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Race Weekend Review – December 1, 2019: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Race Weekend Review – December 1, 2019: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

FIA F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina
• Hamilton leads every lap to win the season finale

Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Dec 1/19 (GRW): Lewis Hamilton won the pole for the race and he led every lap on his way to winning the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Hamilton had already won the 2019 driver’s title and Mercedes had long since clinched the manufacturer’s title so this race was a pure contest in its own right without the distraction of the championship question.

Max Verstappen finished second ahead of Charles Leclerc, Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel and Alexander Albon.

Verstappen had started in second place while Leclerc started on the second row in third place alongside his teammate Vettel. In qualifying, Bottas had been second fastest but he was forced to start at the back of the grid as a penalty for having replaced his power unit twice.

Before the start the scrutineer had reported that Leclerc’s No. 16 car was in violation of a rule concerning the declaration of the amount of fuel the car had on board to start the race – a difference of about six litres. The stewards chose to wait until the end of the race to consider this matter, leaving Leclerc to run the race without knowing whether or not he might be disqualified afterwards. In the end, the stewards opted to impose a €50,000 fine leaving Leclerc’s third-place finishing position unchanged.

At the start, when the lights changed, Hamilton shot out into the lead but Verstappen had a slow start and Leclerc got past into second place. Vettel and Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Albon were right behind in fourth and fifth place.

When the first round of pit stops took place on lap 12 and 13 of the 55-lap race, Verstappen got ahead of Leclerc with Hulkenberg running in fourth place. When Hulkenberg made his pit stop on lap 18, he came back out in tenth place. Hamilton and Verstappen, running one-two now, did not pit until lap 25/26 but by now they had enough of a lead that Hamilton held on to the lead and Verstappen only fell to third behind Leclerc. Verstappen regained second place on lap 34. Bottas had fought his way up from the back of the grid to fourth place by lap 39.

After that, the order of the front four remained the same to the finish. Albon had been running in fifth place but he was passed by Vettel for position with three laps to go.

“What a way to end the season!” said Hamilton. “As a team, as a whole, we’ve been very strong this weekend and Valtteri did a great job today as well. I’m just so grateful for everyone’s continued hard work and dedication this year, we continue to raise the bar together.”

All told this was not a very exciting race given Hamilton’s dominance. In addition, a technical glitch meant that the first several laps were run without the benefit of the DRS assistance, reminding us of how this somewhat artificial passing aid does help spice up the on-track racing action.

Canada’s Lance Stroll started in 12th place two grid positions behind his teammate Sergio Perez. In the race he soon started falling back and he ran in 18th place for several laps before retiring on lap 45. Meanwhile Perez was making significantly better pace. He was up into seventh place by lap 19 and that was where he finished.

On this weekend it was announced that another Canadian driver, Nicolas Latifi, who has been racing in the F2 series for the past three years, will be joining the Williams F1 team for next year, displacing Robert Kubica, to become George Russell’s teammate. This year in F2, he won four races and he finished the season in second place. Unfortunately, this year, the Williams team has struggled and their two drivers have ended up at the bottom of the points standings. Let’s hope the injection of this new driver will improve their results for 2020.

Click HERE for the results of the Abu Dhabi GP

Click HERE for the final end-of-season points standings.

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