Hamilton ends the season with Abu Dhabi victory

Five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton ended this epic Formula 1 season by dominating the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which featured a dramatic first-lap crash for Nico Hulkenberg.

Hamilton ran the longest second stint of any driver after pitting under an early virtual safety car period, but he remained comfortably clear of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to the flag.

Max Verstappen overcame an early engine scare and resisted his charging Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to finish third and deny the honey badger a podium on his final race for the team before switching to Renault next season.

Hamilton held his advantage from pole but the race was neutralised after only half a lap thanks to Hulkenberg’s accident.

The Renault driver attacked Romain Grosjean into Turn 9, the left-hander at the end of the first long back straight, but Grosjean hung on around the outside as he was forced to the edge of the track.

Hulkenberg turned in to the apex of the right-hander that immediately follows and was hit Grosjean’s front-left, which pitched the Renault into a barrel roll.

It came to a rest upside down against the outside barrier, briefly caught fire, and the unhurt Hulkenberg had to wait for trackside staff to arrive and reposition the car before he could extract himself.

Hamilton nailed the restart at the end of the fourth lap to lead team-mate Valtteri Bottas by more than a second over the line.

The leader stopped early, on lap seven of 55, when Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari switched off exiting the final corner and stopped on the start-finish line, sparking a virtual safety car.

Bottas and Vettel stayed out, with only Charles Leclerc – running a stunning fourth after jumping both Red Bulls on the opening lap and passing Raikkonen’s ailing Ferrari – and seventh-place man Romain Grosjean following Hamilton into the pits.

Bottas, Vettel and Ricciardo extended their stint on ultrasofts and Verstappen tried to make his hypersofts last as long as possible.

Ricciardo and Verstappen were given engine warnings early on by Red Bull but these passed and were traced to “unexpected power unit protection”, suggesting a failsafe had briefly been erroneously activated.

Bottas pitted nine laps after Hamilton and rejoined nine seconds adrift, and although Hamilton complained about his tyres, he was able to maintained a relatively comfortable gap.

Hamilton was still six seconds or so clear of Bottas when his team-mate lost his grip on second place thanks to some problems under braking.

A lock up at Turn 5 and then the end of the first long back straight allowed Vettel to steal second on lap 35, and then three laps later a smaller mistake at the same place let Verstappen get a run on Bottas down the second back straight and pass him – with a bit of wheel bumping – through the little chicane that follows.

One lap later Bottas lost another place to Ricciardo, who had led for a while thanks to extending his first stint to lap 33, and Mercedes decided to pit Bottas for fresh tyres after spotting a possible problem after the Verstappen contact.

Though Bottas’s troubles freed up Vettel to attack Hamilton, and hack the gap down to 2.5 seconds at the flag, he never got close enough to trouble the leader.

Victory was Hamilton’s eleventh of the season, matching his best-ever haul from a single campaign.

By keeping Ricciardo at bay for third, Verstappen was able to nick ahead of Bottas for fourth in the drivers’ championship.

Bottas finished his winless season with a distant fifth, ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr.

Sainz ended his time with Renault with a best-of-the-rest victory earned by virtue of a long first stint, that allowed him to overhaul Leclerc’s Sauber.

Leclerc had to survive pressure from Racing Point Force India driver Sergio Perez to hold onto seventh, while Haas duo Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen completed the top ten.

Fernando Alonso finished just outside the top ten on his likely final Formula 1 appearance, despite picking up two five-second penalties late on for a track limits offence when he cut the chicane at the end of the first backstraight.

Three drivers joined Hulkenberg and Raikkonen in not making it to the finish.

Marcus Ericsson’s stint with Sauber ended in retirement after running in the points early on, before Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly retired within two laps of each other with smoke coming from their respective cars.

And so ends Formula 1 2018. It has been an epic season full of drama and excitement. Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes ending the season on a high with victory.

