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Thread: 2021 Abu Dhabi GP: Post Race Analysis

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    2021 Abu Dhabi GP: Post Race Analysis

    Another season to be concluded around the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi and some massive changes were made to the track which certainly looked promising through practice. Unfortunately, the track continues to produce a boring lack of racing. Fortunately, the FIA and racing gods have showered us with some crazy circumstances for one of the most incredible finales of any F1 season. The championship was to be decided on the very last lap of the very last race.

    Red Bull stand on top of the podium with Max Verstappen, the 2021 Formula 1 World Champion. Hard to argue that he doesn't deserve to be Champion, but in all honesty it wasn't going his way and he wasn't going to win the Championship on pace. In the time Max needed his best start, he got one of his worst. A poor reaction time and no drive off the line meant Verstappen fell back to 2nd before the 1st corner. As expected Max was super aggressive and dive bombed Hamilton into T6, forcing Lewis off track but ultimately maintained his 2nd place position, although with some controversy. The team did everything they possibly could to help Verstappen. Perez who was on worn out soft tires stayed out to slow down Hamilton. Easily getting passed down the straight, to somehow fighting back and re-passing Lewis. This battle was enough to bring Max closer, but it didn't really make a difference as once Lewis got ahead, he opened the gap. The fresh tires on Hamilton absolutely helped put the power down, but it did show the straightline speed of the Mercedes as Perez was using full battery down the straights and was still slower. Red Bull even put on fresh Hard tires under the VSC, but even then Verstappen did not have the pace. The championship was all but gone until the late Safety car comes out and Red Bull take the no brainier opportunity to fit both their cars with Soft tires. Unknown why Perez had to retire though. But the FIA's ability to muck things up came into play once again. We will talk about this later. With a 1 lap shootout for the championship and there was zero doubt that Max was going to attempt a pass no matter what. What was shocking is that he did it so early in T5, which left him exposed for back to back DRS zones. The cars got as close as you can get without touching, but it was a fair battle that Max won, much in part to being on soft tires from the aggressive strategy calls by Red Bull. I have to say I am glad to see Christian Horner on the podium with Max, as he fought the team battle as hard as he could the entire year.

    Mercedes wins their 8th consecutive Constructors Championship. With all the buzz around Max and Lewis, this gets lost in how unbelievable that is. Considering that team's stint began with the purchase of an underdeveloped Brawn GP car, they have only 4 losses (2010-13 in 12 years! Incredible. Lewis Hamilton did everything he could. His Mercedes has been the class of the field by quite a margin over the last 4 races or so, and was completely in control of this race. The perfect start was key. Despite some feeling Lewis should have been forced to give the position back for going off track in T6 in lap 1, I disagree. He was clearly forced off due to a late lunge by Verstappen, he had no place to go. He did gain a significant advantage cutting the track and the controversy would be he did not properly give that advantage back. