The Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas held off his team mate Lewis Hamilton to take the final victory of the season at the Abu Dhabi GP.
Bottas drove a controlled race from the start to finish, maintaining the lead from pole position down into the first corner and through the first stint. Things looked a little marginal for the Finnish driver after the first round of stops, when it was clear Hamilton was more comfortable on the Supersoft tyres than Bottas. Luckily for Bottas, despite closing up and applying pressure, Hamilton lost ground and damaged is tyres when he made a lock-up into Turn 17. He was then unable to get close enough to the back of the sister Mercedes to attempt an overtake and had to settle for second place, eventually finishing three seconds behind.
“It is really important win for me after having pretty difficult start to second half of the year,” said Bottas. “Working hard on all the issues and getting better and better with everything. This weekend, pole and win, couldn’t be happier to end the season like this.”
The win, which made up for being beaten from pole in Brazil, was Bottas’ third of the season and was the first time the Finn has won a race since the Austrian Grand Prix in July. It was also the 12th win of the season for the Mercedes outfit, with Hamilton scoring the other nine wins.
“I did [give it everything today],” said Hamilton after the race. “Big congratulations to Valtteri, he did an amazing job today to hold me off. It’s very hard to overtake here so once I got to the last sector I struggled a little bit. I want to say a big thank you to the team, what they have produced for us this year is just incredible, it’s just an honour to race with them.”
The Mercedes team have once again won both the Drivers and Constructors championship for the fourth year in a row, and the 1-2 in Abu Dhabi once again signed off on yet another year that has been dominated by the Sliver Arrows.
The Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel had to settle for third today in an incredibly lonely race for the German driver. While Ferrari had run Mercedes close for much of 2017, they were simply no match for the Constructors World Champions at the Yas Marina Circuit, with Vettel eventually finishing 19 seconds adrift in third place. The third place however definitely assured Vettel runner up in the Drivers Championship for this season.
“It was a bit lonely,” admitted Vettel. “We were in no man’s land. I would have liked to be in the hunt but I’m happy with the podium.”
With five wins this season, Ferrari can be proud of what they’ve achieved this season. In this first year of F1’s faster, more aggressive cars, Sundays have often sparkled, particularly due to the Hamilton vs Vettel, Mercedes vs Ferrari battle when it was at its peak before the Scuderia’s challenge went off the rails in September and October. Mercedes were finally pushed in a way they’ve not been pushed before in this hybrid turbo era. It is clear the Maranello based team still have some work to do, but on the whole compared to the last few seasons this had been a marked improvement by the team.
Much like Ferrari, Red Bull also suffered a rather muted end to their championship season as Max Verstappen finished the race fifth behind Kimi Raikkonen after failing to jump the Finn through the pit stops. The team also lost out on fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship after Daniel Ricciardo failed to finish the race. Ricciardo had been running as high as fourth in his Red Bull but his race unravelled just after half distance. A brush with the wall triggered an emergency pit stop due to a slow puncture and then the Australian promptly retired soon after when his car developed a hydraulics fault. The DNF was Red Bull’s 13th of the year.
Like Ferrari this season, Red Bull too have been able to challenge Mercedes on occasion despite being significantly down on power thanks to their Renault engine. The team managed to score three victories this season, the same number as last year. However, compared to last year races like Malaysia and Mexico were won on merit rather than a failure on the Mercedes front, or a poor strategy call from Ferrari. This is even more impressive when you think the Red bull has spent the season playing catch up after some telemetry issues with their wind tunnel caused issues for the team at the beginning of the season. Like Ferrari the team could have done a lot better had it not been for the reliability issues they’ve been having. But if they can start the season strong next year, there is no reason they could not be in the hunt for the championship.
Nico Hulkenberg matched the Renault team’s best result of the season after he finished sixth in a move that will bring a lot of joy to the team, as well as an approximate additional £4.5million to next years racing budget.
Thanks to Hulkenberg’s finish today, Renault overhauled Toro Rosso for sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship, though it was not without its controversy. Hulkenberg comfortably beat the two Force India’s of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez, but he only got ahead of Perez after passing his former team-mate off the track on the first lap. The stewards handed Hulkenberg a five-second time penalty to be served at his pit stop, but he pulled more than that margin ahead of Perez on track and duly held position even after the pitstops.
Perez and Ocon seventh and eighth respectively to cap off a fine season for Force India, while Fernando Alonso signed off McLaren’s failed three-year Honda reunion with ninth place after a rare trouble-free weekend. The Spaniard was locked in a race long battle once again with the Williams of Felipe Massa, who was enjoying the final race of his F1 career. After changing positions twice on the first lap, Alonso eventually won out with a DRS-assisted pass on the Williams following the pit stops. Massa claimed the final points position to sign off his final race in Formula 1.
The Haas of Romain Grosjean finished just outside of the points in 11th for the team, with the fellow McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne in 12th. Kevin Magnussen recovered well from a first lap spin to finish 13th, while Pascal Wehrlein pulled off the overtake of the race to finish 14th for Sauber. The two Toro Rosso’s finished 15th and 16th, with Brendon Hartley finishing ahead of Pierre Gasly, who also recovered from a mid-race spin. Marcus Ericsson was 17th for Sauber, and Lance Stroll was the last of the classified finishers in 18th in his Williams following some mid race fault.
