Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Qualifying

The end is nigh – Abu Dhabi is the last race of the season and there are midfield points (and therefore money) still up for grabs. Then again, it’s the “end of term” with some drivers about to switch teams (or leave F1) so there might be a bit more wheel-to-wheel racing.

News:

  • “Mercedes has installed a fix following the radio miscommunication during last weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix which saw George Russell fitted with his teammate’s tyres.” [pitpass]

    “You have to start by understanding that the radios that the pit crew use can only hear one voice at a time,” says Allison. “Although they are listening to more than one potential input source, they can only hear one input source at a time, not like a teleconference where you can have several people speaking at once. “Right at the point where Ron was calling to the pit crew to do the double stack, George was also speaking on the radio,” he continues. “For half of the people on George’s side of the garage, their radios, instead of hearing what Ron was saying the radio, had latched onto what George was saying instead. So, one tiny mistake, programming the radios in a way that they could override hearing this really important call from Ronnie Meadows on the pit wall is what caused all that mess. We are just lucky, of course, that this happened now, after a championship was settled, or maybe not in next season when everything was live and really counting in the middle of a championship fight,” he admits.

  • HAM has tested negative so he’s reclaimed his seat at Mercedes, which means RUS returns to Williams, and AIT is back on the bench.
  • “Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto will fly home to Italy rather than attending the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after becoming unwell with an illness that is not Covid-19 related.” [FIA]
  • “Ferrari has announced its CEO Louis Carey Camilleri has stepped down from the company and its board of directors “with immediate effect”. His retirement is due to “personal reasons”, Ferrari confirmed.” [racefans]
  • Reminder: LEC was given a 3-grid spot penalty for causing the collision with PER on lap 1 of last weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix [FIA]
  • “Sergio Perez looks likely to start this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the back of the grid after taking on new engine components.” “Kevin Magnussen is likely to join Perez at the back of the grid on Sunday, the Dane, facing his final race in F1 before heading to IMSA, taking on a new energy store and control electronics.” [pitpass]

Free Practice:

  1. FP1: VER (1:37.378), BOT, OCO, ALB, HAM, STR, PER, KVY, GAS, RAI
    HAM had to box early; potential brake problem
    RIC parks his Renault to the side of the track
    Radio from KVY reporting a problem
  2. FP2: BOT (1:36.276), HAM, VER, ALB, NOR, OCO, PER, LEC, RIC, STR
    Radio from GAS complaining that a Williams photographer is taking shots of the Alpha Tauri car
    Huge lock-up from FIT
    RUS has a problem – looks like his Williams’ engine has let go
    And almost immediately, RAI has flames coming from his Alfa Romeo; told to park it and get out ASAP
    RAI takes control of the fire extinguisher and deals with the fire [video]
    Red flag – session suspended
  3. FP3: VER (1:36.251), ALB, RIC, OCO, NOR, HAM, STR, SAI, BOT, PER
    Radio from ALB, “Are we sure we are okay because the understeer is insane?”

TSN’s Driver Tracker shows RUS in a Mercedes – whoops! 🙂

Qualifying session 1 (Q1)
Air temperature 23°C; track 29°C as the sun is setting
MAG 1:38.086
Radio from VER complaining he picked up a flat spot because he had to brake in the pit lane when a Williams came out ahead of him
LEC 1:36.894
VER 1:36.807
ALB 1:36.106
Incident involving LAT and VER will be investigated after the session
HAM 1:35.797 … but that time is deleted for exceeding track limits
BOT 1:35.699
(HAM P7)
5mins left of Q1; bottom 5 are MAG, FIT, RUS, LAT, GIO
LEC (P7) down are on track, except RIC
Yellow flag briefly – LAT spun, recovered
Chequered flag
RUS P16
GIO P15, RAI P16
RAI P16
MAG P17
FIT P19
HAM 1:35.528
Back of the grid: RAI, MAG*, RUS, FIT, LAT
*MAG has grid penalties to be applied for engine changes
Radio from RUS, “Sorry guys the tyres were nowhere. I really, really struggled.”

Qualifying session 2
HAM and BOT head out on medium tyres; just NOR, KVY, STR, GAS on softs so far
HAM 1:35.466
(BOT P2)
ALB has his P5 lap time deleted
RIC’s time deleted too
Radio from VER complaining that “the tyres completely dropped off at the end”, and then he’s called to the weighbridge
5mins left of Q2; bottom 5 are OCO, GIO; no time from ALB, RIC, PER
PER has engine penalties so he’ll start from the back, so he’s gone out to scrub some tyres but not set a time
Chequered flag; OCO, GIO, ALB, RIC, PER
OCO P9, VET P11
GIO P12
VET P11
RIC P11
GIO’s time deleted
ALB P4, OCO P11
Middle of the grid: OCO, RIC, VET, GIO, PER*
*PER has grid penalties to be applied for engine changes
Radio from VET, “I gave it everything I had”

Top 10 shootout between HAM, BOT, VER, ALB, NOR, LEC*, STR, SAI, KVY, GAS
*LEC has a 3-spot penalty to be applied

Qualifying session 3
KVY 1:36.451
NOR 1:35.988
STR P2
GAS P4
SAI 1:35.815
HAM 1:35.550
BOT 1:35.415
VER P2
LEC P8
ALB P4
Order after the first run: BOT, VER, HAM, ALB, SAI, NOR, STR, LEC, KVY, GAS
4mins left – time for a final run
GAS sweeps around the outside of HAM on their out lap
Radio from Toto for BOT, “All you have, Valteri”
KVY P6
GAS P9
HAM 1:35.332
Chequered flag
NOR P3
BOT 1:35.271
SAI P6
LEC P8
VER 1:35.246
STR P8
ALB P5
Front of the grid: VER, BOT, HAM, NOR, ALB, SAI, KVY, STR, LEC, GAS
Radio for VER, “First non-Mercedes pole of the year!”

Interviews:
VER: “I said before, it’s the final send of the season and we did that. Luckily everything came together in the final lap. The whole year when you are behind, getting closer, it can be very frustrating.”
BOT: “We saw in FP3 that Red Bull were quick, the main issue was we couldn’t get the soft tyres working. We made improvements, but we never got 100% out of the car. The balance was not quite perfect.”
HAM: “It’s been a difficult weekend I’d say, to get back in the rhythm. It felt like I’d lost the momentum, but congratulations to Max. Hopefully we can give them a run for their money tomorrow.”

Provisional grid: VER, BOT, HAM, NOR, ALB, SAI, KVY, STR, LEC*, GAS, OCO, RIC, VET, GIO, PER*, RAI, MAG*, RUS, FIT, LAT
*LEC will drop from P9 to P12; PER and MAG will be at the back of the grid for engine changes

[2020 calendar] [2020 line-up]