Clip The Apex
So it’s Formula One’s tribute act to New Years’ Eve: an interminable and unexciting pre-amble to ten minutes of fireworks then the vain hope that next year will be better.
Ok, so that’s the least optimistic take ever, but Abu Dhabi has only really produced one race that is memorable for being a great race - 2012 - and we all recall the radio calls of the winner more than the action.
Brazil suggests that Hamilton’s Mercedes (with the 2018 engine) is the best around, but they’ve not shown much pace at night this year even if circumstances conspired to deliver victory in Singapore. There’s usually a multi-chassis race in the top six, somewhere.
It’s the end of an error, erm... era, at Woking as McLaren bail from the Honda project. Toro Rosso are currently showing them how easy Renault can be to work with.
Most will expect the pink Force Indias to be followed home by yellow, orange and white machinery with the Heartgas partnership at Toro Rosso around too.
Sauber will probably bring up the rear. Nice to mention them?
A season that promised a title race for the ages has delivered a remarkably damp squib. All we can say, Formula One, is see you in 2018.
So both the drivers and constructors championships are over. Mercedes are constructors champions (again) and Lewis Hamilton has recovered the title stolen from him by Nico Rosberg last year. Now it's time to go to (often not so) sunny Brazil and the race between the lakes.
Do you remember last year? It rained and the race stopped and started as as showers turned in to storms and back again. It went on for over 3 hours, 3 hours and 1 minute to be exact. Lewis won but Max Verstappen won a whole host of new fans as he pitched his Red Bull about in the rain in a fashion rarely seen in modern Formula 1. In reality the driver of the day last year was Lewis, his control and poise in the race were sublime and this race, of itself, probably deserved a title of its own. But Nico tippytoed around behind Lewis, stealing second and doing his best Nelson Piquet impression as he did "just enough" to keep his title bid on track.
So what can we expect this year? The last couple of races have been a bit confusing as Red Bull have somehow managed to find enough pace to get ahead of Ferrari and look like being able to challenge Mercedes. Was it just the circuits or have Red Bull, with their "Tag Heuer" engines, found some more power to go with their usual exceptional chassis. Don't expect too much from qualie as Merc will turn their engine up to 12, or 13, or whatever number they are able to push it past 10, and Lewis will add to his record number of poles. But come the race, assuming the front three don't nerf one another off at the first corner, we could be in for a battle at the front.
Poor Danny Ric has caught whatever bug affected Max earlier in the season. Fingers crossed he will be able to put in a full shift in Brazil and show what he is capable of against the Dutch upstart across the garage. Don't expect too much from Vettel and Hamilton's respective team mates. Their feeble spirit has been broken and they both know their place in the team. The only chance I think of Bottas taking a win is Lewis sympathetically moving across at the last corner to let Valtteri through.
Elsewhere, Force India will be the best of the rest and the rest will be pretty crap by comparison with the top three teams. Perhaps this is a little harsh on Renault who, now they have a proper driver, look to be able to be up in the top 10 by right. One other thought, will we see tears in the pit lane again from Felipe Massa as this could be his last race in his home country, again.
Finally - Pop quiz - Who was the last driver to be lapped at the race he won the Drivers World Championship?