Round 21 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
I have to say that I have found it quite odd that the 1982 Formula One World Champion Keke Rosberg hasn’t been seen at a Grad Prix that his son has been competing in for years, but great that he managed to make it to Abu Dhabi.
It’s been a predictable, and at times boring season but at least we went into the last race of the 2016 season in Abu Dhabi with two potential winners of the driver’s world championship.
I have heard many people this year say how unhealthy the Mercedes dominance has been for the sport. I always refrain from agreeing. When you are part of a winning team as I was at Red Bull, there were times in those 4 championship winning years where we could almost do nothing wrong, and it was far from boring.
It’s easy for me to relate to every Mercedes team member who today will be feeling ecstatic, relieved and thankful that it’s all over. He well for the meantime anyway.
It requires a tremendous amount of commitment to be part of this sexy business, but commitment isn’t enough to guarantee success. You also need focus, belief and ambition, even when things seem to be going against you.
Lewis started the weekend with nothing to lose, he could only win the championship whereas Nico could win but also lose his 12 point advantage.
During Friday’s practice and certainly in qualifying it was Lewis who looked more relaxed. Through Q1, Q2 and importantly in Q3 he didn’t put a foot wrong where Nico made all, be it small, mistakes. It was enough to put Lewis on pole position and Nico second. Which for Nico was fine. If he finished 3rd or higher in the race, he would be champ, regardless of where Lewis finished.
I’m sure that Lewis would have had the better night’s sleep on Saturday.
So to race day. One thing Formula One has done in the past is throw up huge surprises so this wasn’t a race to go shopping during.
Now I’m not a member of the Lewis Hamilton fan club. The first time I met him, he was 12 and a McLaren prodigy. My opinion hasn’t changed since. However, if I were in his position, I think that I would have done the same. Lewis wanted to win, and his less than fair tactic was his only option.
When you look at the results of both drivers across the season, it was unlikely Nico could lose unless something extraordinary happened. Nico even had the knowledge that if the two crashed into each other, he would be the victor… Just like Senna did to Prost in 1990.
They both got away from the start cleanly with Lewis leading into the first corner ahead of Nico. The team had warned Lewis that if he was leading, which he was, not to drive slowly to bunch the cars up thus exposing Nico to an attack from others. The Yas Marina circuit has every quality that would lend itself to dozens of overtakes during a race, but for some reason, that’s never been the case. With around 15 laps remaining, Lewis did exactly what the team told him not to do. His lap times were around 2 or even 3 seconds slower than many others on track, but Nico still managed to hold on to second and become World Champion.
2017 has so much potential to mix things up. This weekend’s Grand Prix was typical of many in 2016, Mercedes winning in the slowest time possible. This is not what this great sport is about. Unfortunately the regulations that promote this style of driving will remain unchanged, but hopefully, the increased down force, wider tyres and louder engines will be enough to spice up the show.