2018 Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.jpg

Welcome to the central discussion thread for the season closing 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.


21 races, one World Champion and plenty of controversy, action, excitement and disappointment – the 2018 Formula One season has been one of mixed emotions this year, and now the teams and drivers are set to line up for the final time this weekend… but who will end the year with bragging rights heading into the every increasingly short winter break?

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RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief, occasional YouTuber, commentator and broadcaster, with a passion for motorsport on both the real and virtual racetrack.

Paul Jeffrey

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THURSDAY PRESS CONFERENCE

PART ONE: DRIVERS - Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), Fernando ALONSO (McLaren), Lando NORRIS (2019 McLaren Driver), George RUSSELL (2019 Williams Driver)

PRESS CONFERENCE
Fernando, it’s you final grand prix, can you describe your emotions coming into the weekend, please?
Fernando ALONSO:
So far I think it’s a normal weekend. I think on Sunday it’s going to be different, when it gets a little bit more emotions. But right now, I landed like 10 hours ago from Japan. I’ve been racing last weekend in Shanghai and I’m not probably into the mood yet of this final race. It feels OK right now. As I said, it’s going to be special, emotional, and hopefully a good one.

Q: Lewis, on the subject of this being Fernando’s final grand prix. You’ve raced alongside him and against him. What kind of a rival has he been for you?
Lewis HAMILTON:
He’s been OK. We’ve had good times and bad times. I don’t really know what else to say. We’ve grown… he was obviously here before I was and achieved incredible things before I got here and also partly why I was here. It’s been a privilege to be in an era where he was racing

Q: Will you miss him?
LH:
Will I miss him? Yeah, I think the sport will miss him.

Q: Lando, you are going to be driving for McLaren in 2019 and you’ve been working with Fernando this year. What has he taught you?
Lando NORRIS:
He’s taught me quite a few things. One of the biggest things was working with him in Daytona, because I got to see a different side of him, I guess, working together. It’s not just some things. There are quite a few; a lot of stuff I can take through to my first year in Formula 1. And already, things I’ve taken into practice, into FP1s. There have been a lot of things I’ve been able to learn. We’ve had some good times. We get along really well and hopefully can continue in the future.

Q: And George, just a question for you about Fernando. You haven’t worked with him but was he a driver you followed closely when you were growing up?
George RUSSELL:
Yeah, 100%. Growing up as a young karter you always look towards Formula 1 and Fernando was in his prime at that time and always fighting for championships, so as Lewis said, the sport is going to miss him, but he is a fantastic driver.

Q: Fernando, you’ve said you’re not in the mood for reflections but what do you feel is your legacy?
FA:
I don’t know really. I think it’s difficult to say in the first person. I think I’ve been trying to do my best all the time here, fighting against anything or circumstance that may put some stress or put other people down. I was trying always to give my best and somehow working with the kids and the karting school, the museum, trying to do a lot of things with the fans and the young generation, trying to help them, if I can, with the knowledge I’ve had all these years and with facilities or something that I probably didn’t have at my time and if they have the dreams and the talent, try to help them.

Q: Thank you Fernando, good luck this weekend. Lewis, you’ve been a five-time champion for nigh on four weeks now. In terms of the championships you’ve won, where does 2018 rank?
LH:
I don’t know, hopefully somewhere around the top. I’ve not really thought about it too much, to be honest. I’ve been focusing on trying to finish off the season strong. But it does feel… you know me, I don’t have a great memory, but it does feel like one of the best years that I can remember, competition-wise and competitive-wise, in terms of performances.

Q: Thank you, good luck for the weekend ahead. Lando, coming back to you. As we’ve already said, a McLaren driver in 2019. Can you just paint a little picture for us about the preparations that are going to go on between now and Melbourne in March?
LN:
A lot! I think I’ve got a lot for myself to look forward. A lot of things that I haven’t done yet to prepare for that first race… the first test of course. Things I’m sure the team will be able to help me through, and guide me in many ways. So I look forward to it. I think there are a lot of things for me to be working on, which I’m very excited about. I’m sure I’m going to be busy. It's not going to be the easiest of winters. But whatever I can do to prepare myself for Australia, the first race… I’ve never been to Australia yet, so there are a lot of things for myself to do.

