Ambient 25° Track28° Humidity 72% Wind 1.0 m/s
The weather at Abu Dhabi was every bit as boring as the lack of champers on the podium. An unfortunate P3 for Kvyat who ran only 2 laps before electrics sidelined him. Fortunately the politics remain entertaining as the grotesque 3 sided tango between Red Bull, Renault and Lotus proved to be impossible not to watch as the cars were readied for qualifying
With Rosberg ascending to the top at P3 one would expect him to lose Q1 and Q2 before taking Q3 and his 6th pole in a row as has been the pattern recently. Which is exactly what happened with the big difference that this time around that Lewis managed to snag provisional pole with his last lap as Rosberg was halfway through with the checkers having already flown. Despite Hamilton’s lacklustre first lap which was slower than his best Q2 effort, his 2nd made it a proper duel and brought a hint of excitement to what had been a disappointing string of non duels for the top spot.
Of course, the real story is that Vettel somehow managed to not exit Q1 and will be starting the race from P16 with his last lap inexplicably called off. Joining him in being ditched early were Alonso with a puncture and Ericsson with and issue. Naturally Manor were once again holding fort at the far end of the grid, with Merhi having lantern rouge honours, slightly more than a second slower than Stevens.
Hulkenberg also suffered tyre woes in Q2 with deflating tyre, but having already set a faster time than Perez (albeit on new tyres versus Sergio’s used set) he was comfortably into Q3. Not so for young Max, who as time ran short was on a hot lap that did not manage to elevate him ahead of Sainz who was the last to scrape by into Q3. That gives the quali battle to Carlos for the year. Perhaps if the team gets him a car that can finish he might worry Verstappen on total points as well.
Button also made a big splash by going P9 to make Q2, but when push came to shove P12 was the best he could manage for Macca’s fans (sad faced emoji with tears). Still, it was a better return than Grosjean, who bailed with an issue on his first run and scrambled back onto track only to park it at T8, with some kind of terminal disaster of a repair. Luckily for the runners, he managed to get to the protected side of a wall so no yellows were thrown.
Williams last quali ended with a whimper, not a bang as the best they could manage was a P6 and P7, with Bottas ahead of Massa. Contrarily it was a little ray of sunshine for Red Bull, for despite their being down on power, Ricciardo pulled off a P5 that left a smile on top of the smile that’s usually on his face.
But the mega event might’ve been Perez’ first lap in Q3 which left him not only well ahead of his teammate but also just in front Raikkonen in provisional P3 by 0.1s. No one saw that coming and it must be said development of the Force India seems to have favoured him quite a bit, though to be fair, his sponsors are probably paying the majority of the bills at this point given the legal status of Mallya and Roy. Kimi was able to stage an effective 2nd run however and it wound up Perez P4, but looking to have the pace and engine to make life rather miserable for Ferrari should they continue their history of dodgy strategy calls.
Should the race at the front prove every bit as predictable as we have come to expect, there are still a few issues to be settled in the midfield starting with Bottas ahead of Kimi by just 1 point in the WDC. Danny Ric is 10 points back of his teammate and would love to close that gap whilst Hulkenberg is holding onto 10th in the WDC, 4 points ahead of both Grosjean and Verstappen.
Just a reminder, these are the points on offer, I’ll let you do the complicated maths in the comments
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