The Formula 1 season comes to a close with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the ninth running of the now-traditional season-ending event.
Lewis Hamilton, fresh from his solid run from the pit lane to fourth place in Brazil, will be looking to end the season in style, but he will not have it easy. Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and teammate Valtteri Bottas all have their own reasons for wanting to end the season on a high note. However, since the introduction of the V6 hybrid units in 2014, Mercedes has gone unbeaten in Abu Dhabi.
Various championship battles will be decided on Sunday but, realistically, the only real battle left is for fourth place — Kimi Raikkonen is just seven points behind Daniel Ricciardo for that spot in the drivers’ standings. If Raikkonen can extend his current run of three consecutive third-place finishes, Ricciardo will need to finish inside the top six.
Abu Dhabi will mark the final Grand Prix with full open-cockpit Formula 1 racing and, to many fans, that’s a sad thing. Since its inception, F1 has been pure open-cockpit racing, and even though the cockpits won’t be completely closed, the addition of the ‚Halo‘ safety device will be a change that will take some getting used to for both drivers and fans.
Just enjoy the final runout before the face of F1 changes.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by the numbers
2009 – The year of the first official Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
8 – The number of official Abu Dhabi Grands Prix
3 – Lewis Hamilton (2011, 2014 and 2016) and Sebastian Vettel (2009, 2010 and 2013) have the best success rate in Abu Dhabi
3 – Red Bull (2009, 2010 and 2013) and Mercedes (2014, 2015 and 2016) are the most successful manufacturers in Abu Dhabi
55 – Number of laps in the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
3.45 miles – Length of the Yas Marina Circuit
1:40.279 – Fastest lap (Sebastian Vettel, 2009)
35.1 feet – Elevation change
At last year’s race, Nico Rosberg finally clinched what ended up being his only world championship title. Trailing Hamilton in second for most of the race, Rosberg had to keep his focus as he was slowly backed into the chasing pack of Vettel and Ricciardo.
The Mercedes pit wall was focused on giving Hamilton the victory, and team officials issued multiple instructions for Hamilton to increase his pace. These were duly ignored, but it made no difference to the final outcome.
Just one week after winning the championship, Rosberg announced his F1 retirement, meaning that for the first time since Alain Prost retired at the end of the 1993 season, the champion would not be returning to defend the title.