Q: And a lot of jetlag. Thank you Lando. George, coming to you, of course you’re going to be racing for Williams next year but you’ve got a championship to win first this weekend, the Formula 2 championship. You’ve got a big lead; just tell us about your approach coming into the weekend.
GR:
I don’t think my approach is going to change, to be honest. We’ve had a fantastic season, so there is no real reason to change the approach. Like you said, we have a very healthy margin, but anything can still happen and I think we've seen that throughout the whole season.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
Q: (David Tremayne – The Independent, Grand Prix Plus) Fernando, can you share some of you best memories from your time in Formula 1 with us.
FA:
Yeah, the season with Lewis, 2007. I don’t know, I think more than races or memories or victories, the best thing I have from the F1 time is the people that I worked with, the people that I shared half of my life with. I’m 37 and I raced here 18 years, it’s half of my life with a lot of talented engineers, designers, mechanics, you guys, the media, everyone. We shared a lot of days over the seasons and I think that’s the best thing that I will always remember about Formula 1. How you approached this kind of races, the philosophy behind a grand prix, the preparation, and the discipline in all areas of the team. Now, racing in other disciplines, other series, you realise that Formula 1 is a step higher and it’s just trying to find perfection in everything, every weekend, every two weeks, all around the world. This was probably the best memories I will get from here.

Q: (David Tremayne – The Independent, Grand Prix Plus) Is there one race where you found that ultimate perfection that stands out for you?
FA:
A few of them I think they were probably a little bit higher than others in terms of performing and executing the race. If one, I would say Valencia 2012, a race that probably in a normal world we would never be able to win again. If we repeated it 100 times, 99 of them we would not have ended up first. It was a good execution of a strategy, good overtakings, a lot of risk, bit everything worked well. The car was not particularly fast that weekend, we were not even in Q3. I think I lapped Felipe 10 laps to the end. It was not that we were in a dominant position that day but we still won it, so probably that race.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines, Racefans.net) Fernando, everybody speaks about Sunday’s race being your last grand prix, but you haven’t categorically ruled out returning to Formula 1. What would it take to bring you back, like champions such as Prost and Lauda did, they returned after retiring?
FA:
Right now it’s difficult to think about coming back but the door is not closed. The first reason is I don’t know how I will feel next year. I’ve been doing this for my whole life. Maybe next year, by April or May, I am desperate, on the sofa, so you know, maybe I find a way to somehow come back. But it’s not the initial idea. It’s more about myself. If I come back it’s not for any particularly or the line or something that has to happen, it’s more how I feel in the middle of next year.

Q: (Adrian Rodriguez Huber – Agencia EFE) Fernando, how proud does it make you, not only what you accomplished in this sport, but what you accomplished for Spain and for Asturias?
FA:
Definitely very proud. I think you only realise with time, when you see how many people follow the sport now in Spain, in my region in Asturias, how many people travel to Oviedo to visit the museum, to have the first go in go-karts. A lot of people started following Formula 1 and not Formula 1, motorsports in general, in my country, which definitely was not a tradition. We were not broadcasting the races in 2001, 2002, I think it started in the middle of 2003. Something that is unthinkable now, when Formula 1 is the second or third sport in Spain. That’s something that I feel really proud of, and the same with some of the things I had in Spain, the Premio Príncipe de Asturias is probably the biggest thing I achieved, even more than any Formula 1 championship, because that kind of award is about changing people’s lives and introducing a lot of people into one sport. So, those kinds of things are much bigger than any trophy.

Q: (Nate Saunders – ESPN) There are going to be a lot for Fernando, so Lewis I’ll give you one. I know you’ve said you don’t like talking too much about the past, but we’re doing something about the German Grand Prix from this year. You’ve said a lot about the conditions and the fortune, and how things came together for you that weekend. What was it you did that weekend that wrestled the initiative back after what happened that Saturday?
LH:
Jeez… Hockenheim… oh, where we had the issue of the failure in qualifying. I think it was really together, as a team… obviously we had the steering column failure on the Saturday, meaning that we would be starting from last, and I think we just pulled together and tried to make sure we could make the best of the Sunday, and all remained focused on getting a good result. I think it was just ultimately a true showing of the strength within the team. Even though we’d had a difficult day like that we pull together and look for other solutions to get us back up the front. That’s really what we worked for. As a driver, it was moving past the stumble, or the fall, and getting straight back up and fighting next day as if I was starting at the front. Obviously certain things came along the way in terms of weather and that was just an opportunity for me to capitalise rather than make mistakes. I just think as a driver, I was able to really maximise on that day, not making any mistakes I was able to pull myself further forward than perhaps I would on another weekend.

Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) A question to Lewis and Fernando. After eight years away Robert Kubica is back on the grid next year. You’ve both raced against Robert, I just wondered what your thoughts were on his return to the sport as a racing driver?
LH:
Is Robert younger or older than me.

(General response): He’s older than you.

LH: Oh, perfect! So, I’m so happy he’s coming back, because Fernando is leaving and I was going to be the second-oldest driver but now I still remain the third. I can’t tell you how happy I am about that. No, I think it’s great. I raced him from karting days so I’ve known him for a long, long time and he was always one of the most talented drivers that I had the pleasure of racing against. I know he has had a really difficult time over the last God knows how many years now, and it’s just great to see he’s got the opportunity back and I hope he works hard on his strength and getting his mind back into gear like he was in the past and I think it’s exciting for the sport to see him back in action.

