After a tight season, with unprecedentedly fast times and high strung rivalries, the final race of the Formula 1 season has yielded a world champion: the 32-year old British driver for Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton. Despite Hamilton’s win for the season he yielded the Grand Prix win to his teammate at Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas, with a defensive blocking strategy aimed at the Ferrari drivers.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was held at the Yas Marina Circuit, a 5.5 kilometer track of innovative quirks which end the season in style. With tight chicanes, sliding hairpins, and small apexes, Abu Dhabi is a cosmopolitan-Frankenstein of a track. With sections of long straight, followed by quick turns, drivers can reach about 340 kph on the early straights of the track and slow down to around 265 kph on the first sequence of turns. Turns two and three are classic wide turns and high speed positions for drivers, but as the cars progress counterclockwise around Yas Marina Island, the course evolves into what can only be described as Monte Carlo-styled. Contrasted by the wide overtake space and zones for DRS, this section of the course features slower speeds, smaller apexes, and tight chicanes. Higher downforce marks the end of the course, which places drivers rushing under a luxury hotel, around a right turn and out onto the final straightaway to finish the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and the 2017 Formula 1 Season.
Entering the race, the standings left little room for competition. Lewis Hamilton, the British phenom driving for Mercedes, had a 43 point lead over the Ferrari driver and German-trickster, Sebastian Vettel. Placing at third is Nico Rosberg’s replacement on the Mercedes crew, the Finnish Valtteri Bottas. After Rosberg’s retirement from Formula 1 following his World Championship victory last year, the competition for Hamilton has been inconsistent. Foes in the shape of Ricciardo, Raikkonen, and Verstappen have materialized race by race, but there have been no season long rivalries. The dominant teams of the season were, predictably, Mercedes, Red Bull, and Ferrari. Mercedes had a strong lead throughout, and they were the ultimate constructor victors. This fact is supported by the fantastic one-two finish of the Mercedes drivers and their ability to perfectly time their pit stops to maintain a defensive position. Final season standings leave Hamilton in first, Vettel in second, and Bottas in third.
After the exciting season, and the crowning of Lewis Hamilton (with 363 points) as World Champion, the F1 world will take some downtime until March, when the next season begins with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. The season will likely see a more dominant Ferrari, as the constructor continues their campaign to get Enzo’s team back on top. Vettel and Raikkonen will eclipse Red Bull and become true competition for the perennial winners, Mercedes. The ECHO speculates that Vettel will provide true competition for Mercedes and Hamilton and will overtake, not only with his brazen press conferences.