Grand Prix 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

BradMan was down to do this thread, as he seems to not be around :( I stepped in on his behalf.

Here we are then, the last race of the season and what a season it's been. Ferrari showed so much promise in testing but then it all faded away as we started to race. All bark and no bite as you might say, Mercedes on the other hand took the championship by the scruff of the neck and certainly got everything out of it that they could. They had a 1-2 finish in the first five races of the season and Hamilton continued his winning streak even after that. It was only Vettel splitting them in Monaco that ended the top two place domination by them on the podium up to then. The Ferrari drivers and Verstappen for Red Bull could only manage the odd trip to the podium or the places just off it. It took until Austria for Hamilton not to be on the podium, even if Bottas had been shoved off a little sooner in Canada before returning again the next race.

I don't know about the rest of you but I was finding it all a bit boring and predictable then. Germany was a bad race for Mercedes (by their terms anyway) with Hamilton back in 9th and Bottas retiring. At the next race Hamilton took the win in Hungary though even if Bottas couldn't quite get back to the form he'd had before.

After the summer break it seemed like things had changed. Mercedes still had a very good car but Ferrari had somehow upped their game and so too had Red Bull, at least Verstappen had anyway. By this point Pierre Gasly had been told 'you've had your chance but it's back to Toro Rosso for you my son' and Alex Albon got the nod instead. Mercedes had still been rarely off the podium and of course Lewis Hamilton cruised to his sixth world chamionship in some style, but thankfully for us the other teams have made more of a fight of it, even if at times it felt like it was just the Ferrari boys fighting one another.

Abu Dhabi being the season finale feels somewhat lacklustre due to the championship having been sorted out a few weeks ago, however some of the other teams have a point to prove and places to gain or lose up and down the table. For them it's a vital race to push as hard as they can. After this race we will say 'auf wiedersehen' to Nico Hulkenberg as he exits stage left. He never fulfilled the potential he appeared to show in F1 which is a real shame, however he is of course a previous winner of Le Mans 24 hr. We also say goodbye to Robert Kubica, his comeback to F1 was a brave attempt to recreate his winning run from before his tragic accident, sadly, that wasn't to be and he ended up a shadow of his former self. You have to say, at least he tried.

This coming race could well be wet (kidding). We know it's going to be dry and it's not the most thrilling track of the season. So don't expect too much of it, just let out a sigh of relief that the season is done and start counting down to F1 2020, if you can be bothered to do so. At least with this race if you get bored of the action on the track you can look at the pretty lights on the hotel ;)

In 2018 your pole sitter was Hamilton and the podium was 1st Hamilton, 2nd Vettel, 3rd Verstappen

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Podium Finisher
Interesting race, and in some respects the first race of 2020. A few observations:

1. Race long McLaren-Renault duel. Suspect this will continue all next season. Lando ended up ahead of Sainz, Ricciardo ended up ahead of Hulkenberg. Hulkenberg leaves F1. Is that Sainz's future? Perez ended up ahead of all four of them and still gets no respect.

2. Leclerc ahead of an underperforming Vettel. I really hope to see a different Vettel at the start of next season. If not, 2020 will be his last season with Ferrari.

3. Another extremely competent Hamilton drive (when did he change from being a brash kid to a thoughtful driver?). Another "not quite good enough" drive from Bottas. You just kind of knew that no matter what, he was not going to grab 3rd.

4. Is Hamilton vs Verstappen going to be the duel of 2020? Or.....will we see a four-way contest between Hamilton, Verstappen, Leclerc and Vettel? I hope for the latter. Would love to see a McLaren or Renault stick their nose into it every now and then.

5. Gasly continues to show that he is fast but inconsistent. Albon continues to show he is consistent. I am not convinced he is as fast. Kvyat appears to be back in decline. I think he needed the right positive environment to succeed. I do not think that exists for any driver at Red Bull unless their name begins with a V.

6. Was the racing better with or without DRS?
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