Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Adieu Formula 1 2018

2018-11-21 06:01

UNFORTUNATELY, all good things must come to an end. So it is the case for, among other things, the 2018 Formula 1 world championship season.

For the final round of the season, the Formula 1 paddock makes its home in Abu Dhabi, as the cars and drivers ready themselves for a dash around the Yas Marina circuit.

Introduced in 2009, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has provided a most fitting and spectacular backdrop as the season finale.

It is unique as the only race that starts at dusk and ends under floodlights, thereby making it the only twilight race on the calendar.

While the Yas Marina complex is an impressive complex, the 5.5km circuit hasn’t exactly been known for delivering spectacular races. Designed by F1’s architect of choice, Herman Tilke, the track is dominated by a 1.2km straight which naturally rewards those with a bit more engine power.

The straight is bookended by slow-speed corners which will encourage overtaking.

It isn’t only the 2018 season that comes to its conclusion this weekend either.

Double world champion Fernando Alonso bids Formula 1 farewell after a storied career. In 2001 he showed up as a fresh-faced rookie driver at Minardi.

From Minardi he joined Renault and won back-to-back titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006 before moving to McLaren for 2007. He made a brief return to Renault in 2008 and 2009 before joining Ferrari in 2010.

Unable to win a title with the Italian team Alonso returned to McLaren at the start of the 2015 season.

His speed and unapologetic hunger to win was immediately evident and a trademark of his years in the sport.

Not only did he popularise Formula 1 in Spain but he is also, by many, considered to be one of the best drivers of his generation.

Of his talent there is little doubt, but his is a career also tinged by several contro­versies.

But still there can be no uncertainty that Alonso’s name will forever be written and remembered in the folklore of Formula 1.

Despite four years of uncompetitive racing at McLaren, Fernando Alonso has lost none of his racing spirit and certainly none of his desire for victory.

In 2019 he will continue to race in the World Endurance Championship while making another bid for victory at the Indianapolis 500 and the famed Triple Crown.

And though it seems unlikely, there is nothing to suggest, despite his age, that he couldn’t make a return to Formula 1 in the future.

Elsewhere, Kimi Raikkonen’s 151st start for Ferrari will also be his last for the team. The Raikkonen/Ferrari story has been a fascinating one highlighted by the ultimate pinnacle of the world championship in 2007.

While Raikkonen moves to Sauber for the 2019 and 2020 seasons, where he hopes “to have fun”, he remains, to date, Ferrari’s last F1 world champion.

Daniel Ricciardo too moves into the next phase of his racing career as he competes in his final race for Red Bull this weekend.

Not too long ago it was unfathomable to imagine the popular Aussie as anything other than a Red Bull driver. However, his move to Renault for 2019 is an enormous challenge and he will leave the Red Bull stable with his head held high and several dazzling victories.

Valtteri Bottas is staying put at Mercedes and will be hoping to add a dazzling victory to his otherwise mediocre season.

The Yas Marina circuit, and its smooth surface, is one that suits Bottas’s driving style and he’d be a good bet for the win this weekend, if he hits the sweet spot.

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