June 15, 2024

F1: Abu Dhabi GP Takeaways

Photo Courtesy of Formula One

After eight months of travel, racing, rumors, and the Dutch national anthem, Formula One arrived at the conclusion of the 2022 season. Last year’s finale was intense and controversial, but many of this year’s results had already been decided.

Immediate reaction

The beginning laps of the race looked like it might be more interesting than it ended up. There was tension as Carlos Sainz battled with the Mercedes cars, even making contact with Lewis Hamilton. But after some back and forth, it became clear that Mercedes really didn’t have enough to pose a threat to Ferrari. That battle for second in the constructor’s championship felt sealed up early. 

Max Verstappen took his customary place at the front of the field. So mid-pack shuffling and the race between Checo Pérez and Charles Leclerc were the storylines that carried the day. After a very interesting grand prix last week, this one just sort of fizzled out.

Driver of the race

My driver of the race, in the last of his career, is Sebastian Vettel. He’s dealt with a car that doesn’t befit his skills and bad calls from his team this year, and today was no different. Yet he fought, raced his tail off, and entertained us all. Danke, Seb. 

Moment of the race

The big moment for me was when Ferrari told Leclerc to do the opposite of what Pérez did for pit strategy. Pérez came in for a second pit stop, so Leclerc stayed out. After one strategy blunder after another this year, Ferrari finally had a call pay off. Traffic slowed Pérez down enough that he wasn’t able to catch Leclerc before the end of the race, making Leclerc runner-up in the driver’s championship.

Thoughts moving forward

The final grid for 2023 fell into place this weekend with Nico Hulkenberg announced as a Haas driver and Daniel Ricciardo signing as a reserve driver for Red Bull. Logan Sargeant earned his super license to drive for Williams. We waved good-bye to Vettel, Nicholas Latifi, and Mick Schumacher. 

So it will be a while before we have many new storylines from F1, most likely. Teams will be hard at work testing and designing their cars. I’m most excited about watching the next season of “Drive to Survive” and comparing it to what I experienced in real time. 

While I’m sure the drivers and teams are eagerly awaiting the chance to sleep in their own beds on a regular basis, I’ll be counting down until March.

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Nicole Gustafson
Nicole Gustafson 56 Articles

Nicole was born in Chicago and raised in Des Moines. She took her talents to The Iowa State University, where she earned a degree in journalism. You can find Nicole cheering on her favorite sports teams, hanging out with her dog, or finishing a Netflix marathon. Nicole is a big fan of #pitcherswhorake, fat guy TD's, and carbs. She's not a fan of mornings, winter, or vegetables and will complain to anyone who will listen.

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