2018 Abu Dhabi Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: Overall, an interesting and entertaining season.
TRACK: There was more passing this year. But, this track still should never be the season finale, no matter how much money they pay.
EVENT: Still made up of all tourists except for a few locals in the luxury suites.
QUALIFYING: Hamilton remains hot, Vettel remains second fiddle, Leclerc remains impressive, and Vandoorne remains behind Alonso.
RACE: In the end, the race results mirrored the season. Hamilton with a comfortable win. Vettel providing the false impression of being competitive but never really having a chance. Their respective teammates nowhere in sight. Verstappen providing the fireworks as a sometimes contender and ever so slightly having the better of Ricciardo. The rest of the field falling into place after the top six positions are locked away.
START: Clean up front but messy behind them as Verstappen drops down the field when his car doesn't accelerate, Ricciardo and Leclerc duke it out, and Grosjean, through no fault of his own, sends Hulkenberg into a wild, scary barrel roll.
HAMILTON: Last race he sort of lucked into the win. This race, it was all his. No longer does anything seem to make him back off anymore.
BOTTAS: The worst race of his career. With Ocon as Mercedes' new test driver, Valtteri will be looking over his shoulder all of 2019...
VETTEL: Somehow, needs to get his swagger back by Australia.
RAIKKONEN: So much for a Ferrari sendoff. Now onto Sauber to do ... something.
VERSTAPPEN: This time his fight with Ocon was for position. This time, Max kept it (relatively) clean. A little too late for that...
RICCIARDO: No final shooey at Red Bull. It will be awhile before we see one with Renault.
SAINZ: Speaking of Renault, nice run for Carlos in his last race there.
HULKENBERG: Not a nice roll for Nico.
LECLERC: Yeah, we sound like a broken record. We can't wait to see what Charles will do at Ferrari. Watch your back, Vettel...
ERICSSON: A career no one will remember. But hey, Marcus will.
SAUBER: They made up huge ground on Racing Point and McLaren. Definitely a team to keep an eye on next year.
PEREZ: Will be very interesting to see how Sergio is treated when the new owner's son occupies the other seat.
OCON: While Esteban waits. And waits. And waits...
HAAS: A great start to the season, a troubled middle, and a petered out comeback down the stretch.
GENE HAAS: We understand why Gene has a bug up his ass over how Force India turning into Racing Point all went down with the prize money. But Haas is starting to crossover into the territory of pettiness and vindictiveness.
ALONSO: A career of might have beens due mostly to his own implosions and a bit of a first lap nutter (Spa, 2012) and horrid Ferrari strategy (Abu Dhabi, 2010).
VANDOORNE: The can't miss talent missed. A lesson concerning the "hype train."
HARTLEY: The feel good second chance story didn't end very well for Brendon.
SIROTKIN: The old, "I'm breaking up with you, you're not breaking up with me" excuse. Whatever...
KUBICA: The fairy tale comes true. Now, we'll have to see if reality matches the dreams.
F2: George Russell wins the championship and is heading to Williams. Lando Norris takes runner up and is heading to McLaren. Alexander Albon finishes third and is heading to Toro Rosso.
MOTHERS: Let's not forget the wonderful folks at Mothers Polish. Things have gone so smoothly with ESPN's coverage, it's easy to forget a majority of that reason is due to Mothers sponsoring commercial free race and qualifying coverage. And, ESPN has gotten better in choosing the right moments for commercials in the practice sessions and when to leave the coverage at the end.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Donuts.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 2 -- Only two teams (Mercedes and Haas) are keeping their 2018 driver lineup intact for 2019. Alonso leaves F1 with just two championships. Hamilton winds up the year winning twice after clinching the title when he's never before won a single race in the same year after clinching.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: The only drivers to win Abu Dhabi outside of four-time winner Lewis Hamilton and three-time winner Sebastian Vettel are drivers with Finnish blood in them: Kimi Raikkonen (2012), Nico Rosberg (2015), and Valtteri Bottas (2017).
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Nico Hulkenberg's dramatic description trapped in an upside down car, "Holy shit, I'm hanging here like a cow!"
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: Whether you find it humorous, exasperating, or proof of why Alonso's political maneuvering cost him a more stellar career, it was all there when he responded to the team's urging to get that last point, "I have 1,800 points."
SCHEDULE: Lots to look forward to in 2019. The biggest questions are will the new aero rules really improve the racing (we think a little bit), Honda has improved but will they make the next quantum leap (we don't think so) for Red Bull's satisfaction (their big mouths will ruin another engine relationship), and most importantly at which race will Ferrari shit the bed again (we'll give them to Singapore this time)?
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