Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi power rankings

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With Formula 1 season 2018 in the bag we take one last look up and down the grid to cherry pick those who impressed and those who fell short. Here’s our power rankings from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Moving on up

Carlos Sainz left behind him the disappointment on his Q2 exit from qualifying on Saturday to launch his Renault into the P6 and deep into the points positions. He’s leaving Renault on the high, and with a question mark over the performance of McLaren now and into the future, it might be a while before we seeing him troubling the scorers again.

Lewis Hamilton rounded out the year in a way that he never has before: winning races after claiming the championship. Not just that, his points haul for the season blasted through the 400 point barrier, making him the first driver ever to do so. It’s just a shame that he doesn’t show the same enthusiasm performing his official duties as he does with his mates behind the scenes.

Charles Leclerc has cemented his reputation as “best of the rest” many times this season, despite only finishing in P7 four times. Another solid performance from the man who soon after had his first spin in a Ferrari during testing as a prelude to the big show.

Backsliding

Romain Grosjean made quite an impact in Abu Dhabi, right into the side of Nico Hulkenberg. Although it generated one of the main talking points from the race, it’s just another example of Grosjean lacking what it takes to be a consistent performer at the highest level, even if the German admitted he played a small part in the contact.

Valtteri Bottas qualified on the front row only to tumble backwards to finish in P5. By his own admission he couldn’t wait for the season to end, and it’s no wonder. Despite being in the fastest (i.e. championship winning) team, to finish fifth in the drivers’ championship behind his teammate, both Ferraris and one of the Red Bull drivers is poor. With Ocon being kept on the leash for next year, the heat is on the Finn throughout next season.

Kimi Raikkonen finished his tenure at Ferrari not with a bang but a whimper, with the prospect of testing for Sauber only days after the race on his mind, even he must have felt that the F1 gods were trying to send the Iceman a message.

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Abu Dhabi GP: Winners and Losers

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Winners

Valtteri Bottas claimed his third career victory after converting his pole position into a victory, something he failed to do last race. It wasn't enough for the Finn to claim 2nd place in the championship, and for most his performance will be "too little, too late" but it shows that he still has what it takes to win races, and can keep pace with Hamilton when needed. Whether Hamilton has lost "the need" or not remains to be seen...

Nico Hulkenberg managed to drag his shambles of a Renault around the track to clinch P6 and enough points to jump Toro Rosso for 6th place in the constructors' championship, securing themselves an additional $12 million or so in cold, hard cash. Despite an off-track excursion on the opening lap, and the resulting penalty (and botched pit-stop) the Hulk again showed his class and demonstrated why his pairing with Sainz spells maximum attack in the midfield in 2018.

Pascal Wehrlein might have completed his last race in F1 for quite some time, but he seemed keen to remind everyone just what he can do. It might have been ailing Toro Rosso's and out of position Haas' that he was overtaking, but in a season where they have made the back row of the grid their own, to be within a sniff of the mid-field is an outstanding effort.

Losers

Daniel Ricciardo retired for the third time in the last four races, ending his season on a similar low to how it began. Although he enjoyed a blessed run of podiums in the first half of the season, it's largely been downhill for Ricciardo since the summer break and it's almost no wonder he's looking at the comparable reliability of Mercedes and Ferrari and dreaming of switching overalls after next season.

Renault's wheel nuts had an identity crisis and forgot their primary purpose when Carlos Sainz pulled into his garage to take service. Of all the pit-lane exits, you don't want to crash in the tunnel at Abu Dhabi if you value your life, as there aren't too many escape hatches handy if someone follows you in there. 

F1's new logo received what could charitably be called mixed reviews. Liberty's people insist that the old logo "doesn't come through candidly for digital" (ummm, what?) and that people weren't registering that the negative space was actually the "1". This is literally the shape of things to come, folks.

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Nico Rosberg clinches the title for 2016

Nico Rosberg claimed the podium result he needed to secure the world championship over teammate Lewis Hamilton. In a thrilling conclusion to the year Hamilton disobeyed orders from the team to speed up after he decided to back Rosberg into the traffic of Sebastian Vettel behind, ultimately reliability cost Hamilton the advantage heading in to the final race.

Realistically the Merecedes advantage was always going to make a Rosberg championship a reality if his car remained reliable.

After making contact with a Force India and spinning early in the race, Max Verstappen ran long in the first stint and looked like he was going to slow down Nico as much as possible. When Rosberg turned the wick up and passed Verstappen his trouble were not yet over. Sebastian Vettel running a contra strategy was aiming to finish the race on fresher tyres and the German cut through the field like hot butter and thanks to Hamilton's pedestrian lap times was pressuring Rosberg for the final laps.

Even if Vettel could get past Rosberg, the title would still have gone to Nico but the risk of contact, and with Verstappen only a few seconds down the road, it was a tense run to the line for the top three.

34 years after his father Keke Rosberg won the championship, Nico has overcome the doubters and joined an elite list of drivers to have achieved the ultimate prize in the sport. With Jenson Button retiring at this race the number of former world champions will remain at five with Rosberg joining Hamilton, Vettel, Alonso and Raikkonen.