As for Fernando Alonso, thanks for the memories. It won’t be the same without the double title winner on the grid next season.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, race results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 55 1h39m40.382s
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 55 2.581s
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 55 12.706s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 55 15.379s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 55 47.957s
6 Carlos Sainz Renault 55 1m12.548s
7 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 55 1m30.789s
8 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 55 1m31.275s
9 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 54 1 Lap
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 54 1 Lap
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 54 1 Lap
12 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso-Honda 54 1 Lap
13 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 54 1 Lap
14 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 54 1 Lap
15 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 54 1 Lap
– Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 46 Retirement
– Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 44 Retirement
– Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 24 Retirement
– Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 6 Retirement
– Nico Hulkenberg Renault 0 Collision

Drivers’ standings:
1 Lewis Hamilton 408
2 Sebastian Vettel 320
3 Kimi Raikkonen 251
4 Max Verstappen 249
5 Valtteri Bottas 247
6 Daniel Ricciardo 170
7 Nico Hulkenberg 69
8 Sergio Perez 62
9 Kevin Magnussen 56
10 Carlos Sainz 53
11 Fernando Alonso 50
12 Esteban Ocon 49
13 Charles Leclerc 39
14 Romain Grosjean 37
15 Pierre Gasly 29
16 Stoffel Vandoorne 12
17 Marcus Ericsson 9
18 Lance Stroll 6
19 Brendon Hartley 4
20 Sergey Sirotkin 1

Constructors’ standings:
1 Mercedes 655
2 Ferrari 571
3 Red Bull-Renault 419
4 Renault 122
5 Haas-Ferrari 93
6 McLaren-Renault 62
7 Force India-Mercedes 52
8 Sauber-Ferrari 48
9 Toro Rosso-Honda 33
10 Williams-Mercedes 7

8 thoughts to “Hamilton ends the season with Abu Dhabi victory”

  1. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race review as reported by Formula1.com.

    As it played in their championship battle this year too, Sebastian Vettel was forced to play second fiddle to an imperious Lewis Hamilton at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale as the Mercedes driver took his 11th win of the season, enjoying a serene performance that perfectly reflected his majestic run to his fifth title this year.

    Strong from the very start of the race, having recorded his 11th pole position of the year on Saturday, Hamilton benefitted from an early switch to supersoft tyres under a Virtual Safety Car – brought out after Kimi Raikkonen was forced to retire on lap seven in his final race for Ferrari – before biding his time to re-inherit the lead and sweep to his 83rd career victory.

    Behind him, Vettel had a lonely run to second place, after dispatching Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas mid-race, while he was followed home by the Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo, Ricciardo unable to claim that podium he so dearly wanted in his 100th and final race for Red Bull before he moves to Renault. Bottas ended up fifth.

    Carlos Sainz, in his own last race for Renault before switching to McLaren, enjoyed a strong run to sixth place to help Renault to seal fourth place in the constructors’ title, while his team mate Nico Hulkenberg fared less well, clashing with Romain Grosjean on lap one and barrel rolling into the barriers, although fortunately not suffering any ill effects from the ugly looking incident.

    Charles Leclerc was seventh in his final outing for Sauber before he moves to Ferrari for 2019, ahead of the Force India of Sergio Perez and the Haas of Grosjean in ninth – who managed to continue after his first-lap brush with Hulkenberg.

    Kevin Magnussen’s run to 10th denied Fernando Alonso the chance to up his points tally in his final Grand Prix before retiring, the McLaren driver employing some questionable cornering techniques in the final part of the race – and getting a five-second penalty for his troubles – in his bid to get after the Dane, but ultimately ending up 11th in his 311th race.

    Meanwhile apart from Raikkonen, Force India’s Esteban Ocon, Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly and Sauber’s Marcus Ericcson all retired from their last races with their respective teams due to technical trouble.

    Both Mercedes drivers made incisive starts off the line, Hamilton gapping Bottas while the power of Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari helped him to pass the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo for fifth place. Max Verstappen, meanwhile, bogged down on his getaway and dropped to 10th – slotting in neatly behind his Brazilian Grand Prix sparring partner Esteban Ocon.

    Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg were squabbling on lap one, and as the Haas and Renault pair ducked and dived around each other through Turns 8 and 9, Hulkenberg attempted to swipe across the front of the Frenchman. He appeared to misjudge Grosjean’s track position, however, and as he pulled right, he clipped the Haas and was sent spectacularly rolling towards the barriers, ending up upside down and with worrying licks of flame emanating from his R.S.18. As the world anxiously watched, there was relief when Hulkenberg’s radio message finally played out: “Holy f*** I’m hanging here like a cow!” Phew…

    Nonetheless, it had been a big shunt and necessitated a Safety Car. When racing resumed, Hamilton’s restart was lightning, as he and Bottas quickly gapped the Ferraris of Vettel and Raikkonen behind them. Behind, Ocon and Verstappen were lapping deliciously closely. At the Turn 7 hairpin Verstappen lunged bravely down the inside of the Frenchman. He made the pass stick, but was outdragged by both Ocon and Sergio Perez down the next straight, before he snuck back past Perez.

    The next lap, Verstappen repeated the move on Ocon into Turn 7, this time adding a wheel-on-wheel love tap for good measure, before ultimately make the move stick following a little more needling between the pair. Justice for Brazil, is presumably what Verstappen was thinking as he accelerated off in eighth place.

    That became seventh a lap later when Kimi Raikkonen pulled his Ferrari to the side on the start/finish straight, the display screen on his Ferrari a darker shade of black, a sad end for the Finn in his final race for the Scuderia before he heads to Sauber for 2019. Raikkonen’s stricken car brought out the Virtual Safety Car, and leader Hamilton took the opportunity to dive into the pits for the hardest supersoft tyres, emerging in fifth place on lap eight of 55. There was still a long way to go – had Mercedes blinked too soon?

    Up and down the grid, there were enjoyable fights to be found, meanwhile, Marcus Ericsson enjoying a fun dice with the Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly before his sickly Sauber flew the white flag in what looks set to be the Swede’s final Grand Prix, while Ocon and Sainz were battling over P7.

    By lap 23, it was the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo leading the race, the Australian opting to try and long-stint his ultrasoft tyres, while team mate Verstappen had dived into the pits for supersofts on lap 18, emerging in fifth behind his team mate and the other pitted cars of Hamilton, Bottas, and Vettel. It was now that the cameras started to pick out a lesser spotted sight in Abu Dhabi – real genuine rain, albeit not enough to bring out the green-walled intermediates, or even to significantly alter lap times, plus a lick or two of lightning for good measure.

    Ricciardo threw in the towel with his ultrasofts on lap 34, not deep enough into the race to allow him to run the super quick hypersofts and instead meaning he had to put on the slowest supersofts. That brought him out in fifth place, eight seconds off his team mate Verstappen in P4. Up ahead on lap 35, Vettel took advantage of a Bottas lock-up into Turns 5 and 6 – a place he’d locked up even making his way around to the grid – the German breezing past the Finn for second and setting off after Hamilton, while a second lock-up for Bottas, brought him into the clutches of Verstappen, while allowing Ricciardo to close up.

    On lap 38, another error for Bottas allowed Verstappen to nip through in Turn 12, the pair briefly touching wheels, while the fast-approaching Ricciardo slipped through on the Finn a lap later, the Red Bulls now third and fourth, Bottas fifth. Mercedes brought the Finn in a few laps later, alarmed by something they’d spotted on his right-rear tyres and effectively signalling the end of his 2018 challenge.

    With just a handful of laps to go, the strain of the season proved too much for Ocon and Gasly’s cars, Ocon’s giving up the ghost in the pit lane entry, while Gasly pulled off to side of the track with oil pouring from his STR13.

