Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi – Race


There don’t seem to be any post-Qualifying penalties, so there’s just the (huge) one for BOT’s multiple engine changes to be applied which drops him from P2 to P20
Grid: HAM, VER, LEC, VET, ALB, NOR, RIC, SAI, HUL, PER, GAS, STR, KVY, MAG, GRO, GIO, RAI, RUS, KUB, BOT

I mentioned in my Quali notes that there were just 2 driver changes (Esteban Ocon will replace HUL at Renault, and Nicholas Latifi replaces KUB at Williams) but this is also the last race for Toro Rosso as they’ll be renamed Alpha Tauri for next season.

This race will also mark RAI’s 312th race start, just 10 behind Rubens Barrichello’s record.

The pit lane is open; drivers can do partial practice laps (the have to come through the pits because the teams are setting up on the grid)

FIA technical delegate reports that they’ve detected a discrepancy in LEC’s fuel; it will be investigated after the race: “There was a significant difference between the declaration of the team and the amount of fuel inside the car”.

Tweet from Haas points out “Today is the first time Formula 1 has raced in December since 1963”
They also posted a funny GIF of GRO signing MAG’s race suit 🙂

The sun is setting and the track floodlights are on
Air temperature 28°C; track 33°C; humidity 55%; wind 5kph

We knew the starting tyre compounds for the top 10 after Q2 yesterday: HAM, VER, LEC and ALB of mediums, the rest on softs
Further down the field, all mediums except GIO on soft and KVY, RUS & KUB on hard tyres

HAM leads everyone around on the formation lap
Crawling along the main straight so he won’t have to wait too long for the back of the pack to take their grid spots

01/55: First few are cleanly through Turn 1; contact further back
LEC blasts past VER for P2
VET attacking VER now

02: HAM, LEC, VER, VET, ALB, NOR, SAI, RIC, MAG, HUL
BOT already up to P15
GAS pits for a new nose – slow stop
Incident involving GAS, PER and STR noted

03: HAM fastest lap 1:??
No investigation necessary for the GAS/PER/STR incident

04: DRS currently disabled due to a technical issue
HAM f/lap 1:42.503

05/55: HAM, LEC, VER, VET, ALB, NOR, SAI, RIC, HUL, MAG, PER, GIO, STR, BOT, RAI, KVY, GRO, KUB, RUS, GAS
BOT takes P13 from STR

06: RAI passes STR too
STR pits
Radio from VER, “The engine is at really low RPM – what is this?”; “Stand by”

07: BOT closing on MAG, dives inside for P11

08: VER’s been told to change the engine mode to try to clear his RPM issue

09: HAM has almost 5sec lead over LEC, who in turn is just under 2sec ahead of VER
NOR pits; softs replaced by hard tyres; rejoins P17
Radio from LEC complaining of rear vibration

10/55: HAM, LEC, VER, VET, ALB, SAI, RIC, HUL, PER, BOT, MAG, RAI, KVY, GRO, KUB, NOR, RUS, GIO, STR, GAS
Still no DRS

12: RIC pits from P7; hard tyres go on; rejoins P15

13: LEC pits, followed by teammate VET; both on hards; VET’s front left took ages to go on; they’re now P3 and P7

14: ALB pits; hards; rejoins P7
Radio from VER “Tyres are still ok for me”

15/55: HAM, VER, LEC, HUL, BOT, VET, ALB, PER, MAG, RAI, KVY, GRO, NOR, RIC, SAI, KUB, RUS, GIO, STR, GAS
HAM’s lead is over 10sec
LEC f/lap 1:41.938

17: VET attacks BOT but the Mercedes keeps P5

18: DRS enabled, finally
HUL has been holding up BOT, VET and ALB but DRS will change that

19: BOT takes P4 from HUL
HUL pits; mediums go on; rejoins P13

20/55: HAM, VER, LEC, BOT, VET, ALB, PER, MAG, RAI, KVY, NOR, SAI, HUL, RIC, KUB, GIO, RUS, STR, GRO, GAS
HUL passes SAI to split the McLarens