The only other retirement after Ricciardo today was the Renault of Carlos Sainz, who was forced to pull over on the side of the track after the team let him go with his left front tyre unattached.
Overall the race was rather dull, and at one point the biggest highlight of the race was watching the scrap for which driver was going to end up last. The Abu Dhabi circuit has always been a difficult one to overtake on, and today’s race just proved that without a shadow of a doubt. There were very few overtakes on track, and the few that we did see were often assisted by the DRS. With no real fight for the lead of the race, a rathe stale midfield with no overtaking, and a low attrition rate in terms of cars retiring, it’s fair to say this is not going to be top of anyone’s must watch again list.
However one dull race shouldn’t ruin what has been, on the whole, a very impressive season. There’s been a great scrap between two world class calibre drivers in different teams for the Drivers’ Championship this season. Watching the Red bull resurgence has been interesting. While the midfield battles up and down the grid have been spectacular, outshining even the battles at the front sometimes. Spain brought the first clear sign of the Liberty Media takeover when the young Ferrari fan was brought into the paddock to meet his hero Raikkonen. Baku brought the right amount of chaos and controversy, and for me was the race of the season. While Singapore brought the first lap drama, as well as the championship defining moment. While it was true the Drivers and Constructors championships were summed up before the final races, on the whole F1 2017 has been a good season for the sport. I’d like to say a huge thank you to my colleagues at Overtake Motorsport for another fantastic F1 season. From getting up at with the sparrows right through to burning the midnight oil and every time in between you’ve all been there with me. With sarcastic comments, passionate views on what’s been going on, brilliant analysis, and some true off kilter madness that can only be summed up as “the OM team has had too much caffeine again.” Thanks for everything guys.
Finally, I’d like to take the opportunity on behalf of everyone at OM to thank you also for your continued support this season. Having you click on and read our articles have genuinely made all the early starts, late nights, and madness all worth it. So thank you once again for your support. And we look forward to seeing you again soon.
I’ll leave you now with my highlight of the weekend. And after his retirement last season, we through that was the last we’d see of Felipe Massa in a Formula 1 cockpit. But the situation changed, and we got one final season with the happy Brazilian driver. While this may not have been a vintage year for Williams and Massa, it was still wonderful to see him going out on a high. Now though it’s time for Massa to hang up his F1 helmet. 269 starts, 11 wins, 41 podiums, 16 pole positions, 15 fastest laps, and 1167 career points. Obrigado Felipe. It’s been a pleasure watching you race.
— WILLIAMS RACING (@WilliamsRacing) November 26, 2017
The F1 season may be over, but the coverage will not stop on Overtake Motorsport. We have a full team by team season debrief coming up and a special F1 podcast all about the 2017 season. We will also have up to date team and driver’s news throughout the winter break, more analysis of the 2017 season and previews for the 2018 season, as well as reports on winter testing for all your F1 needs. So stick with OM for all your F1 needs over winter break as we count down to lights out in Australia.
Abu Dhabi GP Race Result
1. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes: 1:34.14.063
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes:
3. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari:
4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari:
5. Max Verstappen, Red Bull:
6. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault:
7. Sergio Perez, Force India:
8. Esteban Ocon, Force India:
9. Fernando Alonso, McLaren: +1 lap
10. Felipe Massa, Williams: +1 lap
11. Romain Grosjean, Haas: +1 lap
12. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren: +1 lap
13. Kevin Magnussen, Haas: +1 lap
14. Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber: +1 lap
15. Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso: +1 lap
16. Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso: +1 lap
17. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber: +1 lap
18. Lance Stroll, Williams: +1 lap
19. Carlos Sainz, Renault: DNF
20. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull: DNF
2017 Driver’s Championship
1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes: 363
2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari: 317
3. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes: 305
4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari: 205
5. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull: 200
6. Max Verstappen, Red Bull: 168
7. Sergio Perez, Force India: 100
8. Esteban Ocon, Force India: 87
9. Carlos Sainz, Renault: 54
10. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault: 43 (Finishes ahead of Massa due to higher finishing position)
11. Felipe Massa, Williams: 43
12. Lance Stroll, Williams: 40
13. Romain Grosjean, Haas: 28
14. Kevin Magnussen, Haas: 19
15. Fernando Alonso, McLaren: 17
16. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren: 13
17. Jolyon Palmer, Renault: 8
18. Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber: 5
19. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso: 5
20. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber: 0
21. Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso: 0
22. Antonio Giovinazzi, Sauber: 0
23. Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso: 0
24. Jenson Button, McLaren: 0
25. Paul DiResta, Williams: 0
2017 Constructors’ Championship
1. Mercedes: 668
2. Ferrari: 522
3. Red Bull: 368
4. Force India: 187
5. Williams: 83
6. Renault: 57
7. Toro Rosso: 53
8. Haas: 47
9. McLaren: 30
10. Sauber: 5