November 26, 2017

F1 Update!: Abu Dhabi 2017, The Season's Over Edition

So with that, the 2017 season drives off into the sunset... literally, considering the sun went down during the course of the race today.  The championships had been sewn up for weeks.  It was theoretically possible for Mercedes' Valterri Bottas to take 2nd in the Driver's Championship, but he'd have to win and Ferrari's Seb Vettel would have to finish... um... 9th or below, it looks like.  Half of the staff of F1Update! called in today, too busy spending the holiday weekend with family or friends or both.  So it was a depleted crew that gathered in the F1U! Media Center And Snack Bar as the F1 Circus waited for the lights to go out.  What sort of show did we see?  THIS is your F1 Update! for the 2017 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi! 

*LIGHTS OUT:  We're changing our mind.  We're not going to do bullet points tonight.  The conversation, it flows through us.  Because whooo-boy, this was a big race full o' nuthin'.  Right from the start, Bottas took the lead from teammate/world champion Lewis Hamilton and would essentially not relinquish it for the rest of the day.  However, almost immediately we here in the F1U! Media Center And Pizza Joint became incredibly suspicious.  Hamilton didn't exactly attack the first turn the way he normally does... not that Bottas gave him much in the way of opportunity to do so.  

And thus it came to pass that when the first lap ended, the top 12 cars on the starting grid... were still in the same position they started in.  This did not come without some tomfoolery, though, as Nico Hulkenberg's Renault had been passed by the Force India of Sergio Perez.  Hulkenberg, aware that the drab and boring Top 12 thing was resting fully on his shoulders, decided to take the place back by the simple expedient of ignoring Turn 12 altogether.  He would eventually be given a five second time penalty, which he served during his only pitstop.  It made no difference however, as he was able to open enough of a gap on Perez to come out ahead on the whole thing.  Makes us here at the F1U! Media Center And Ball Pit wonder when someone is going to do it intentionally and win a race by doing so...

Anyway.  Bottas and Hamilton began to open a lead on Vettel in third, while Bottas stayed around two seconds, give or take, ahead of his teammate.  It is true that Yas Marina Circuit is difficult to pass at, but we suspect that if there had been anything to gain, Hamilton would have been giving it a bit more effort.  Kind of like this writeup, come to that.  When the two Mercs made their respective pitstops, Hamilton tried... he put in some quick times in the laps between Bottas' stop and his own, and the stop itself was faster than the Finn's... but it was to no avail.  It was going to take a Safety Car situation to close them up.  There were two opportunities for Berndt Maylander to wake from his eternal slumber and make an appearance.  The first was when Red Bull's Smiley Ricciardo was told to retire the car due to a hydraulics failure.  He found the biggest patch of grass in Dubai and nearly managed to roll it behind the wall for the track workers.  The second time was later in the race when Renault let Carlos Sainz leave the pits without ever actually tightening the left-front wheel nut.  Yup, the gunner never bothered.  While this sounds like something that would happen at the F1U! Media Center And Lube Rack, it probably shouldn't during a F1 race.  Just saying, y'know?

As the laps ticked down, the race settled into the processional we here at the F1U! Media Center And Parade Organizational Facility had expected all along.  Late it looked like we could possibly have some action when Bottas locked up a wheel.  That allowed Hamilton to close into possible attack range, but the Finn was able to fend off the World Champ easily enough.  After this, it was clear that the Brit said "okay, you win".  From spending the entire race within two seconds or so, he was suddenly four seconds back.  And that's the way it stayed, the two Mercs finishing 1-2, with the Ferrari of Seb Vettel a distant 15 seconds behind Hamilton.  After that, it was nearly a half-minute of waiting before the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen crossed the line, Embryo Verstappen nipping at his diffuser as he did.  There was then another wait of 40 seconds before Hulkenberg finished.  

