Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Race


It’s the final race of the season; a bit of a crazy season thanks to COVID, with a late start (4 months later than planned), some circuits dropped, some added, some triple-headers, and some drivers testing positive.

HAM claimed his 7th World Championship, and now Silverstone have renamed the International Pit Straight as the Hamilton Straight; it’s the first time any part of the track has been named after an individual. [BBC] [FIA]

Qualifying almost followed the regular pattern but VER stole the pole
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 (P19 and P20 respectively)

Alonso did some laps in his Renault R25 from 2005 – the sound of the V10 engine makes some people nostalgic but I like being able to hear other car noises, e.g. when they lock up under braking.

Green lights – cars can now head out to the dummy grid
Someone’s spotted that the belt on HAM’s race suit, which usually says “44 HAMILTON” has a 7 in place of the T 🙂
Red Bull had the engine covers off both VER and ALB’s cars but it might just have been a quick check
Looks like most of the second half of the grid will start on medium compound tyres, except RIC, VET, PER and MAG

VER leads everyone away on the formation lap
Many radio messages with teams saying thanks and goodbye to drivers who are moving on

Grid: VER, BOT, HAM, NOR, ALB, SAI, KVY, STR, GAS, OCO, RIC, LEC, VET, GIO, RAI, RUS, FIT, LAT, PER, MAG

01/55: Clean start
VET ahead of teammate LEC
RIC inside VET at the hairpin

02: VER, BOT, HAM, NOR, ALB, SAI, KVY, STR, OCO, GAS, RIC, VET, LEC, RAI, GIO, RUS, MAG, FIT, LAT, PER
GAS using all the track and more, but takes P9 from OCO
OCO reclaims P9
GAS passes OCO again

03: DRS enabled
VER fastest lap 1:42.29 – 2secs clear of BOT
PER takes P18 from FIT

04: ALB closing on NOR
Radio from ALB, “There’s no way NOR is doing a 1-stop – he’s over-driving”

05/55: VER, BOT, HAM, NOR, ALB, SAI, KVY, STR, GAS, OCO, RIC, VET, LEC, RAI, GIO, RUS, PER, MAG, FIT, LAT
PER takes P16 from RUS

06: ALB passes NOR for P4
NOR gets DRS to fight back but the Red Bull keeps P4
OCO lets teammate RIC past for P10

07: VET closing on OCO

08: Radio for NOR, “Maximum pace on plan A”
STR dives past KVY to take P7
PER takes 14 from RAI
KVY fights back but STR holds on

10/55: VER, BOT, HAM, ALB, NOR, SAI, STR, GAS, KVY, RIC
PER parks his Racing Point – looks like his dash says oil pressure fail
VSC deployed

11[VSC]: VER and BOT pit, followed by HAM and ALB then NOR, SAI, STR, GAS
RIC, VET and LEC stay out
Radio from HAM, “That didn’t feel like a good strategy”
Safety Car deployed
Looks like the marshals can move PER’s car

12[SC]: VER behind the SC but then a big gap to BOT, but they’ll close up under SC

13[SC]: SC in at the end of this lap
Order for the restart: VER, BOT, HAM, ALB, RIC, NOR, VET, LEC, SAI, STR, GAS, GIO, OCO, KVY, MAG, RAI, RUS, LAT, FIT; out: PER

14: SAI inside LEC to take P8
Looks like most are running on hard tyres, except LEC and GIO

15/55: VER, BOT, HAM, ALB, RIC, NOR, VET, SAI, LEC, STR
OCO takes P12 from GIO

16: STR gets past LEC for P9
LEC fights back using DRS, reclaims P9
SAI under investigation for “driving unnecessarily slowly in the pit lane” when McLaren were double-stacking

17: SAI attacking VET
SAI has DRS for a second attack, takes P7 this time

19: VER over 3sec clear of BOT, who in turn has HAM almost 2sec behind
STR has another go at passing LEC – takes P9

20/55: VER, BOT, HAM, ALB, RIC, NOR, SAI, VET, STR, LEC, GAS, OCO, KVY, RAI, GIO, RUS, MAG, LAT, FIT
GAS inside LEC for P10

22: OCO tucked up behind LEC
OCO inside LEC and takes P11

23: LEC pits; rejoins P19

25/55: VER, BOT, HAM, ALB, RIC, NOR, SAI, VET, STR, GAS, OCO, KVY, RAI, RUS, GIO, MAG, LAT, FIT, LEC; out: PER

26: STR locks up into Turn 11, runs wide
Radio from HAM, “I don’t think these tyres are going all the way to the end”

27: SAI’s pit lane incident will be investigated after the race

Half distance

28: LEC closing up on LAT and easily past for P17

30/55: VER, BOT, HAM, ALB, RIC, NOR, SAI, VET
GAS inside STR; takes P9

32: GAS uses DRS to pass VET for P8
LEC has had a lap time deleted for the 3rd time – next time it’ll be a black and white flag

