2016 Abu Dhabi Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: When Niki Lauda lost the 1976 world championship to James Hunt, someone asked him if Hunt's title was not deserved due to what happened to Lauda. Lauda was very pragmatic. He said that Hunt scored more points and therefore fully deserves the world championship. If someone who lost a championship because he nearly died and then chose to pull out of the final race due to horrendous conditions can say that, then perhaps we need to stop this silly talk on whether Nico Rosberg is a "proper" world champion. And Lewis Hamilton should stop whining.
EVENT: More fans are attending this event. But, they are still all tourists. No locals show up for this race.
TRACK: Imagine the drama of this race unfolding on a real race track with real possibilities to pass?
QUALIFYING: It was such a horrifying memory, it seems so long ago. But, at the start of this season, there was that harebrained qualifying format where Formula 1 shot themselves in the foot. Twice. With a double barrel shotgun. Let's not ever speak of that abomination again.
START: No drama up front, the wild card, Verstappen, spins himself around, Kimi gets aggressive on Ricciardo, and Magnussen has his race spoiled.
RACE: We had no problem with Hamilton's tactics. It's not like he crashed his competition out like the cheaters, Senna and Schumacher. It's not like he crowded him or forced him off the road. And it did leave the fans biting their nails.
MERCEDES: We don't get why Mercedes was trying to institute team orders in the first place. The win meant nothing in the constructors' standings, it had no effect on prize money nor the team's reputation if they didn't finish 1-2. As Hamilton said, let them race.
HAMILTON: Having said that, Lewis did disobey a direct team order. Even from executive technical director Paddy Lowe, the highest escalation point there is. Ultimately, Hamilton has to answer for his insubordination.
ROSBERG: People try to say that Nico didn't grab the title by the throat. Well, that pass on Verstappen was an extremely high risk move which he had to make. That pass ultimately prevented him from falling behind Verstappen and Vettel. That gutsy move ultimately won him the championship. That's grabbing the title by the throat.
VETTEL: Lost in all the commotion was a fantastic race by Sebastian.
FERRARI: They finally got their strategy right.
VERSTAPPEN: What a year it's been for Max. From the "junior" team to the main outfit, his first win, and causing all sorts of angst throughout the paddock with his defensive driving maneuvers.
RICCIARDO: Was Daniel screwed again by his team by pitting him too early versus Verstappen's strategy?
RED BULL: If they produce a car capable of winning a championship, good luck handling their intra team battle. It will make the Mercedes issues seem like child's play.
HULKENBERG: A fine farewell race for Nico with Force India.
PEREZ: While Sergio will now have to see how he stacks up against Esteban Ocon.
FORCE INDIA: An amazing job to finish fourth. Even more so when considering their modest budget and owners who have been in legal troubles.
ALONSO: According to Fernando, next year is the year of reckoning for his future participation in F1.
HAAS: It was revealed they started working on their 2017 car as soon as this season started. This explains why Haas started with a bang but ended with a whimper.
WILLIAMS: Next to Ferrari, the most disappointing team of 2017.
KVYAT: What's the over/under on the number of races on whether Daniil will actually finish out the 2017 season?
MANOR: That was an interesting way for their drivers to end the season...
BUTTON: Thank you, Jenson.
MASSA: Obrigado, Felipe.
DENNIS: Ron finally pissed off one too many people. And apparently, that one too many was his best friend of 30 years...
BROWN: An American takes over McLaren. An American company is buying F1. An American COO runs Force India. And of course, Haas F1 is on the grid. More and more, there is an American influence in a predominately European sport.
MALAYSIA: So, when the oil money dries up, these third world, poorly attended grands prix start to disappear. We're shocked. Simply shocked...
GP2: Pierre Gasly, after blowing the points lead, comes back to win the GP2 championship. That inconsistency is probably what cost him a promotion to F1 and Toro Rosso.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Backup.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 34 -- The number of years between father Graham Hill's (first) world championship (1962) and his son's title (1996), and the number of years between father Keke Rosberg's world championship (1982) and his son's title (2016).
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: Much has been made of Keke Rosberg winning the world championship in 1982 with just one win, a sharp contrast to the Mercedes domination the past three years with Nico's nine victories for his title. 1982 saw as even as a year can get. Eleven different drivers out of 16 races won with nobody winning more than two, including nine different winners in nine consecutive races. The next five drivers in the championship order (Didier Pironi whose season and career ended in a near fatal crash at Hockenheimring, John Watson, Alain Prost who won the first two, Niki Lauda, and René Arnoux) won twice. Patrick Tambay, Michele Alboreto, Elio de Angelis, Riccardo Patrese, and Nelson Piquet also won just one race. The 1982 season also witnessed the deaths of Gilles Villeneuve and Riccardo Paletti.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Lewis Hamilton on his perspective of the concerns from Mercedes, "Right now, I'm losing the world championship, so I don't care if I lose this race."
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP 1: Nico Rosberg being reminded by his engineer what he needs to do, "Remember, we can afford P3."
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP 2: Keke Rosberg, who watched his son's championship deciding race from Dubai, after being asked what he thought of the stressful final laps, "I took a deep sip from my beer and thought 'Oh, this is going to get hot.'"
SCHEDULE: No new races, but we will probably lose a race. Ironically, the home grand prix of the new world champion.
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