After 1262 laps across 21 countries, Formula One finally brought the curtain down on a thrilling season at Yas Marina with the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend.
Teams spent the weekend in endurance mode as they battled to get their exhausted power units through the weekend, whilst some were saying goodbye as they prepare to move on to pastures new.
Abu Dhabi therefore was a weekend of patience and emotion throughout the paddock, so let crack on with our final race weekend review of the season.
Race results: Lewis Hamilton: 1st, Valtteri Bottas – 4th
Mercedes have dominated around here in the hybrid era and this year was no different, with Valtteri Bottas dominating the field throughout Friday Practice.
Hamilton then dominated qualifying to take his 88th pole whilst Bottas managed to qualify second with a fresh power unit, although he had to start from the back in which he produced an excellent fightback to finish fourth.
Hamilton meanwhile blitzed the race without conceding the lead throughout, which highlights how brilliant their car was not only around this track but across the season as a whole as the Brit scored at every race this season.
I therefore have little else to say other than Mercedes surely will be the team to catch once again next season.
Race results: Charles Leclerc – 3rd, Sebastian Vettel – 5th
Messy is the only way to describe Ferrari’s weekend because they struggled throughout Practice, particularly at Turn 19 where Vettel crashed at the end of FP1 before Leclerc narrowly avoided the same fate during FP2.
In fact, that final sector and corner was their Achilles heel all weekend because they failed to preserve their tyre life to cope with the demands of that section which forced them into a two-stopper on Raceday.
Leclerc also missed out on his final qualifying lap due to everyone backing off in this sector, in order to find space for their own final fliers although Vettel failed to improve on his time despite just making the line in time.
Third and fifth therefore was the best that Ferrari could manage to cap off a terrible weekend in which they also received a €50k fine for a fuel breach in regards to Leclerc, who ultimately missed out on third in the drivers’ standings.
Ferrari however need a rethink over the winter break because this season has once again been littered with silly strategical errors, although their car has improved significantly which is a positive.
Race results: Max Verstappen – 2nd, Alex Albon – 6th
As per the norm this season, Red Bull had two halves to their weekend because Verstappen pushed Mercedes all the way on one lap pace, and even topped FP3 with a late flier.
Third was his ultimate limit though in Qualifying once the power was turned up before Bottas took his penalty – promoting Verstappen up to second on the grid, which is great credit to the car’s improvement throughout the season in Red Bull’s first season under Honda power.
A sluggish start on the mediums however allowed Leclerc past but a strong opening stint proved key as he was able to control second-place after the Monegasque’s second stop, although power issues prevented him from hunting down Hamilton for the win.
Verstappen however managed to secure third in the Drivers’ standings by virtue of finishing ahead of Leclerc, which caps off an excellent season for the Dutchman.
Albon meanwhile enjoyed a solid if unspectacular weekend battling the Ferraris, even if he performed better in the daytime sessions than under the lights but I expect him to come back stronger next season now that he has settled into the team.
Red Bull therefore should be happy with how the weekend has played out overall but next season will be the big test of whether they can challenge for titles again.
Race results: Carlos Sainz – 10th, Lando Norris – 8th
After the high of Brazil, McLaren were brought back down to earth with a bump as they struggled to get the car up to speed throughout Practice, which was crucial because they were the only team left to sort out their Qualifying head-to-head record for this season.
Qualifying however saw both drivers unlock their true pace as both flirted with the drop at times, before reaching Q3 where Norris produced an excellent lap to qualify in P7 and win their Qualifying battle 11-10 to become the first Brit since Hamilton in 2007 to outqualify a Spaniard over a season.
Both drivers then enjoyed brilliant races in which they battled Renault for most of the race, with Norris producing a stern drive to eighth although it could of been seventh if Sergio Perez hadn’t got him on the last lap.
Sainz meanwhile executed a late two stopper to snatch tenth and secure sixth in the drivers’ standings, which is an incredible achievement after Red Bull let him go last season.