Q: Fernando?
FA:
Yeah, not much to add. I think, as Lewis said, he is one the great talents the sport has had and it’s great to see him back to race. It remains to be seen what will be the performance of the car, and his own performance, because we only saw a couple of test days. But if he is at 100% he will be amazing to watch, so happy with him.

Q: And George, he’s going to be your team-mate next year. Your thoughts on Robert Kubica?
GR:
Yeah, I’m extremely excited to be team-mates with Robert. Obviously Lewis and Fernando have said how talented and fast he is, and there’s absolutely no doubt about that. But on top of that he is extremely intelligent, he’s got so much experience and I think he’s going to be a great addition to Williams and he’ll really help push Williams back to where they deserve and should be.
 

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Free Practice One Report

Red Bulls Charge in Opening Practice.
Abu Dhabi FP1.jpg

Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo set out their stall early at the Yas Marina circuit this morning, comprehensively setting the pace during first running.


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Provisional FP1 Result:
  1. Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:38.491 27
  2. Daniel Ricciardo RIC Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:38.945 +0.454s 19
  3. Valtteri Bottas BOT Mercedes 1:39.452 +0.961s 29
  4. Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes 1:39.543 +1.052s 26
  5. Esteban Ocon OCO Force India Mercedes 1:40.102 +1.611s 26
  6. Kevin Magnussen MAG Haas Ferrari 1:40.235 +1.744s 21
  7. Kimi Räikkönen RAI Ferrari 1:40.417 +1.926s 24
  8. Sebastian Vettel VET Ferrari 1:40.453 +1.962s 21
  9. Carlos Sainz SAI Renault 1:40.588 +2.097s 21
  10. Romain Grosjean GRO Haas Ferrari 1:40.663 +2.172s 24
  11. Pierre Gasly GAS Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 1:40.671 +2.180s 17
  12. Nico Hulkenberg HUL Renault 1:41.023 +2.532s 24
  13. Sergio Perez PER Force India Mercedes 1:41.075 +2.584s 23
  14. Brendon Hartley HAR Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 1:41.137 +2.646s 26
  15. Lance Stroll STR Williams Mercedes 1:41.493 +3.002s 22
  16. Antonio Giovinazzi GIO Sauber Ferrari 1:41.662 +3.171s 24
  17. Marcus Ericsson ERI Sauber Ferrari 1:41.928 +3.437s 22
  18. Stoffel Vandoorne VAN McLaren Renault 1:42.114 +3.623s 22
  19. Fernando Alonso ALO McLaren Renault 1:42.313 +3.822s 16
  20. Robert Kubica KUB Williams Mercedes 1:42.992 +4.501s 26
 
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BP

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Hey look everybody, we've made it to Saturday in an F1 GP thread without a pissing contest! ;)

Sadly, we've also made it to Saturday without a single comment...is it like this every year after the championship battles have been won?
 

BrainsBush

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I only saw FP2 and the performance of both RedBulls surprised me a bit (in a positive way obviously). Last chance for Max to take his first ever pole as youngest F1 driver. Will it happen? I personally hope for it but I don't think so....
Lewis driving with #1 means he has to win quali and the race.

Any other controversy this weekend? Hopefully they end the season with 'something' we did not expect. Be surprised?!

Anyways: Enjoy the race weekend!
 

Richard Hessels

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Looks like Renault put in the best parts of their engines for their last races with RedBull.
As a farewell present and to hurt them a bit extra for their leaving decision.
RB's performance with the Renault engine seems a bit more potent lately.
 

ZuneGuy

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Anthony Davidson thinks that even if Lewis were in the Ferrari he still would have won the championship, but man I'm glad he isn't in that car. I'd prefer to see him continue beating Ferrari, not driving for them. YUCK!!!
 

Fat-Alfie

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And Vettel remains the youngest pole sitter (for now), as the angry kid couldn't manage any better than 6th; the slowest of the top cars :whistling:
 
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Enagee

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Really sad Alonso is leaving, hoping this is the best race of the year,, championship and constructors are done, no team orders so expecting flat out racing. ....
 
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Bruce Banner

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I think the 'Bulls may have gone with a race-biased set up like in Brazil so could well come back into contention tomorrow .
 

Fat-Alfie

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Wasn't Verstappen blaming his poor qualifying performance on his tyres being too hot, though?
 

Bruce Banner

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Why is 6th in a Red Bull poor ? It's a significantly slower car than either the Mercedes or Ferrari . One of the guys that's impressed me most this season is LeClerc . His qualifying results in a Sauber this season have been nothing short of amazing . In a competitive car next season it may not just be Vettel that has to worry about him .