Abu Dabhi GP – The Grand Finale
This is it, the final Grand Prix of 2020. I’m not quite sure how we’ve watched 17 races in 23 weeks because the time has absolutely flown by. When I watched my first ever F1 race back in July we were so uncertain of what the season would hold and yet here we are, waiting to see who will be crowned number 2 in the drivers’ championship.
With Hamilton being out of his seat last week after testing positive for Covid-19, nobody was quite sure how he would perform today. That isn’t very important though, as he has already claimed the World Championship thanks to his incredible performance throughout the year. For today he was safe, but Bottas and Verstappen would fight for second place in the drivers’ championship. Verstappen managed to qualify first yesterday which put him in a very good position for today’s race. He needed to take a first or second place finish today in order to claim that spot. Bottas, on the other hand, only needed to finish in the top 4 to claim second place due to the points he had accumulated so far.
The first few turns looked fast and it was great to see the cars squeezed together, snaking through the corners for the last time. Amazingly there were no incidents until Perez had a complete engine failure and had to nurse his car to the side of the track. He had moved from last place up to 14th and I was expecting another fantastic recovery race after his performance last week. Unfortunately, it was the end of the road for Perez as he had to retire and end his season on a low note. What a shame for him to not even finish his last race when he has no seat for next year.
What followed next was a pretty uneventful and smooth race with no more retirements or incidents, mostly due to the track layout and lack of overtaking opportunities. Verstappen had gained such a good time advantage on the rest of the grid that it was quite an easy win for him in the end, and so we saw Max Verstappen finish first followed by Bottas, Hamilton, Albon, Norris and Sainz. Mercedes claimed first place in the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull finished second and McLaren in third. I know that more hardcore Formula One fans will be in shock that Ferrari isn’t in the top 3 of the contructor standings but as a new-comer to the scene, it doesn’t have so much of an impact on me. All I’ve known is a dominant Mercedes closely followed by Red Bull Racing.
On that note, I’d like to reflect on my first season of F1 and how much I have learnt. At the start of 2020 I didn’t have a clue about the main players, the drivers, any F1 history or rules. Now, I can confidently tell you the names of all drivers and their teams, where people are moving to next year and where they moved from last year. I have a favourite driver (Daniel Ricciardo of course) and I’m so excited to see how things pan out next year with engine changes and driver changes. I’m familiar with the layout of a race weekend and understand how tyre strategy works/can change a race. I even know some of the typical characteristics of some of the teams such as Red Bull having the fastest pit stops. Last year I could never have imagined being in this position and I’m genuinely very proud of myself for absorbing this crazy world. I would also like to say a huge thank you to Outlap F1 for letting me write their content and ramble to my heart’s content. It has been an amazing experience talking to and working with the chaps in Chicago! To finish this blog, this season and this crazy, whirlwind of a year… here are my highlights:
Favourite Team Principal:
Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz
The first one of course!
Aston Martin Red Bull
Russell’s tribute to Claire Williams on the team radio when she left
Norris singing “it’s Friday” or “YEAHHH BOYYYYYY”
Most exciting moment:
Hamilton getting a 30 second penalty at Monza which opened up the rest of the race
Obviously Grosjean’s crash
Second would be Russell missing out on 1st place at Sakhir GP
This is Motorsport Soph, signing off!
Sophie Middleton @MotorsportSoph