Abu Dhabi Season Finale Race Recap

Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez finished 11th and 12th, respectively, in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Sunday at Yas Marina Circuit.

Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez finished 11th and 12th, respectively, in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Sunday at Yas Marina Circuit.

Grosjean started from 14th in the 22-driver field to finish 11th, one spot shy of a point-paying outcome. It was the team’s eighth 11-place finish of the year, with Grosjean collecting three of those results while Gutiérrez accounted for the other five.

Both Haas F1 Team drivers employed a two-stop strategy in the 55-lap race around the 5.554-kilometer (3.451-mile), 21-turn track. However, the two opted for different tire choices.

Grosjean began the race on the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tire, with the harder compound allowing him to stay out on the track longer than those who opted for the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tire. Grosjean rose to as high as 10th before pitting at the end of lap 20 for another set of Yellow softs. He rejoined the race in 15th and climbed to 11th before making his final pit stop at the end of lap 38 for a new set of Red supersofts. The softer compound tire gave Grosjean the grip he needed to attack in the closing laps. He maintained his 11th-place standing in the running order and set his sights on the McLaren of 10th-place Fernando Alonso. Despite being a second faster than the two-time Formula One champion with 10 laps to go, Grosjean could not close the gap and had to settle for 11th.

Gutiérrez used the Red supersofts to start from 13th on the grid, and with the compound’s higher rate of degradation, he pitted at the end of lap eight for a new set of Yellow softs. These tires carried Gutiérrez to the end of lap 28, where he had climbed to 11th. This pit stop for another set of Yellow softs took Gutiérrez to the finish, but it allowed Grosjean to leapfrog his teammate, bumping Gutiérrez to 12th.

Haas F1 Team ends its debut season with a very respectable eighth-place finish in the constructor standings, outpacing the factory Renault team (ninth) and Sauber (10th) and Manor (11th). The 29 points Haas F1 Team earned in 2016 are the most of any new team in this millennium. When Jaguar debuted in 2000 and when Toyota came on the scene in 2002, each entity managed only two point-paying finishes in their entire first seasons for a combined total of six points.

Winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was Lewis Hamilton. It was the Mercedes driver’s 53rd career Formula One victory, his 10th of the season and his fourth in a row. It was also his third win at Yas Marina Circuit. Hamilton’s margin of victory was .439 of a second over his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, but it wasn’t enough to wrestle away the championship from Rosberg.

Rosberg won his first Formula One title with a second-place finish in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He came into the season finale with a 12-point lead over Hamilton, and his runner-up effort secured the championship by five points. Rosberg joins his father, Keke, in the realm of Formula One world champions, as Keke won the 1982 title. Keke and Nico Rosberg are only the second father-son duo to win championships, with Graham and Damon Hill the first to do so, as patriarch Graham won titles in 1962 and 1968 with son Damon scoring the 1996 championship.

The final race of 2016 also marked the final Formula One race for two of the sport’s biggest starts – Felipe Massa and Jenson Button. Massa ends his 14-year Formula One career with 250 starts, which includes 11 wins, 41 podiums, 16 poles and 937 laps led. He drove his Williams to a ninth-place finish in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Button concludes his 17-year Formula One career with 305 starts, highlighted by the 2009 championship and 15 wins, 50 podiums, eight poles and 761 laps led. Button was credited with a 20th-place result at Abu Dhabi, as he was forced to the garage after 12 laps with a mechanical issue.

With the 2016 season officially complete, teams turn their full attention to 2017. New car regulations, which include an advanced aerodynamic package that will create a higher level of downforce via a longer nose, wider front wing, larger barge boards, sidepods being pushed out, a lower and wider rear wing and a diffuser that expands 50 millimeters (two inches) in height and width. Augmenting these changes are wider tires from Pirelli, by 60 millimeters (2.4 inches) in the front and 80 millimeters (3.1 inches) in the rear.

While the 2017 season-opening Australian Grand Prix won’t take place until March 26, plenty of work will happen between now and then, with preseason testing Feb. 27-March 2 and March 7-10 at Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya providing the first glimpse of where teams stand prior to the 68th Formula One season.

Romain Grosjean, Driver No. 8, Haas F1 Team

“We’ve had a wonderful season and surprised everyone, ourselves included, with some highs and some lows. We didn’t score points today but if you take out the top-six cars of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, we’re only the third team behind, which is not that bad. There are a lot of things we can improve through the winter, mainly about the tires. Clearly today there were some laps where my pace was amazing and the car felt really good when the tires were working. Then a few laps later things are going out of sync. It’s clear where we have to work. All the other teams are close to their limits where we have so much that we can improve on for next season. I’m looking forward to it.”

Esteban Gutiérrez, Driver No. 21, Haas F1 Team

“I’m very happy to have worked with everyone on this team. I really did my best to give them my best performance and the best of myself today. Hopefully, this leaves them all with a great memory. It’s been very nice and I’ve been very grateful to work with Gene Haas and Guenther Steiner. I was proud to be with the team, which started from scratch, and to be a part of the project through the season. Big thank you to my crew, my engineers and mechanics. I wish the whole team all the best for the future.”

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team

“I think we’re pretty happy with today. We had a competitive car and we finished 11th and 12th, which mirrors the year. We finished the year on a high even if we didn’t get in the points. I felt that today we had one of our best races with both drivers just out of the points. This is a nice way to finish our first season. I’ll take this moment to say thank you to everybody, especially thanks to Gene for giving us this opportunity. Thanks to all the team who work so hard and thanks to both Romain and Esteban for their work all year long. Now we get ready for next year.”

Next Up

The 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship begins March 26 with the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. But before cars take to the 5.303-kilometer (3.295-mile), 16-turn Albert Park 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. 27-March 2 and March 7-10, teams will develop their 2017 cars at the 4.655-kilometer (2.892-mile), 16-turn circuit

This article contains: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix