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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Race Recap

Event:  Abu Dhabi Grand Prix (Round 21 of 21)

Date:  Sunday, Nov. 25

Location:  Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, UAE

Layout:  5.554-kilometer (3.451-mile), 21-turn track

Weather:  Partly cloudy with a brief period of light rain

Air Temps:  24.9-33.2 degrees Celsius (76.8-91.8 degrees Fahrenheit)

Track Temps:  28.2-34.8 degrees Celsius (82.8-94.6 degrees Fahrenheit)

Race Winner:  Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes

Haas F1 Team:

●  Romain Grosjean – Started 7th, Finished 9th (Running, completed 54/55 laps)

●  Kevin Magnussen – Started 13th, Finished 10th (Running, completed 54/55 laps)

Haas F1 Team closed the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship with its fifth double-points result of the season as Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen brought home finishes of ninth and 10th, respectively, in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Sunday at Yas Marina Circuit.

Haas F1 Team ended its third season with a strong fifth-place finish in the constructors’ standings, outpacing McLaren (sixth), Force India (seventh), Sauber (eighth), Toro Rosso (ninth) and Williams (10th). The 93 points Haas F1 Team earned in 2018 are nearly double the 47 points it earned during last year’s sophomore campaign. Magnussen wrapped the year a career-best ninth in the championship standings with 56 points. His previous best was 11th in his rookie year of 2014, when he scored 55 points. Grosjean finished 14th with 37 points.

A split strategy was employed by Haas F1 Team for the 55-lap race around the 5.554-kilometer (3.451-mile), 21-turn Yas Marina Circuit. Grosjean started on the Pirelli P Zero Pink hypersoft tires he used to qualify seventh on Saturday, while Magnussen opted for the more durable Red supersoft compound to begin his drive from 13th in the 20-car field.

On the first lap, Grosjean was pinched by the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg through the left-right chicane at turns eight and nine. Hulkenberg was sent off the track and out of the race, which brought out the safety car. Grosjean sustained slight front-end damage to his Haas VF-18, but he was able to continue and hold his position through the early laps.

Magnussen, meanwhile, was forced wide through turn one on the opening lap and lost a position, then dropped two more spots while navigating the hectic aftermath of Grosjean’s incident with Hulkenberg. Magnussen got around the Williams of Lance Stroll for 15th when the race went back to green on lap five.

Both Grosjean and Magnussen picked up a position on lap seven when Kimi Räikkönen’s Ferrari lost power on the frontstraight and stopped, bringing out the virtual safety car. This sent Grosjean into the pits, along with a handful of others. Grosjean switched from Pink hypersofts to a set of Red supersofts that would take him to the end of the race. Grosjean restarted 18th on lap nine but immediately picked up a position when he got by the Toro Rosso of Brendon Hartley. Magnussen, meanwhile, held steady in 12th.

Grosjean gradually worked his way into the top-10, which he finally cracked on lap 42 after Magnussen made his scheduled pit stop for a set of Purple ultrasoft tires. Magnussen dropped to 12th after his pit stop, but thanks to the attrition of others, he was able to join Grosjean in the top-10 after Esteban Ocon was forced to retire his Force India after 44 laps and Pierre Gasly took his Toro Rosso behind the wall after 46 laps.

The Haas F1 Team duo held their positions for the final nine laps, delivering the second straight double-points result for Haas F1 Team after Grosjean finished eighth and Magnussen ninth in the penultimate Brazilian Grand Prix.

Winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the pole was Lewis Hamilton. It was the Mercedes driver’s 73rd career Formula One victory, his series-leading 11th this season and his fourth at Yas Marina Circuit. Hamilton beat Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by 2.581 seconds.

Despite Abu Dhabi serving as the season finale, the drivers’ championship was clinched by Hamilton three races ago in the Mexican Grand Prix. Mercedes clinched the constructors’ title in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The last race of 2018 marked the final Formula One contest for two-time champion Fernando Alonso, one of the sport’s biggest stars. Alonso ends his 17-year Formula One career with 311 starts, which includes 32 wins, 97 podiums, 22 poles and 1,764 laps led, with his two titles coming in 2005 and 2006 with Renault. He drove his McLaren to an 11th-place finish in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

With the 2018 season officially complete, teams turn their full attention to 2019. While the season-opening Australian Grand Prix won’t take place until March 17, plenty of work will happen between now and then, with preseason testing Feb. 18-21 and Feb. 26-March 1 at Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya providing the first glimpse of where teams stand prior to the 70th Formula One season.

“It was complicated after the damage on the first lap. Obviously, there was (slight damage to) the front wing and maybe more. I’m glad Nico (Hulkenberg) was OK, though. The car was not easy to drive today, but I’m very happy that Kevin finished 10th today, so we both finished in the points. We’ve got such a great relationship in the team. We enjoy being together and, for the team to finish with double points, that’s great. Obviously, you always want more, and I think today more was achievable. But considering the damage to the car, I’m quite happy with where we were.”

“I’m very happy with the season. It’s easy to forget how young this team is. We’re only in our third year. We set a goal this season to take a step forward, which for us would have been seventh in the championship. But we’ve scored fifth comfortably. We’ve been strong all year. We challenged the likes of Renault and Force India all the way to the end. I’m very happy with that. The year has exceeded expectations.”

“To get to the end of the season and score double points, it’s good. It’s ninth and 10th, but we couldn’t catch anybody in the championship, anyway. It’s a good result for the team to go into the short break. We can enjoy fifth place in the championship, which I think is a big achievement for a young team. We are very happy with that. We will be coming back strong next year.”

The 2019 FIA Formula One World Championship begins March 17 with the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. But before cars take to the 5.303-kilometer (3.295-mile), 16-turn Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, they will spend two weeks testing at Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya. During two, four-day tests at the home of the Spanish Grand Prix Feb. 18-21 and Feb. 26-March 1, teams will develop their 2019 cars at the 4.655-kilometer (2.892-mile), 16-turn circuit.

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