mercedes and Red Bull are expected to be top-two teams at the start of next year. The Italian team could be left in a zone not fast enough to challenge and not slow enough to lose third place in the Constructors’ Championship.
His podium finish means that he finishes ahead of Verstappen in fourth place in the championship. The German finishes with 212 points, eight more than his Dutch rival.
REACHING THE PEAK?
Force India completed a dream 2016 season with another double points finish in Abu Dhabi.
Nico Hulkenberg finished seventh, one place ahead of teammate Sergio Perez, for a third straight double points haul and fifth in the last six races.
The result leaves Perez with 101 points in the Drivers’ Championship, the first time a Force India driver has finished with over 100 points, with Hulkenberg on 72. This secured their fourth-place finish in the Constructors’ Championship.
It is a great achievement, but it is surely the highest they will ever get in the Constructors’ Championship. They don’t have the budget of other teams who can throw money at problems and move up the pecking order. They still have the talent of Perez to help them secure points, however, if he improves any further he will surely be moving on to another team in future.
In other notable championship finishes, Fernando Alonso confirmed a tenth place finish by finishing tenth in the race. Williams’ Felipe Massa did finish ahead of him in ninth on track but needed to finish eighth or higher to steal the position from the Spaniard.
Other championship positions remained the same after a mostly unsurprising race.
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