    Up front there were no such problems for Lewis Hamilton. It was a smooth evening drive for the five-time champion as he breezed to his 11th victory of the year – the chequered flag flown by Will Smith – while he was followed home by the Ferrari of Vettel, the German having had an anonymous run to second after ultimately not quite having the pace to challenge for the lead. Max Verstappen overcame some engine braking worries in the final laps – which brought about a terse exchange with his engineer – to finish on the podium for his fifth race in a row, the Dutchman clearly not feeling generous enough to take his foot off the gas and let Ricciardo make his final rostrum appearance for the team.

    Bottas finishing fifth resulted in Kimi Raikkonen taking third in the drivers’ standings, meaning that he’ll need to head to St Petersberg in Russia for the FIA awards, while Bottas takes the unwanted mantle of being the first Mercedes driver to finish a season without a win since Michael Schumacher in 2012. Carlos Sainz put in a fine performance to take ‘best of the rest’ and push Renault over the line to fourth in the constructors’ standings, their best placing since returning to Formula 1 in 2016.

    Having run ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in a straight fight in the first few laps of the race, the ever-impressive Charles Leclerc had to settle for seventh in his final race before he moves to Ferrari, while for Fernando Alonso, points were a step too far in what could well be his last ever Grand Prix. He tried hard to get after the 10th placed Haas of Kevin Magnussen, but the stewards judged him to have tried too hard, the Spaniard gaining an advantage as he repeatedly locked-up and ran over the chichane in his pursuit of the Dane in the final few laps. That meant he was handed a five-second penalty that resigned him to an 11th placed finish.

    As Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel lined up on the start/finish straight and launched into a series of smoking donuts that delighted the crowd, the 2018 season reached its close. Hamilton had been the best man on the day in Abu Dhabi, and you’d be hard-pushed to argue that he hadn’t been the best driver across the year too, with early championship-leader Vettel falling a step behind as the season wore on.

    For Alonso, meanwhile, there were fitting tributes and meaningful embraces as he was interviewed alongside the top three finishers, the drivers in no doubt that a very special driver was walking away from the sport after 17 drama-filled seasons. There were goodbyes up and down the grid, too, as many of the drivers prepared for new chapters in their racing lives. For now, though, it was time for the weary drivers and teams to take a well-earned break at the end of what has been a fantastic 2018 season.

  2. Daniel Ricciardo says his alternative strategy that allowed him to lead part of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix left him “out of reach” in the lead battle at the end.

    The Red Bull driver led 17 laps during the middle phase of the race, as he stayed out longer than the other frontrunning cars.

    While it was hoped that a tyre-life advantage at the end would allow Ricciardo to charge through the field at the end, he was only able to pick off a struggling Valtteri Bottas for fourth, missing out on a farewell podium with the team that nurtured his career into F1.

    “It wasn’t the most exciting race,” Ricciardo told TV crews afterwards. “I led a bit, that was fun, but it just put me out of reach then with the leaders.

    “I don’t know if we had many options. We could have pitted early and kept track position. It’s always hard to know.”

    Race winner Lewis Hamilton was the only frontrunner that pitted under an early virtual safety car period and made his tyres last to the end, and that tyre life for the supersoft compound prevented Ricciardo being able to make more progress.

    “Lewis pitted really early, and I don’t think anyone thought that would go to the end so strongly,” said Ricciardo.

    “I was just a bit helpless at the end, I couldn’t really do much. The pace advantage [on new tyres] initially was strong then it fell away quite quickly. We just weren’t quick enough.

    “I would have loved a podium. I can’t be ecstatic with fourth, to be honest. I was a bit lonely the last few laps. I couldn’t really do much more.”

    While Ricciardo was unable to perform his ‘shoey’ podium celebration one last time with Red Bull, he hinted it could take place later in the evening.

    “A third and fourth for the team is solid, and we close this chapter now, so thanks to Red Bull and the whole Red Bull family,” he said.

    “I would have loved to drink out of my shoe, but we’ll see, there’s still a few hours to go!

