Photography supplied by Diego Merino.
Surprised to see the #77 Mercedes on top at the last trace? We weren’t. You only had to take the performance of Valtteri Bottas throughout the year to realize that Yas Marina was one of these opportunities for the Finn to show what he’s capable of when there’s low grip out there, a fairly flat surface and a handful of braking points for 90º corners. Had you remembered what happened at Sochi Autodrom, you’d have forgotten about failed uphill starts towards Interlagos’ Senna Esses.
Not that everything would have been as easy (was it any easy indeed?) had this race taken place at the usual two-o’clock-local-time schedule. A hotter asphalt could have made the difference in Hamilton’s favour, particularly in a race decided by less than five seconds of distance, as has been the case in many of the 2017 races. However, you could be forgiven to think that the Mercedes parade was fully under control and Hamilton could have truly attacked whenever he had decided that a ceasefire was not on the cards for the season finale.
And that thought takes us to the general feeling among the fans who watched a race where almost the whole top end of the grid finished where they had started, bar a retirement or two. The final episode of 2017 was not up to the expectations, and people had to concentrate on the Grosjean vs. Stroll fight (with all due respect to the midfield pack) in order to get some excitement from the Middle Eastern night. Truth to be told, there were some key duels that rewarded those who paid attention to the championship positions yet to decide, like the fourth place in the drivers championship (obtained by Kimi Räikkönen after Ricciardo’s third failure in the last four races) and the sixth position in the constructors’ table.
In fact, Renault did their best to add a bit of emotion to their task when they failed to attach adequately the right front tyre to Carlos Sainz’s car, while the tribulations of Nico Hülkenberg evidenced once again the race stewards’ inconsistency. There you had a manoeuvre and a decision that invited me to put on conspiracy theorist hat. Hülkenberg had cut the corner and gained an unfair advantage, and this almost always means that the position has to be given back to the car that was running in front of the offender. Instead of applying this rule, Hülkenberg was given a 5-second penalty which would have to be added to his pit stop. By not forcing to proceed as habit dictates, the Renault driver was getting rid from having to spend most of the evening blocked behind a slower car (the Force India at this track and this point of the year) with much higher top speed that protected him in the overtaking points (if there is such a thing in Abu Dhabi). Were we missing a hidden political reason why Renault was being favoured?
All in all, to say that the unveiling of the new F1 logo represented the second most exciting bit of the weekend apart from qualifying, it’s something that evidences how much work the Liberty men still have ahead of them. The logo in itself? It makes you think that FOM took a Spectrum from their eSports championship and gave it to the designer as a tool. After all, aren’t most of F1 fans always remembering past times?
The main event actually took place after the race itself, and we’re talking F1 testing featuring none other than our old connection Robert Kubica (OK, we spoke to him in the past, nothing more than that).
Gosh! Whatever happened to F1’s long-standing tradition of non-stop testing?! It’s unbelievable they’re spending so much cash on simulators only to get it all wrong once they bolt these terrible “Stratovomitosaurus” parts onto their cars, no matter how clever they might be.
Anyway, back in 2011 we dedicated a quick post to Robert after his horrendous rally crash, you can check it out by clicking HERE.
Then we had the distinct pleasure of seeing him performing in the WRC, he was clearly up to something!
In 2017, after almost 10 centuries away from F1 – feels like it! – the indestructible Pole is back in Williams corporate pristine white, driving like nobody is watching and actually being in contention for a Williams race seat in 2018!
His age is against him, his injuries are against him. Even many journos are against him! Quite understandable given the amount of young talent available at the moment.
We say give Robert a chance, maybe a few races to evaluate whether he still got what he had. If his raw speed is not the same, put a wild one, like Kvyat, behind the wheel of that Williams FW1,000,000. Frank’s millionth car in F1, wow! He sure been around for a long time, aye?