Abu Dhabi? Abu Dullbi more like (not sure that really works, but we’re going with it anyway).
If you were describing the season finale to someone who hadn’t seen the race, you might say things like “Schumacher was nearly decapitated”, “Vettel and Hamilton dueled for much of the race”, “Alonso tried but couldn’t find a way past Petrov”. This makes it sound vaguely exciting. It wasn’t.
The circumstance was exciting – four drivers for the title, Red Bull tensions and the spectacular venue. Sadly, however, the track appears to have been designed specifically to prohibit overtaking, which made a bit of a mockery of all the hype.
- Qualifying: Vettel (1st) Webber (5th)
- Race: Vettel (1st) Webber (8th)
Sebastian Vettel: World Champion. While it may not have surprised anyone in the sport or regular watchers of F1, it still sounds a bit weird. We think it’s probably that there were so many people in the title race for so long that it doesn’t really feel…real.
It was another great performance from the young German from pole, but we can’t help feeling he hasn’t really scrapped for it this season. Most of the races he wins, he does so from the front – whisper it, but is he just a much improved version of Ralf Schumacher?
During the race, his only competition was Lewis Hamilton who, while he was able to get close, wasn’t able to get close enough to try to pass. After the pit stops, having two cars separating him from Hamilton ended the race completely. From then on it was a drive to the flag and glory.
Webber had a dreadful weekend. Fifth on Saturday in qualifying and then stuck behind those cars that pitted early in the race after the safety car meant that his world championship challenge dissolved into nothing. This was probably his best shot at winning the world title and it didn’t quite happen. A real shame for a driver who’s had such a strong season.
On another note, in Badger’s esteemed view, there’s no way that, had the drivers’ situations been reversed, Webber would have been given equal treatment. The only reason equal treatment was given was because it favoured Vettel.
Webber’s stuck in between a rock and a hard place – de facto number two in a world championship winning team, but with no other top team to go to. He’ll stay, but we predict more fireworks next season.
Badger’s best: Vettel
- Qualifying: Hamilton (2nd) Button (4th)
- Race: Hamilton (2nd) Button (3rd)
A strong performance from McLaren in the final race of the season, but it’s just a shame their title challenge was effectively over a while ago.
With the Red Bull the dominant car on the grid, McLaren have been consistently working around their relative lack of pace to get results. Interesting strategies won them a few races earlier in the season, as did some great driving.
Hamilton was very close to Vettel in qualifying and nearly dethroned the boy king, but just didn’t have quite enough to get close to pass. That said, this being Abu Dhabi, he could have been running a millimetre away from Vettel’s exhaust and still not been able to pass.
Button looked very relaxed all weekend and managed to run a quite frankly astonishing 40 laps on the soft tyres, meaning that if he’d wanted to he probably could have had a crack at Hamilton.
A good, but not spectacular, first season for Button; it looks like Hamilton is quicker, but Button will doubtless be there or thereabouts next season.
Badger’s best: Hamilton
- Qualifying: Schumacher (8th) Rosberg (9th)
- Race: Rosberg (4th) Schumacher (ret)
A solid weekend for the Mercedes team, made all the more satisfactory by the fact Schumacher didn’t have his head removed by Liuzzi’s flying Force India.
After out qualifying his team mate, he would have been looking forward to a productive race in a venue he described as “fantastic”. Sadly, however, it all ended on the first lap when, from either the lightest of touches from Rosberg or simply spinning by himself, he was crashed into by Liuzzi. Not ideal, but the veteran German was lucky to escape unscathed.
Rosberg was the main beneficiary of pitting from behind the safety car, from which point he was able to get rid of the soft tyres he didn’t like and go for the rest of the race on the harder compound. He was untroubled throughout (mostly thanks to having Petrov as his impromptu rear gunner) and sailed home in fourth.
A team to watch next year.
Badger’s best: Rosberg
- Qualifying: Petrov (10th) Kubica (11th)
- Race: Kubica (5th) Petrov (6th)
The main spoilers in the race this weekend, both Petrov and Kubica had a large impact on the way the action unfolded.
After out qualifying his team mate for only the second time this season, Petrov drove a very good race. Well, one that didn’t contain any mistakes, anyway.
After his early pit stop behind the safety car, he managed to hold up Alonso and Webber for most of the race and, for all Alonso’s bluster during the warm down lap, the young Russian didn’t do anything wrong or even have to defend that hard. He just let the track do all his defending for him.
Kubica, after starting outside the top 10 for the first time this season, ran long and held up Hamilton after the leaders had pitted. After that, he managed to pit and come out in fifth. A great drive from someone Badger has gained a lot more respect for this season.
In other news, it appears Petrov might be retained for next season. He’s not done much to deserve it, but he must be coming with a massive wad of cash. Massive. Let’s just hope he improves and gets more consistent. Not too much to ask then…
Badger’s best: Kubica
Driver graphics courtesy of Unlap