    “As a whole the time here was good, some amazing memories, and a lot of things I’m sure I’ll reflect on in a few hours.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  3. Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg “couldn’t see” Romain Grosjean before airborne crash. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Nico Hulkenberg “couldn’t see” Romain Grosjean as they clashed on the opening lap of the Abu Dhabi race, which sent the Renault Formula 1 driver into his spectacular airborne accident.

    The duo were fighting over seventh place as they approached the Turn 8/9 chicane at the end of the Yas Marina circuit’s main straight.

    They both locked up and went deep into Turn 8, but Grosjean remained on Hulkenberg’s right-hand side for the apex of Turn 9 and they touched wheels – sending the German driver into a dramatic series of flips towards the barriers on the edge of the track.

    “[It was] very disappointing but I think we have to put it down as a racing incident,” Hulkenberg told Sky Sports after the race.

    “Racing Romain into Turn 8 – we both locked up, I went wide, he went even wider so I thought he ran off the track and I had Turn 9 to myself that’s why I went for the apex.

    “But obviously he was still there and wheels made contact and the rest we’ve seen – just a couple of flips, which obviously look spectacular but nothing really dramatic.

    “It looked spectacular, [but] not a hard crash – no heavy G impact – so no problem from that point of view.

    “[It’s] unfortunate I didn’t see Romain. We both raced hard into Turn 8, both late on the brakes.

    “I couldn’t see him – he was in my blindspot and the rest is history.

    “Still, disappointing because it’s a long build-up of a race weekend and to be out so quickly is just always very hard to swallow and frustrating.”

    Hulkenberg remained in his wrecked car – saying he was “hanging here like a cow” over his team radio – before it was safely overturned by marshals, who extinguished a small fire at the rear.

    When asked if his car’s halo had stopped him squeezing out of the wreckage, Hulkenberg replied: “I don’t know, to be honest right now, if the halo blocked me or not.

    “To the right I had the barrier anyway and then there was a very small gap.

    “You know when you are upside down, it’s not so easy to find all the buttons and all the things because everything feels very different.

    “It was the first time for me also to end up in the car on the roof. I was just sitting tight waiting for the marshals and they reacted very quickly and got me out.”

  4. Mercedes driver and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton admitted that Will Smith “completely changed” his pre-race pattern. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton says recording videos with film star Will Smith “completely changed” his pre-race pattern and added to an “unconventional” Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend.

    Smith was a guest of Hamilton’s Mercedes team this weekend and the duo recorded a light-hearted video in the build-up to the race where Hamilton was tied to a chair by the rapper/actor, who then walked into the garage in his own race suit and Hamilton’s crash helmet.

    Hamilton went on to control the race from pole position but said he was a little wary of joking around in the time he usually reserves to prepare.

    “It’s been an unconventional weekend,” said Hamilton. “Yesterday morning I was filming something with FIFA and Sony, and then this morning doing stuff with Will.

    “Will is the original ‘hype man’. He’s hype. He creates a lot of energy. He’s like a big brother to me, so we were doing some filming and stuff which was literally 10 minutes before we got in the car.

    “We were doing some fun filming, which I never, ever do because that’s usually the period of time where I get ready.

    “So I was a little bit, going into the race, like, ‘Jeez, I’ve completely changed my pattern’, if there is a usual relaxing period.

    “But I got a great start and then after it was really standard.”

    Hamilton’s victory took him to 11 wins for the season, matching his best-ever tally for a single campaign in the face of increased opposition for Ferrari.

    Though the five-time world champion’s exploits this weekend continued a theme of Hamilton breaking away from conventional F1 driver behaviour, he made it clear he expects “nothing but perfection”.

    “That’s what we strive for as a team,” said Hamilton. “We’ve done an exceptional job all year, it’s a real privilege to work with these guys and be able to raise them up at the end of the year.

    “I’m happy to finish on a high. Seb was driving really well through the race, putting in some great laps, and it got so tricky at the end with the wind but I think it was the same for all of us.”

    Hamilton ended his “unconventional” weekend by celebrating topless on the podium having pulled down the top half of his race suit.

    He explained that he did so to showcase the tattoo he has of his ‘Still I Rise’ motto at the top of his back.