McLaren therefore looks like a team on the rise again with their blended youth/experience pairing, so expect them to be a team to watch out for in 2020.
Race results: Daniel Ricciardo – 11th, Nico Hulkenberg – 12th
Renault have definitely had a tough weekend because Ricciardo suffered a power unit failure in FP1, which meant that they had to preserve their usage throughout practice in order to be capable of pushing to the maximum in qualifying and the race.
Well that decision paid off with both cars into Q3 although they were unlucky to not score points after strategies elsewhere conspired against them, and particularly for Hulkenberg who deserved a point in what looks like his final F1 race.
Renault however should hold their heads high because this was a decent weekend overall, as they sealed fifth place in the Constructors’ standings after Toro Rosso failed to outscore them by eight points.
Race results: Pierre Gasly – 18th, Daniil Kvyat – 9th
Although they failed to pip Renault to fifth in the Constructors’ standings, Toro Rosso had a decent weekend with two hard fought points brought home by Kvyat.
FP1 wasn’t one of their best but they mounted a great recovery in FP2 & 3 to put themselves around the top ten, which would eventually see Gasly qualify in P12 whilst Kvyat was P14.
It was however the Russian who shone with a brilliant 40 lap opening stint on the hard tyres, before charging back up to ninth which surely has to be one of his best dry performances all season.
Gasly meanwhile experienced a ‘frustrating’ race after he got clipped by both Racing Point cars into Turn One at the start, consequently putting him down the order with no chance of points.
He however managed to finish seventh in the drivers’ championship despite a mid-season team swap, which is a fantastic achievement and hopefully a sign that he can continue to rediscover his top form next season.
Toro Rosso therefore should be proud of all that they have achieved this season, including two podiums – of which Brazil marked their first ever dry race podium in F1.
Race results: Sergio Perez – 7th, Lance Stroll – Retired
After a tough season, Racing Point will be pleased to have finished on a high with Perez, who was around the top ten all weekend and ultimately took a brilliant seventh placed finish via excellent tyre management and attack.
This performance included a last lap pass on McLaren’s Norris, which meant that Perez snatched a strong tenth placed finish in the drivers’ standings.
Both drivers however were involved in a first lap collision with Gasly, which broke Stroll’s front wing, and the Canadian never recovered before a brake issue curtailed his running ten laps from the finish.
It therefore is arguable that double points could of been possible but Racing Point did make the best of a bad situation and managed to finish best of the rest, which is great credit to their progress.
Next season however needs to see significant improvement and in particularly from Stroll, whose head-to-head record will be discussed in our season review later this week.
Race results: Kimi Raikkonen – 13th, Antonio Giovinazzi – 16th
Alfa Romeo were so uncompetitive this weekend that there is little to say other than Giovinazzi was lucky to avoid spinning into the barrier at T19 in FP2.
In fact, their races were so quiet that it is impossible to say much more than that so hopefully they will be back and more competitive next season than they were at time throughout this year.
Race results: Kevin Magnussen – 14th, Romain Grosjean – 15th
Haas surely have to come away disappointed because after performing strongly in practice, they again encountered issues with the car performance when it mattered most, costing them vital positions in qualifying.
Neither drivers then had the hard tyre pace needed to challenge for points so 14th and 15th was the best that they could do, although Grosjean arguably was compromised by damage from a FP2 collision with Bottas.
Lack of race pace however has been the story of Haas’ season so I hope that they will bounce back next season if the Pirelli tyres suit their cars.
Race results: Robert Kubica – 19th, George Russell – 17th
Williams were no better this weekend than how they have performed throughout the season, although Russell did a brilliant job to whitewash Kubica 21-0 in qualifying after suffering from illness earlier this week.
Kubica however did get a better race start but Russell eventually overhauled him, underlining the difference in quality between both drivers which has been clear for the majority of this season.
2020 therefore can’t be any worse than this season as far as Williams are concerned with Nicholas Latifi now confirmed as Kubica’s replacement.
If missed the previous 20 rounds of this season, get up to date with our race reviews below along with our half-term report.