We have reached Abu Dhabi, the 21st and final round of the World Championship. The curtain will fall on the season at Yas Marina but it will also inaugurate the 2019 season with the collective tests on Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 where we will see some changes of teams by drivers.
It will be interesting understanding Pirelli’s programme since I still believe the supplier must give us some sporting explanations. We saw a second half of the season constantly characterized by the same problems tied to the lack of difference in performance between the mixes, as well as blistering and graining problems.
We have 20 grands prix behind us and comparing with the 2017 results there are interesting outcomes, even in light of the future.
Mercedes, world constructors’ champion for the fifth straight year, confirmed its positive trend, even if it collected less points (630 against 688 last year). This is more than Ferrari which showed important growth of 31 points, despite Sebastian Vettel who collected 15 points less than 2017. The German driver closed last season in second place with 317 points. The gap is completed by Kimi Raikkonen whose pace speaks of 46 more points (251 against 205).
Despite problems of reliability Red Bull also showed positive signs. Ricciardo and Verstappen collected 24 more points. From next year they will have the Honda engine.
If the first three positions were confirmations, behind McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull there was no lack of new developments. A good leap forward by Renault, Haas, McLaren and Sauber which went from sixth, eighth, ninth and tenth place respectively to fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth place in the World Championship. All at the expense of Toro Rosso and Williams.
If behind Red Bull’s satellite team there is a technical explanation (they worked on behalf of Horner’s team to develop the Honda engine for 2019), for Williams the situation seems even more critical even if Robert Kubica’ s return full time beside the young promising Russell really pleased me. This was an intelligent combination. The Polish driver has the culture to help the extremely promising young driver.
Racing Point Force India (ex Force India) deserves a separate discussion. If to the current 48 points we also added the 49 points collected in the first 12 grands prix there would be a great duel with Renault for fourth place. This is a positive result and synonymous with the team that knew how to hold on to its technical level (finishing in fourth place in the previous two seasons) despite the financial problems that led to the change of ownership and loss of points at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Let us jump into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Gian Carlo Minardi