This season’s finale race saw a lot of emotionali moments, being Fernando Alonso’s last time in Formula 1 and Kimi Raikkonen’s last time in the Ferrari boxes. Lewis Hamilton takes the 11th win of the season starting from pole, followed by Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen
First lap madness
The race seems to be off to a regular start, with the first four drivers (Hamilton, Bottas, Vettel, Raikkonen) effectively defending their position. Max Verstappen worries the Red Bull pitwall with mapping problems which hinder his start and have him lose four positions. The first lap, however, is immediately doomed by an awful crash involving th cars of Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg. The German has a contact with Grosjean’s front left tyre, getting airborne and crashing upside down on the barriers. A small fire ensues, but the driver is miraculously uninjured. The dynamic of the accident prompts the Safety Car to be deployed, just after Charles Leclerc has surprising managed to get past the master of overtaking himself, Daniel Ricciardo. While the Safety Car gets back into the pits in Lap 5, normal rae pace is not held for long: Race Direction issues a Virtual Safety Car after Raikkonen’s electrical failure occurs right in the middle of the starting straight. At this point (Lap 8), Hamilton and Leclrc go for an early pit stop, both fitting Supersoft tyres.
Battle in the midfield
While the situation at the front of the queue is stable, with Ricciardo leading after deciding to proong his stint, the midfield battle is sparked by lots of overtakes, something we do not see often at the Yas Marina Circuit. Ocon and Verstappen, rising through the field, battle once again, Leclerc and Alonso keep each other at bay, and Vandoorne leaves the circus with yet another impressive performance. Carlos Sainz, in his last race for Renault, deserves a mention of honour for bringing the car home in P6.
Engines are failing
This season saw the introduction of new technical regulation, limiting the amount of penalty-free Power Units to 3 for the total 21 races. While most teams complied better than others, end-of-season exhaustion eventually took a toll on everyone. Verstappen’s malfunctions are the first to show, but not the gravest. Esteban Ocon, Marcus Ericsson, Pierre gasly all have to retire because of engine failures, while Valtteri Bottas suffered power losses which had him lose the podium and the overall third place in the Championship, while still finishing the race in P5.
The chequered flag marked the end of Fernando Alonso’s career in F1, and many drivers have payed homage to him. Carlos Sainz, lifelong fan, ran with the number 14 on his helmet, the press room was painted with Fernando’s images and McLaren dedicated a special livery to the 2-time World Champion. At the end of the Grand Prix,Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton escorted Fernando’s car to the startin grid, and they performed donuts together. Their relationship on track might have been rocky in the past ten years, but it was an amazing show of sportsmanship and respect from three Champions, piling up 11 World Titles together, honoring each other as the most influential F1 drivers of the decade, and among the best-known of all time.
We knew they were coming 🍩
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 25, 2018