Five things F1 Learned: Abu Dhabi

The chequered flag has finally fallen for the final time in 2017 with everything finally settled.

There wasn’t much to settle of note apart from second in driver championship, whilst Toro Rosso, Renault and Haas F1 contested sixth in the constructors’ fight.

For one last time, just what did F1 learn from this weekend as the sun set on this season in Abu Dhabi?


Renault snatches at death

Toro Rosso entered weekend on 53 points with Renault just behind by four points on 49. Haas F1 were then just two points behind Renault but not out of the fight cos seven points would net them that sixth position and more prize money.

Nico Hulkenberg in Abu Dhabi
Nico Hulkenberg during Friday practice

After a difficult FP1 (presumably spent experimenting for 2018), Renault stepped up their game whilst their two rivals struggled all weekend.

Race day saw Toro Rosso totally out of running for points, whilst Romain Grosjean gave it a real good try to no avail. 

In end, Renault were a class above their rivals, despite Carlos Sainz retiring as a result of a loose wheel at pit stop. 

The final standings in battle for sixth is as follow; 

Renault – 57 points

Toro Rosso – 53 points

Haas F1 – 47 points


Massa bows out on high

12 months on from initially ending his F1 career here, Felipe Massa has finally hung up his steering wheel for the final time.

With tenth in drivers’ championship still in balance against teammate – Lance Stroll, Massa still had one last battle on his hands if wanted to end his final F1 season with a top ten finish. 

After a decent weekend compared to Williams’ usual struggles of this season, we had one final battle between Massa and ex Ferrari teammate, Fernando Alonso. 

Alas, Alonso came up trumps here after the Brazilian took it a fortnight ago at Interlagos. 

With Stroll struggling, it meant that 11th would be Massa’s after Nico Hulkenberg nabbed tenth on countback. 

That final loss won’t stop Massa from looking back on a F1 career, full of true highs (winning 2008 Brazilian GP and pole in Austria with Williams) and lows (“Fernando is faster than you”, 2009 injury)


McLaren on rise?

With teams staying out in Abu Dhabi for a post season test, if wanted to test 2018 parts then they had to run those parts all weekend.

That rule therefore saw teams experimenting with various new pieces and signs of how things might look next year play out.

The biggest surprise were McLaren, who were tuned in all weekend with barely any problems and nearly got both cars into Q3.

Stoffel Vandoorne
McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne during Friday practice


If their performance here is an ominous reflection for 2018, could we see McLaren in the mix next season amongst Red Bull and Force India?

Ferrari meanwhile seems to be going for a Red Bull style rear next season, if what we saw in FP1 is anything to go by.


Kimi Raikkonen in Abu Dhabi FP1
Kimi Raikkonen during Friday practice



Red Bull’s reliability issues continue

Red Bull will be relieved that 2017 is now over (post season test aside) after yet more reliability woe. 

Throughout free practice, the team didn’t run regularly in an effort to save on engine mileage for the race. 

Alas that work was undone by a hydraulic issue for Daniel Ricciardo in the race, making it 13 retirements. 


Small bites

  • McLaren-Honda partnership ended on a decent note with Alonso netting two points. 
  • Could Valtteri Bottas be a contender next season, having beaten Lewis Hamilton this weekend?
  • Force India again shows incredible consistency to surely be team of 2017 for me. 
  • Away from Formula One, congratulations to Russian Time who took the F2 title this morning in their potentially final race as part of Formula Two (F1’s feeder series).


Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has followed this year’s ‘Five things F1 Learned’ series.

Over the coming days, I will be publishing a season review team by team so keep an eye out for that and I wish you all a merry Xmas. 


As the sun sets on a fantastic season, if missed any race/s or half term report this is the perfect opportunity to get up to speed by clicking on relevant link/s below. 


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