2017 Abu Dhabi Thoughts
THE BIG PICTURE: It certainly was a season of intrigue and excitement with Ferrari and Red Bull taking it to Mercedes. If that holds up next year along with an improved McLaren thanks to acquiring a Renault engine and Renault itself improving on their chassis, not to mention Williams with a year of Paddy Lowe's technical management, 2018 could be a fantastic competitive year.
TRACK: Still boggles our mind that with such a clean slate, they wound up with this. There has got to be a way to make some changes to make this track raceable.
EVENT: You go for the vacation and happen to see a race. Because the locals sure don't come out for this.
QUALIFYING: Bottas gets pole again but this time in a fair fight with Hamilton, Ricciardo surprises Max and Kimi with a mega final lap, Force India is strong, and Haas disappoints again.
START: Bottas is perfect, Vettel holds of Ricciardo who holds off Raikkonen, Hulkenberg cheats his way past Perez, Alonso is stuck behind Massa again, and Magnussen spins off in a massive plum of tire smoke.
RACE: It's Abu Dhabi. You weren't expecting a good race, were you?
BOTTAS: Was able to answer everything Hamilton threw at him. A great job by Valtteri to end an inconsistent year.
HAMILTON: Lewis continues the interesting fact of never winning a race in the same season after clinching a title.
MERCEDES: Their Achilles heal is handling in dirty air behind other cars (and their longer wheelbase on some tracks). The more competitive other teams become, the more this is an issue.
VETTEL: Cruising to third. We hope he had a nice podcast on his radio...
RAIKKONEN: Well, Kimi did move into fourth place in the standings, but that was just because of Ricciardo's DNF. Let's face it, Raikkonen is now going to be the Felipe Massa of 2018.
FERRARI: Still greatly lacking speed on some circuits. But, with the overall improvement of this year, we're confident the Scuderia will be even stronger next year.
VERSTAPPEN: Quite the anti-climactic final two races to finish 2017 after all that excitement in North America.
RICCIARDO: If it's not Max, it's Daniel inflicted by mechanical woes.
RED BULL: A stronger Renault on an already strong chassis while curing the reliability issues could turn Red Bull back into serious title contenders.
HULKENBERG: In the end, it was their full time driver who nabbed the points necessary for Renault to take sixth place in the constructors' standings.
RENAULT: How could you completely forget to put the air gun on the wheel? You didn't even pretend to make an effort.
PEREZ: In the end, Sergio got the better of his rising teammate in the last race and the final standings.
OCON: But, we can't wait for Esteban to continue pressuring Perez next year.
FORCE INDIA: Which will leave the team's management with many gray hairs. Couple that with the other midfielders guaranteed to be greatly improved, and there will be a lot of sleepless nights trying to hold onto fourth place next year.
ALONSO: That smoke you saw in the paddock was Fernando lighting up a bonfire with all his Honda clothing. And you can see his smile all the way from wherever you live.
HONDA: And no, the Honda engine is not going to suddenly become the engine to beat in 2018 just because that is Alonso's luck. Nothing in Honda's three year odyssey suggests they have any clue after all this time.
MASSA: Obrigado, Felipe. Again.
STROLL: A race to forget. But a rookie season to remember and be proud of.
HAAS: They really should be worried. All those fellow midfield teams will be much improved, especially McLaren who finished behind Haas this year. Even Sauber, with a newer engine and association with Ferrari, will be better. If Haas doesn't get massive improvements over the winter, they could see themselves on the bottom come 2018.
WEHRLEIN: A strong race, but a possible case of too little, too late for Pascal.
ERICSSON: Is Marcus in or out, despite the "follow the money" thought he should be in?
KUBICA: We will find out very soon if the greatest F1 comeback story since Niki Lauda will happen.
FIA: The idiots strike again. The five-second penalty to Hulkenberg for illegally passing Perez was useless. The message they are sending is if you are clearly faster than someone else but can't get by, just go off track to pass them, build up a large enough margin, and you won't have to worry about any penalty. Ergo, cheat all you want. The FIA is too stupid to figure it out.
LOGO: Well, we'll hold off judgement. Sometimes new logos need to sink in before critiquing them. Then, sometimes not...
LECLERC: The Formula 2 champion finishes the season with a spectacular, ballsy (and somewhat dirty) pass for the lead on the last lap of the final race. Can't wait to see Charles in F1 next year.
NBC: Say what you want, but nobody, not even the vaunted Speedvision/SPEED days, has invested as much into F1 coverage in America than NBC. From extended pre and post race shows, a professional studio with add-ons, sending the reporters to Monaco and the North American races, putting Monaco on live network TV for the first time ever, and many off track features and shows, NBC respected the sport like no one before. And, more importantly, grew the U.S. audience. Now, all that is thrown away due to some terrible shortsightedness by Liberty Media.
WORD OF THE WEEKEND: Signoff.
STAT OF THE WEEKEND: Infinite -- The amount the ratings will drop for F1 in the U.S. when ESPN takes over.
HISTORICAL STAT OF THE WEEKEND: Lewis Hamilton scored in every race (20) this year. That has only been accomplished by the champion two other times. In 2002, Michael Schumacher scored in all 17 races (heck, he finished on the podium in all 17 races, in fact, in first or second in 16 of them). And in 1954, Juan Manuel Fangio scored in all eight races (not including the Indy 500).
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND: David Hobbs stating what many of us are thinking, "If ESPN or anybody had come along and outbid NBC in a rights war, and we were pushed out by a clearly superior team and deal, that would be one thing. You could say, 'OK, I guess the best guy's won.' But the deal they've got is horrible. That is irritating, that we're being ousted by what will be an inferior show. To be pushed out by a pathetic deal, including for the viewer, is sad."
QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND RUNNERUP: Leave it up to Kimi Raikkonen to state what we are all thinking, "It was a kind of boring race. It shouldn't be like that. It's more like endurance racing. As racers, nobody's happy because we want to race."
SCHEDULE: Back to 21 races next year, Malaysia is gone, and France and Germany return. Now, what are we going to do the next four months...?
Copyright © 2017 by Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.