    “It didn’t go as I thought it would go,” Hamilton admitted.

  5. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen blinded by oil from Pierre Gasly’s Honda engine. Motorsport.com has the story.

    Max Verstappen says oil from Pierre Gasly’s failing Honda Formula 1 engine left him with a “horrible” lack of vision in the closing laps of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    The Red Bull driver, whose team switches from Renault to Honda power for next year, was behind his 2019 teammate Gasly’s Toro Rosso as it started to smoke late in the race.

    Verstappen had already used all his visor tear-offs by that stage, and could do nothing to improve his visibility.

    “It was a bit of oil, I don’t know what happened there,” Verstappen told Sky Sports after the race.

    “I already went through all my tear-offs and there was so much oil on my visor it was like driving through fog, it was horrible.

    “I was [trying to wipe it with his glove] but it made it worse so I just stayed off it.

    “I asked the team, ‘Where is Daniel [Ricciardo, behind], I can’t see him in the mirrors, nothing’.”

    Despite witnessing Gasly’s failure up close, Verstappen added he was convinced Honda already has more power than Renault, and he praised the manufacturer’s aggressive approach to development that has resulted in Toro Rosso taking several grid penalties for engine changes.

    Asked about Honda’s reliability, he said: “I think this year has already been pretty good, they have taken a lot of engines just because they could, because they were at the back or something happened.

    “I prefer, sometimes, maybe to win a race and then blow up in one than always be consistently slow.

    “It looks all very promising but I want to be realistic and just wait.

    “First we need to build a great car, and then the engine should be reliable as well, and powerful.

    “I think it will be there, but we fist have to do the winter testing and then we’ll see.”

  6. This was not the ideal end for Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas. The Finn commented that his Abu Dhabi Grand Prix mirrored his campaign by “turning to s**t”. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas says his Abu Dhabi Grand Prix mirrored his 2018 Formula 1 season as a whole, as it started off promisingly before “everything turned to s**t”.

    The Finn had locked out the front row with teammate Lewis Hamilton in qualifying, and kept second place behind the champion at the start.

    But while his pace in the opening stint was solid, he faded after switching to the supersofts, falling behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and the two Red Bull cars.

    “I think overall the race sums up the season quite well – started off quite well and then everything turns to s**t,” Bottas said.

    “I had initially a lock-up into Turn 5, when Sebastian got close, and then he got DRS and overtook me.

    “I thought it was purely my mistake – which in the end it was – but the wind suddenly turned around, so for the wind I would’ve had to brake a bit earlier. Fair enough.

    “At the same time, the team could find on the rear right brake some vibration and some issue, so sometimes the front brakes had to work harder than the rear brakes to compensate and that meant there were sudden lock-ups.

    “Same thing happened when I went straight [at Turn 8] and Verstappen got close. So we still need to investigate what was exactly the issue with the brakes.”

    When queried about the Finn’s underwhelming race, team boss Toto Wolff confirmed that “some odd braking behaviour” was observed on the right rear of Bottas’ car, adding that it seemed to improve after the second stop.

    “So, before actually making a comment on performance I would rather see all the data,” he said.

    Verstappen and Bottas had made contact when the former pulled off an aggressive move for third place, and Bottas said this left his W09 with “some floor damage”.

    He pitted for the second time soon after, but would continue to lose time after rejoining the track on fresher tyres and ended up 48 seconds behind his race-winning teammate.

    Having come off worse in the Verstappen clash, Bottas nonetheless took no issue with the Ducthman’s driving.

    “It’s just racing. We both wanted to gain the position.

    “Yeah, we did touch, I was the one who lost there, as I lost the position and also I had floor damage and we had to do a pitstop also in the end.

    “But for me it was racing.”

  7. FIA race director Charlie Whiting says Nico Hulkenberg’s halo did not compromise the Renault Formula 1 driver’s extraction following his first-lap crash in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    Hulkenberg’s car came to rest upside down, leaning against the barrier at the outside of the Turn 8/9 chicane, after he was sent into a series of flips by his clash with Romain Grosjean.

