It’s a sad time, F1 fans.
Though the season may not have been the classic we dreamed of, it’s never easy to bid adieu to a season – especially considering that it’s sixteen weeks until lights out in Australia.
Watch the homepage soon for our Season wrap-up Badgerometer, but in the meantime, here’s what we picked out from the Abu Dhabi GP.
It’s quite bizarre just how different some of Sebastian Vettel’s Abu Dhabi GPs have been. He won the inaugural event in 2009 after Hamilton’s brakes failed, and took an unprecedented win in 2010 to seal the Drivers’ World Championship.
However in 2011 he suffered a first-corner puncture which eventually led to irreparable bodywork damage, and he retired. 2012 looked like a write-off, after running out of fuel in Qualifying, but he recovered to take a stunning third place and keep his championship hopes alive.
After a faultless win in 2013 at the tail end of his 9-race win streak, 2014 brought more issues as he and Ricciardo were deemed to have illegal front wings, and so a pit lane start beckoned, from which he could only muster eighth place.
And this weekend, in 2015, after a horrible miscalculation in Q1, Vettel found himself back in sixteenth place once more, but thanks to a great recovery drive, he finished fourth, making it his third drive through the field in the United Arab Emirates in four years.
As you probably know by now, Kimi is a complicated soul, who likes to leave his racing do the talking.
It’s not that he’s antisocial, but he just sort of saves his self for his family and friends. With that in mind, it was no surprise to see a less-than-enthusiastic wave to the crowd from the Iceman as he stepped up to the rostrum:
— F1Nova (@F1Nova) November 29, 2015
His arm moved with the rhythm of a pianist’s metronome in perfect tempo as his eyes glazed over looking out to the cheering crowds of the United Arab Emirates. Maybe that was the moment he realised it was just fruit juice and rosewater on the podium.
There’s a famous
cliche saying in sport journalism: “Form is temporary, class is permanent”.
Rosberg’s first string of three consecutive wins shows that Rosberg is more than capable of the dominant tendencies of his compatriot Sebastian Vettel, who, if you remember, would often saunter off into the lead of a Grand Prix during his Red Bull heyday, and never relinquish it.
Is this the first time we’ve seen Rosberg at his full potential? Who knows.
His three wins in Monaco are certainly not to be sniffed at, but it is somewhat easier to consider them slightly due to the Principality’s twisty nature. With nothing to lose after… well, losing the Championship in Austin, Rosberg has made the tail end of the season his own (totally predicted that after the USGP, FYI) and showed that he is very much in the fight for 2016.
The second-smiliest chap in Formula 1 is off to pastures new in 2016, joining Haas – or as he pronounces it, “arse”. The Lotus was never going to reach the lofty heights of the third place in Belgium this year, but RoGro can be proud of two more points in the bag.
He may have finished just outside the top ten in the drivers’ rankings, but those two points helped him stay ahead of Max Verstappen, and crucially helped ensure Lotus stayed ahead of Toro Rosso in the fight for sixth place in the championship.
As he gambles on a move to the second new American team in six years (and, God willing, the first of those to ACTUALLY build a car), Grosjean’s final race for Lotus will be remembered for two late overtakes on Sainz and Kvyat.
Also, in a wonderful gesture of handing over the baton, he gave some keys (we’ll assume not actually able to start an F1 car) to Jolyon Palmer. Welcome to the grid!
A spade is a spade. 2015 has been a simply awful season for McLaren.
While Ron Dennis, Yasuhisa Arai and Fernando Alonso have been taking shots at one another then gathering their composure to spin it positively, the Honda Power unit has been struggling along – according to Alonso, barely keeping pace with the GP2 engines.
However, it’s worth noting that in the latter stages of the race in Abu Dhabi, Alonso was told to turn his engine up to full power:
Con todos los condicionantes que le queráis poner, pero abren la puerta a la ilusión para 2016. pic.twitter.com/F6vApSbwC1
— El Abuelo F1 (@bueuF1) November 30, 2015
Could it be? The Honda PU, finally unleashed (no fear of penalties if that V6 goes kaput in the final race), set the third-fastest lap time of the race. It’s safe to say that the MP4-30 has been nowhere close to that pace all season, and much like how Rosberg’s three consecutive wins sets him up perfectly for winter testing and next season, Alonso, Honda and McLaren can go forth with an idea of the engine’s might if the stars align.
Couple this with the news that Stoffel Vandoorne just set the fastest time in the post-season tyre test -WITHOUT upgrades – and it’s party time at Woking.
With three months to sort out reliability, the future’s bright. And to mis-quote a phone company, let’s hope the paint job’s orange.