33: VET has STR closing on him

35/55: VER, BOT, HAM, ALB, RIC, NOR, SAI, GAS, VET, STR, OCO, KVY, RAI, RUS, LEC, LAT, GIO, FIT, MAG
LEC inside RUS under braking for P14

36: MAG takes P18 from FIT
Radio from HAM, “I have a flat spot”
VET pits; mediums go on; rejoins P15

40/55: VER, BOT, HAM, ALB, RIC, NOR, SAI, GAS, STR, OCO
RIC pits – first stop; rejoins P7

41: VET closing on RUS
LEC catching RAI

42: VET takes P14 from the Williams

44: Radio from VER, sounds concerned by vibrations

45/55: VER, BOT, HAM, ALB, NOR, SAI, RIC, GAS, STR, OCO, KVY, RAI, LEC, VET, RUS, GIO, LAT, MAG, FIT; out: PER
VER leads by 9.5sec; BOT 3sec ahead of HAM
GIO (P16) has been lapped – that means it won’t be long before RUS is lapped by VER, BOT and then HAM

47: Black and white flag for LEC for exceeding track limits

48: Radio from VER, “You can turn the engine down now if you want to” – ouch!

49: MAG pits from P18; he’s not going for fastest lap, is he?

50/55: VER, BOT, HAM, ALB, NOR, SAI, RIC, GAS, STR, OCO, KVY, RAI, LEC, VET, RUS, GIO, LAT, FIT, MAG
GIO on the tail of RUS

53: Looks like the last race will just fizzle out, which is a shame after some exciting races recently

54: Radio for ALB encouraging him to attack HAM but there’s less than 2 laps left
They’ve lapped VET (P14); VER has lapped LEC too

55 = final lap: ALB 1.8sec behind HAM but it’s too late
OCO all over STR’s gearbox

VER takes the chequered flag
Then BOT, HAM, ALB, NOR, SAI
RIC (P7) takes fastest lap – 1:40.926
GAS=P8
OCO ahead of STR

Provisional result: VER, BOT, HAM, ALB, NOR, SAI**, RIC*, GAS, OCO, STR; KVY, RAI, LEC, VET, RUS, GIO, LAT, MAG, FIT; DNF: PER
*RIC f/lap
**SAI under investigation for “driving unnecessarily slowly in the pit lane” when McLaren were double-stacking

Assuming that investigation doesn’t change the result, McLaren are 3rd in the Constructors’ Championship

Interviews:
VER: “It was really enjoyable yesterday and today had a good start and from there I could look after the tyres but the car had a really good balance. It was really enjoyable out there today. We did everything alright. I saw they [Mercedes] were dropping off behind so I could take it a bit easier overall. It was a very strong race for the team. I enjoyed that I won. I will enjoy the podium and then will enjoy going home.”
BOT: “Red Bull were too quick today, surprisingly quick. We thought race pace would be pretty identical but they could really control the race and build a gap when needed. I was trying everything I could but couldn’t keep up with them. I felt like it was a solid race on my part. No mistakes – I couldn’t get anything more out of the package today. In that sense it was a good race. I was ahead of my team-mate. It’s been a while since I’ve been on the podium so it’s going to be nice, even though there’s not going to be champagne there.”
HAM: “You can’t win them all. Considering the past couple weeks I have had I am really genuinely happy with the weekend. It is not as good as we would like but congrats to Max. It was a really hard race for me physically. All year physically I have been fine but today I definitely wasn’t. I am just glad it is over.”
ALB: “The car been very good all weekend. If it was a couple more laps I could have got past. I struggled a bit at the start on the hard tyre. It was a good weekend for me.”
Christian Horner: “Alex has done very good job today. It has probably been his strongest collective weekend this season. It gives us a complete set of info to go away and analyse it and work out what we are going to do [re: their 2nd driver for 2021]”
PER: “It is sad to be leaving the team this way. Some of them were crying at the end. You have to remember the whole season. Well done to McLaren they really deserved that. I am leaving very happy. That team will always be my favourite team in Formula1. I look forward to seeing them winning more races. Who knows what will happen next. I am just looking forward to go going back home. Whatever comes next I will be ready for it.”
HAM: “Covid is no joke. I never thought it was. I knew it would be tough because people out there are losing their lives. I always find very strange to see world leaders laughing it off like it is nothing. To come back here this weekend I knew I wouldn’t physically be where I was all season but I made it. I am destroyed. I do not feel good. I am happy and grateful I am alive and live to fight another day.”
VET: “Nothing about today should get mentioned. It was quite a bad race for us. We tried everything. For sure it was emotional day with the mechanics waving goodbye on the grid. I felt there was a different dynamic. I am sad for the guys. I will miss them but happy to embark on a new journey.”

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