    The policy in such circumstances is to wait for the car to be righted before trying to get the driver out.

    But the length of time it took for Hulkenberg to emerge from the wreckage led some observers to suggest that the halo had made it harder for him to get out.

    Whiting stressed that Hulkenberg actually had more space because of the way the halo supports the whole cockpit.

    “Quite clearly that’s one of the sort of accidents the halo was designed to help with,” Whiting said when asked by about the situation by Motorsport.com.

    “It provides more space for the driver once the car is upside down. That was one of the things we wanted to make sure was still possible [during the prove-out phase for the halo].

    “When you have an accident like that the radio from the car is automatically routed to race control so we get immediate information.

    “Drivers normally say ‘I’m OK’ or ‘I’m fine,’ and we relay that to the doctors on their way to the scene. Then they can take their time to get the car righted and let him get out.”

    When asked about any criticism of the situation on Sunday, Whiting added: “We knew he was OK and there was nothing to worry about there.

    “So the routine under those circumstances is to put the car back on its wheels, which has to be done carefully of course.

    “Once back on its wheels he was able to get out by himself.

    “It was very controlled from what I could see, and our medical delegate was more than happy with the way it was done. It all worked exactly as it should.”

    Renault F1 executive director Marcin Budkowski, who was working for the FIA while the halo was being developed, agreed that situation was handled correctly.

    “In my previous life in the FIA there were a lot of questions as to whether it would be negative,” he told Motorsport.com.

    “It gives the driver a lot more space. Waiting to turn the car over is the general policy, and that was the case before the halo.

    “Obviously there was some amount of fire in the car that had to be extinguished. If it wasn’t possible, then I think it was a different story, and they probably would have extracted him.

    “Once the fire is out, effectively there is no risk to the driver, the driver speaks and he’s not hurt, the safest thing is to flip the car.

    “If you ask Nico it probably didn’t happen quickly enough, but it was still the right thing to do.”

    Source: Motorsport.com

  8. The sport’s governing body were left feeling bemused by Fernando Alonso cutting corners “three laps in a row”. Motorsport.com has the details.

    FIA race director Charlie Whiting believes the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix stewards were “surprised” by Fernando Alonso cutting the track three times in quick succession in the race.

    Trying to catch Kevin Magnussen for 10th place in what is currently poised to be his farewell F1 appearance, Alonso cut the track in Turns 8 and 9 on three occasions – with the notification of the offences timed at 18:47, 18:51 and 18:52 local.

    Each time the stewards added five seconds to his race time, and gave him a penalty point on his licence.

    In the end the total of 15 seconds total did not impact Alonso’s 11th-place finish.

    Whiting said no consideration was given by the stewards to a more serious penalty, such as a black flag, for the repeated offending.

    “I think they were surprised it happened three laps in a row,” said Whiting when asked by Motorsport.com. “And they just gave him a penalty each time.

    “It was the end of the race, and I don’t think it would have been very nice to give someone like Fernando a black flag in his last race, do you? I don’t think the black flag was ever discussed.”

    Alonso said he had tried as hard as he could to make progress in his final race.

    “We tried, we gave it all on track,” he said. “We were fighting with the two Haas until the last couple of corners.

    “It was a nice weekend, and also the in-lap was very emotional. It was a very touching weekend from F1, from my team, from the fans. I had a lot of support and a lot of respect and I feel honoured.”

    Alonso ran in formation with race winner Lewis Hamilton and runner-up Sebastian Vettel after the chequered flag, the trio then performing donuts on the main straight.

    “It was very nice. I appreciate it,” Alonso said. “It was improvised because they were doing donuts in other corners and I drove by and I saw them driving to the right and left of me and we drive that way until the finish line.

    “I’m thankful. They are two great champions, with Max [Verstappen] too, and it’s possibly battles that I will miss. So, in the end I think it was a good day.”

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