21: MAG pits; rejoins P14
Radio for VET, “Engine 4, engine 4”; VET barks “Why?”; “Because we need it, MK-1 available”

22: KVY takes P8 from RAI

23: GIO attacking KUB; contact; large piece of GIO’s barge board comes off

24: Incident involving GIO and KUB noted

25/55: HAM, VER, LEC, BOT, VET, ALB, PER, KVY, NOR, HUL
GIO attacking KUB again; makes it stick this time, takes P15

26: VER pits; hard tyres go on; rejoins P3
Radio for HAM “box, box”
Incident involving GIO and KUB under investigation

27: HAM pits; hard go on; not the most rapid stop but he has a comfortable lead; rejoins still P1
Radio from VER, sounding concerned “something is not correct”; given new engine settings

Half distance

28: Incident involving GIO and KUB – no further action
Radio from VER asking why he’s now got a problem; told to calm down

30/55: BOT pits; Toto Wolff is standing at the edge of the box, watching his team; hard tyres go on; rejoins P6

31: Despite all his complaints, VER is closing on LEC

32: BOT f/lap 1:39.715
VER dives inside LEC and steals P2
LEC fights back but the Red Bull stays ahead

33: Radio from VER still telling them he has a power problem; “There’s nothing we can do about it Max – you’re just going to have to live with it”

34: Radio from LEC asking for Plan C, as he falls back from VER

35/55: HAM, VER, LEC, VET, ALB, BOT, PER, KVY, NOR, HUL, SAI, RIC, MAG, RAI, GRO, GIO, STR, KUB, RUS, GAS

38: RAI closing on MAG, but HAM is about to lap them
PER pits

39: LEC pits; softs go on; rejoins still P3
VET pits too; softs go on; rejoins P6
BOT swoops past ALB for P4

40/55: HAM, VER, LEC, BOT, ALB, VET, KVY, NOR, HUL, SAI, RIC, PER, RAI, MAG, GRO, GIO, STR, RUS, KUB, GAS

42: SAI pits from P10; rejoins P14

44: RIC pits; softs go on
SAI passes MAG for P12

45/55: HAM, VER, LEC, BOT, ALB, VET, NOR, HUL, PER, KVY, RAI, SAI, MAG, RIC, GRO, GIO, STR, RUS, KUB, GAS
NOR (P7) lapped by HAM

46: PER makes a late dive inside HUL to steal P8

47: KVY making a forceful move inside HUL for P9

48: STR pits, retires the Racing Point
Radio for NOR, “There’s nothing to lose so let’s use this tyre”

49: Radio for NOR, “Give it everything!”
BOT’s been told he can use Strat-2, which is qualifying mode, so he can have a go at catching LEC

50/55: HAM, VER, LEC, BOT, ALB, VET, NOR, PER, KVY, HUL
PER closing on NOR

53: BOT just over 3sec behind LEC
Radio from VER complaining about PER battling NOR when VER is trying to lap them

54: HAM f/lap 1:39.283
VET attacking ALB; makes it stick for P5
PER still trying to find a way around NOR

55 = final lap: Radio from VET whining about ALB
SAI passes HUL for P10
PER has passed NOR for P7

HAM takes the chequered flag
VER P2
LEC P3, but he’s still under investigation for his fuel

Provisional result: HAM, VER, LEC*, BOT, VET, ALB, PER, NOR, KVY, SAI; RIC, HUL, RAI, MAG, GRO, GIO, RUS, GAS, KUB
DNF: STR
Fastest lap: HAM (1:39.283, lap 54)

Time for some doughnuts from HAM and VER on the main straight
HAM pats his car as he gets out
He’s the only one who parked on the start/finish for the interviews
So now it’s just the wait for the stewards’ investigation of LEC’s fuel – will he keep P3?

NOR is funny on the radio again, joking with his engineer; “Are you crying, I think I’m crying” 🙂
HUL had a funny exchange too: “And Nico just a word, thanks for very much it’s been a great three years.”; “Thank you, I wish I could say the same.”; “Hahaha perfect.”; “Just pulling your leg, thank you for everything.”

It’s a shame the season ends in Abu Dhabi because it’s always such a dull race
Next race will be Australia in March.