After the race, the two Mercedes drivers pulled onto the pit straight and proceeded to do donuts for the crowd, with the World Champion showing that one skill he doesn't have is doing donuts in a F1 car.  Here's Bottas, carving perfect circles of rubber onto the track surface as befits the android he is, then there's Hamilton, flooping around like he's hooked up to a spirograph.  We here at the F1U! Media Center And Etch-A-Sketch Art Gallery could only roll our eyes and groan.  Which we then did, loudly and with feeling, when the Williams of Felipe Massa slowly edged its way into the picture.  Yes, we know it's your last race, Felipe.  No, we don't care, you had your moment in Brazil.  The staff of the F1U! Media Center and Etiquette Facility tut-tutted savagely.  We figure he thought he'd be the only one out there and by the time he realized the Mercs were, y'know, celebrating their season-long accomplishments, it was too late to turn back to the pits.  Even Massa's long-time chief mechanic, Rob Smedley, asked "are you sure you're supposed to be there?"  No, Rob, he wasn't.  Thanks for asking, though.

In the end, the only change this race presented was Renault passing Toro Rosso for sixth in the Constructor's Championship.  That went Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, Force India, Williams, Renault, Toro Rosso, Haas, McLaren, and Sauber disappointingly brought up the rear.  With a whimper, the 2017 Season came to a close, leaving the members of the F1U! Media Center and Prognostication Division to wonder: "wither the sport?"  Things need to be fixed, from penalties for parts changes to constant domination by one team or another.  Perhaps Liberty Media can pull it off, perhaps they can't.  We'll find out in 118 days, in Melbourne.  See ya then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:28 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
Post contains 1080 words, total size 7 kb.

1 "...And Etch-A-Sketch Art Gallery" got a solid laugh out of me, so thank you for that.

Anything from the Prognostication Division on whether it looks like Liberty will try to upend the apple cart or leave things alone for a season so they can get a feel for things?

Posted by: GreyDuck at November 27, 2017 08:42 AM (rKFiU)

2 Two questions:
1. Isn't Berndt Maylander's slumber more like "eternally punctuated"? 2.  "wither F1" or "whither F1" or both?

Posted by: Rick C at November 27, 2017 05:04 PM (ECH2/)

3 I have a policy of never correcting people until they ask. 

It's whither. 

Also, RIC's retirement meant RAI passed him for P4. Bummer. (When asked about it, Daniel went bitchy and said that in that car,  RAI should have been way ahead of him.) And HUL's strong finish bumped him to... Tenth, I think? 

Posted by: Mrs. Will at November 27, 2017 06:48 PM (KXDM9)

4 #1 was intended to be a joke.  #2 was a semi-serious question, given our host's whimsical nature.

Posted by: Rick C at November 27, 2017 08:53 PM (ITnFO)

5 Oh, like wither on the vine. I see. I have the world's worst superpower w.r.t. typos and other errors - if there is one mistake in your 80-page document, I WILL find it. Even if I'm trying to ignore it. And my eye will twitch unless I say something about it. 

I probably should have been an editor instead of an engineer, but the pay is better in engineering. 

Posted by: Mrs. Will at November 28, 2017 09:38 AM (33oA/)

6 Oh! I just realized you thought I was twitting you for correcting him. No, I have a serious problem with correcting people and was trying to convey rocking back and forth in my chair with my eye twitching until I had the relief of finally being able to shout, YES THERE IS AN H! Sorry, I see now that that did not come across at all. I'll be quiet :-)

Posted by: Mrs. Will at November 28, 2017 09:41 AM (33oA/)

7 Ha!  I have the same problem.  Did you by any chance go to Catholic school?

Posted by: Rick C at November 28, 2017 11:46 AM (ECH2/)

8 FWIW, I did mean "wither".

Posted by: Wonderduck at November 28, 2017 07:13 PM (EVb8m)

9 I am now thoroughly chastened :-)
No Catholic school, just a boatload of OCPD (which is different from OCD, but I have that, too). 

Posted by: Mrs. Will at November 29, 2017 10:36 AM (Fq+Vq)

10 And, in the first bit of big offseason news (that I've heard of anyway), Alfa Romeo is returning to F1 after a 30+ year absence.  Teaming with Sauber, but NOT supplying engines; Ferrari will be doing that.  The new team will be called Alfa Romeo Sauber, so, and correct me if I'm wrong, I assume that means AR will be providing needed cash to the beleaguered Sauber team in exchange for naming rights, yes?

Posted by: Thomas at November 30, 2017 08:47 AM (mSIXR)

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