Formula 1 in Abu Dhabi: a taste of the new season

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix can be understood as a pointer to 2019. At the season finale the protagonists were obviously having fun. Only an accident would almost spoil the good mood.



So they stood together in Abu Dhabi on the podium. As if the sportlessly meaningless final race of the Formula 1 season 2018 already wanted to give a hint for 2019: Because Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen - these are the three who will probably make the title in the coming year.

Hamilton and Vettel, the two dominant riders of the year, emphasized that when they complimented each other right after the finish line. "It was an honor and a privilege to race against Sebastian, and I'm sure our duel will continue next year," the Briton said. Vettel replied, "Lewis is the champion, he deserves it, it was a tough year, but it was a lot of fun, and we, the whole team, will do anything to be even harder opponents for him next year."

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At the press conference, when Verstappen was sitting, both made it clear that they expect the Red Bull driver to be involved as well. The young Dutchman gladly accepted the "invitation" to the circle of the very big, even if he was still a bit cautious. "Even if we should then have a package that we can keep up with - it will certainly not be easy, because we also need the extreme consistency that Mercedes and Ferrari have," said Verstappen.

Red Bull expects 2019 "only low performance disadvantage"

After all, he no longer has the Renault engine in the rear, which is a weak point for years, but a Honda unit. Red Bull Motorsport Coordinator Helmut Marko is sure: "According to the current findings, we will only have a small performance disadvantage." The Japanese have learned a lot in 2018 as partner of the Red Bull B team Toto Rosso, the top is to be missing in the new season less than 15 hp.

For Mercedes, the dominant team of the past years, everything can stay as it is for 2019. After five drivers and five Constructors world championship titles in series, there is no reason for major changes. The fact that Tony Ross, who once led Nico Rosberg to the world title and was now in charge of Valtteri Bottas, changes as chief engineer into the Formula E team of Mercedes, should make no big difference. The system of focusing on superstar Hamilton works - and makes the British stronger and stronger.

Ferrari's most important goal for the coming season must be to bring peace to the team. Whether that succeeds is not certain. It is still unclear what the consequences of the internal power struggle between team boss Maurizio Arrivabene and technical director Mattia Binotto will have: If Binotto, because Arrivabene continues to get all power, it would be a great loss for Ferrari.

Vettel needs time for himself

Another variant: Ferrari boss John Elkann seems to be considering whether to "put" somebody in front of the two quarrels, as it were, to ensure order. A decision has not yet been made. What is certain: with the young Charles Leclerc Vettel gets a new, ambitious teammate who will try everything to put him under pressure from the start. Vettel says he needs some time for himself now.

Whether the three protagonists will understand each other as well as at the season finale, when it really concerns everything, is questionable. In Abu Dhabi, even in holiday and leisure mood, was at times comedy announced. At the press conference Hamilton Vettel offered a sip of his self-created energy drink, which declined with thanks: "I'd rather drink Red Bull." Whereupon Verstappen grinned said: "Come to us, we still have a lot of it."

When asked what they all plan for the winter, Hamilton turned to Vettel: "Another baby?" His counterpart: "No, that's already done, but if you need tips: I know how to do it." What Hamilton and Verstappen said they would rather do a little "free practice" in that respect.

Hülkenberg crash as the only fun brake

That fun in Abu Dhabi was all about fun was felt throughout the weekend. Hamilton had spent a lot of time with US superstar Will Smith before the start, with whom he is good friends. A joint junk video of the two landed immediately in the social networks.

"Will, I've got to race! Seriously !! "Abu # AbuDhabiGP @ F1 pic.twitter.com/cf1lBiseHW

- Mercedes-AMG F1 (@ MercedesAMGF1) November 25, 2018

The relaxed mood would have been stopped almost abruptly in the first race lap: When Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean touched so unhappily that the German's Renault climbed over the wheel of the Haas, overturned and remained lying on his head against the track boundary.

The Halo gave Hülkenberg no chance to get out of the car on his own - exactly the scenario that critics had always warned. Especially because at the rear of the Renault licked flames. "To the right was the wall in the way, to the left of the halo, and there was a gap of 30 or 40 centimeters to the tarmac, so I was hoping the marshals would come fast, they did a great job and did a good job," said Hulkenberg. The fire was extinguished, the marshals put the car back on the wheels, the German could get out on his own and got away without injury.

What helped him above all was the very stable structure of the rollover structure of the cars, which had nothing to do with the halo. "I do not know what the situation would have looked like without a halo," said Hulkenberg. "But one way or the other, the Halo is here, we have to accept that."

Formula 1 season 2018

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REF: http://www.spiegel.de/sport/formel1/formel-1-grosser-preis-von-abu-dhabi-bietet-vorgeschmack-auf-neue-saison-a-1240341.html

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