“That was another masterclass,” according to Lewis Hamilton’s race engineer over the pit-to-car radio on the cooling down lap, as his driver secured an eleventh win of the year at the very last race of the season in the FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX 2019.
When the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport driver took the chequered flag after 55 laps, a spectacular fireworks display began, whereas on track, much of the fireworks came from those behind him. In truth, Hamilton never looked in trouble and never lost the lead. Clearly, clinching his sixth world title a few races ago has done nothing to dent his appetite for winning.
Max Verstappen had lost second place shortly after the start to Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow’s Charles Leclerc, but the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver regained the position on lap 32, with a spectacular dive down the inside at Turn 8. The Dutchman thus confirmed his third place in the championship, a career best.
While the top two finishers celebrated the end of the year, smoking their tyres with some crowd-pleasing doughnuts, Charles Leclerc drove straight to the Number 3 board, knowing that his team faced a meeting with the Stewards after the race, to investigate an anomaly in the fuel data that Ferrari had supplied to the FiA before the start. The Stewards decided that there was a breach of the International Sporting Code (Article 12.1.1.i) and determined that the team should be fined €50,000 for its inaccurate declaration but the results stood as declared.
His third place also looked in doubt on track right at the end, as he came under threat from Valtteri Bottas. Proving the clear superiority of the World Championship winning team this weekend, Hamilton’s team-mate charged from the very back of the grid, from where he started with power unit-related penalties to finish fourth. The Finn’s performance was all the more noteworthy because a technical problem meant that no drivers were able to use DRS until around lap 18.
Race positions remained fairly stable until Ferrari started the pit stops, bringing its two drivers in on the same lap, Leclerc ahead of Sebastian Vettel, the German being the only driver in the lead group who had started on the Soft tyres. But the German had a slow stop which dropped him behind Bottas and for a while the two of them scrapped for position. After his pit stop, Verstappen complained of a driveability issue, but it didn’t seem to affect his performance and he eventually came home just under 17 seconds behind Hamilton, the Englishman banging in the fastest race of the lap in the closing stages to take an extra point. This was Hamilton’s fourth win at this track.
Having lost time at his first pit stop when a wheel stuck, Sebastian Vettel managed to overtake Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Alex Albon for fifth. Sergio Perez has always been good at tyre management and he built an excellent seventh place for SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team on the back of a long first stint. Eighth and tenth were the McLaren duo of Lando Norris, who has enjoyed an excellent rookie season and Carlos Sainz, who confirmed his position as best of the rest, being the highest placed driver in the championship from outside the top three teams. In between them in ninth place was tonight’s tyre master, as Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda’s Daniil Kvyat did 41 laps before pitting to come home ninth. It was not enough for his team to get ahead of Renault, who finish fifth in this year’s Constructor’s championship.
For a while it looked as though Nico Hulkenberg would finish in the points for the French team on what is his last – for the moment at least – Formula 1 drive. He was however rewarded with the people’s vote for Driver of the Day. The sport also says goodbye for now to Robert Kubica, the last driver to be classified, who is now leaving the ROKiT Williams team.
As usual, this Grand Prix attracts a large and enthusiastic crowd and this weekend was another sell-out with 60 thousand turning up, attracted by the spectacle of a race under floodlights, concerts and, for the very first time, an auction of fabulous collector cars that took place on Saturday night, when the Yas Marina starting grid was the scene for record breaking sales. Auction house RM Sotheby’s had brought together a wonderful array of important and historic cars. Some truly astounding sums of money were bid for some amazing cars, with a record-breaking US$6.8 million paid for a Pagani Zonda Aether. Of course, there had to be a Formula 1 angle at a Grand Prix and Michael Schumacher’s championship winning F2002 went for US$6.6 million.
In the final Formula 2 race of 2019, Luca Ghiotto finished the season as he started it – by winning the Sprint Race. The Italian’s fourth victory of the year, and fifth in F2, secured him third place in the Drivers’ Championship, ahead of Feature Race winner Sergio Sette Câmara, who finished third on track. Sandwiched between the two of them on the podium, 2020 Williams F1 driver Nicholas Latifi came home second, firing in the fastest lap in the process to become the F2 Vice-Champion.
Giuliano Alesi, son of former F1 race winner Jean, started from reverse grid pole, and the Ferrari Academy Driver got away strongly to keep the lead from the line as Ghiotto burst ahead of Latifi when the lights went out. Alesi’s strong start ultimately came at a cost. The Frenchman’s tyres couldn’t sustain his pace and he was eventually dragged backwards into Ghiotto’s path, who sent it down the inside of him to take the lead, before Latifi followed the Italian through for second.
Just like Saturday’s Feature Race, it was Sette Câmara who impressed the most. The in-form Brazilian started from eighth but worked his way through to third at the chequered flag for a double podium weekend. This secured the DAMS’ driver fourth place in the standings, and with it the necessary points for a Super Licence.
During the post-race press conference, Latifi paid tribute to the team he’s spent the past four seasons with, crediting DAMS with helping him develop both on and off the track. The Canadian will join fellow F2 graduates George Russell, Lando Norris, Alex Albon and Charles Leclerc in the Formula 1 paddock as he makes the step up to the pinnacle of motorsport next season.
And so, the 2019 FIA Formula 2 Championship comes to a close… It crowned a worthy Champion, Nyck de Vries, but it will also be remembered as the season that saw the late Anthoine Hubert claim two wins – something no other rookie achieved in 2019. The Frenchman will always be a part of the F2 family.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Facts & Figures
|1st||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport||55||1:34.05.715|
|2nd||Max Verstappen||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||55||+16.772|
|3rd||Charles Leclerc||Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow||55||+43.435|
|4th||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport||55||+44.379|
|5th||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow||55||+64.357|
|6th||Alexander Albon||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||55||+69.205|
|7th||Sergio Perez||SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team||54||+1 lap|
|8th||Lando Norris||McLaren F1 Team||54||+1 lap|
|9th||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda||54||+1 lap|
|10th||Carlos Sainz||McLaren F1 Team||54||+1 lap|
|11th||Daniel Ricciardo||Renault F1 Team||54||+1 lap|
|12th||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault F1 Team||54||+1 lap|
|13th||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo Racing||54||+1 lap|
|14th||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team||54||+1 lap|
|15th||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team||54||+1 lap|
|16th||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing||54||+1 lap|
|17th||George Russell||ROKiT Williams Racing||54||+1 lap|
|18th||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda||53||+2 laps|
|19th||Robert Kubica||ROKiT Williams Racing||53||+2 laps|
|R||Lance Stroll||SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team||45||DNF|
Fastest lap: Lewis Hamilton (1.39.283 on lap 53)
|Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport||739|
|Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow||504|
|Aston Martin Red Bull Racing||417|
|McLaren F1 Team||145|
|Renault F1 Team||91|
|Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda||85|
|SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team||73|
|Alfa Romeo Racing||57|
|Haas F1 Team||28|
|ROKiT Williams Racing||1|
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