2020 Abu Dhabi Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: The naysayers can point to the Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton runaways yet again. But sometimes, numbers tell a different story. For the first time since 2013, we had four different teams win and 13 different drivers visit the podium. Twice, a podium consisted entirely of drivers who never won before. We had an emotional Monza and a wild Sakhir. A miraculous fiery escape. New, interesting tracks graced the year, bringing even more fun. All in all, it was an entertaining 2020 season and we're grateful there even was one.
EVENT: One of the coolest flyovers.
TRACK: Why is this even called a race track? The key word there being race.
QUALIFYING: Verstappen reminds Mercedes he's still quick, Bottas continues to play second fiddle, but that means he bests Hamilton, Norris and Kvyat pull out spectacular laps, Ferrari performs the same dance -- Leclerc through to Q3 while Vettel is stuck in Q2, and Russell wakes up from his dream.
RACE: We knew coming from the scintillating Sakhir and the exciting Bahrain races, Abu Dhabi was going to be a letdown no matter what. And it lived down to its expectations.
START: Nice and clean and orderly after the two previous crazy race starts.
VERSTAPPEN: This is what Max is hoping for next year. But, he needs that car to be that way at the start of the season.
ALBON: Did Alex really do enough to keep his job? The purpose of a number two driver is to finish right behind the number one driver. Not two places further back catching someone in "garbage" time.
RED BULL: Let's not get all excited over them being the best car this weekend. They have done well at this track before. They typically peak at the end of the season (talk about too little, too late). And, Mercedes stopped developing their car weeks ago.
HONDA: The only engine to have not taken a single penalty for using too many engine components. Whoever would have thought that was possible just a couple of years ago?
BOTTAS: Nice comeback weekend.
HAMILTON: It was obvious Lewis was not 100%. But, great champions in any sport never like to be told they have to sit out.
MERCEDES: A blip somewhat caused by their own making. They've already been working on next year's car ... for awhile. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
NORRIS: All around, an excellent season for Lance.
SAINZ: Though Carlos started the year out a bit slow, he was the most consistent McLaren driver down the stretch.
MCLAREN: They've made huge strides in the past two years. Interestingly, since Alonso left. Just saying...
RICCIARDO: Lame duck Daniel did an amazing job for Renault. Now, he'll take his talent and attitude to do the same for McLaren.
RENAULT-cum-Alpine has their guy for next season. But will Alonso really do more than what Ricciardo did moving this team forward?
PEREZ: Sakhir was the proper sendoff for Sergio and Racing Point.
RACING POINT: It's easy to look at the 15 points taken away by the FIA over the brake duct ruling. However, they lost a boatload of points over the course of the season due to bad strategy calls, reliability issues, and crashes (whether their fault or not). On paper, Racing Point was the third best team. In the standings, not so much.
KVYAT: A disappointing race considering Daniil's fantastic qualifying effort and his impressive last few races. It may be the last.
VETTEL: You have big shoes to fill at Racing Point...
FERRARI: The last time Ferrari did not lead a single lap in an F1 season was 1992.
MAGNUSSEN: Good luck in IMSA next year. We look forward to watching you there.
HAAS: They started out great using the rules to their advantage, rattling the competition, and finishing fifth in their first season. Now, after 100 grands prix, they transition into a "dead slow" rent-a-ride outfit, taking money from any dispicable source.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Season.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: 161 -- The number of days the season took, the shortest since 1966.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: This was not the latest an F1 season ended. It was the third latest. The latest was in 1962 at the South African GP on December 29 at the Prince George Circuit, which also holds the record for the earliest start. Graham Hill won in a BRM en route to a championship. The following year they returned to Prince George on the same weekend. Thus, the season ended December 28. That race was won by Jim Clark from pole position in a Lotus-Climax who was also the champion. The only other December finales were 1959 (the 12th at the USGP in Sebring) and 2019 (the 1st at Abu Dhabi).
TWEET OF THE WEEKEND: After Sergio Perez dropped out, his team tweeted, #checout with a broken heart emoji.
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: Max Verstappen putting it succinctly and truthfully, "A simply lovely race."
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: George Russell with a few laps to go, "When I looked in my mirror, it was like last week. Valtteri is behind. But he was lapping me."
SCHEDULE: Twenty-two races (and one TBA) are on the calendar. But this time around, we know it may not play out as planned. Thus, be glad whenever a race takes place and enjoy it.
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