2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Blog
We enjoyed a fantastic weekend in Abu Dhabi this year. Yas Island always has an ‘end of term’ feel about it and it was great to catch up with so many of our F1 friends over the weekend.
The Grand Prix itself wasn’t a classic but it did gather excitement towards the end of the race, especially the battle between the middle order teams. We caught up with Renault, Toro Rosso and Racing Point at the start of the weekend and the tension was palpable. Those last few points matter, and there were millions of dollars at stake!
One person who didn’t seem to be feeling any pressure was Lewis Hamilton. He looked relaxed and very much back to his best. To tell you the truth, the Mercedes looked unstoppable around Yas Marina circuit. In Qualifying you could sense Red Bull were scrambling but not quite managing to keep up. Whilst Ferrari were even further off the pace. Amazing really that this was Lewis’ first pole for 10 grands prix, such was the ease he despatched with his rivals.
Come Sunday and it was business as usual for the six-times world champion. Hamilton controlled the race from the start and was never threatened for the lead. Boring some might say but sometimes you just have to admire. It wasn’t that the other teams have suddenly got much worse, Lewis was just very, very good! 2019 was Hamilton’s year and he paid tribute to his team afterwards saying: “I’m proud but just super-grateful for this incredible team and all at Mercedes who have continued to push this year. Even though we had the championship won we wanted to keep our head down and see if we could extract more from this beautiful car.”
The battle for second and third place was decided by race tactics. Ferrari’s decision to pit Charles Leclerc on lap 12 for a two-stop race in hindsight was unwise. The Red Bull of Max Verstappen stayed out for 13 laps longer and with just one stop he was able to ease home in second place.
Leclerc took third, but nearly lost it when an FIA a fuel check had revealed a “significant difference” between the declaration from the team and the amount of fuel inside the car. This alleged ‘breach’ was referred to the stewards, with the ‘difference’ later revealed to be 4.88kg of fuel. When asked about the incident in a post-race interview Christian Horner said: “I can’t see how [Leclerc] won’t be [disqualified]”. We thought the same, but in the end the stewards handed a €50,000 fine to Ferrari, but Leclerc kept his spot on the podium.
The hard luck story of the race was Piere Gasly, who found himself in last place following a first corner shunt from Racing Point’s Lance Stroll. The impact left him needing a new front wing and nose cone. Once back to the pits it took the Toro Rosso team an age to repair the car and their chances in the race were effectively over. Speaking afterwards, Gasly said: “I’m just disgusted with what happened, because we clearly had the potential to keep sixth place and that’s it… It’s annoying when this kind of thing happens… With him [Stroll] behind, there’s a 50-50 chance that things will go wrong.”
In the end it was McLaren’s Carlos Sainz who pipped Gasly to sixth place in the Drivers’ Championship. The Spaniard snuck into P10 on the final lap of the race to give him a vital point, and allowing him to overhaul Gasly in the standings. It looks like McLaren have turned a corner and the team have enjoyed their most successful season for years. Very well done to everyone involved.
McLaren have a lot to look forward to in 2020, and so do we with a record breaking 22-race calendar. We don’t have long to wait, and F1 Testing starts in just 11 weeks’ time! But before all that we’d like to wish everyone a wonderful festive period with friends and family.
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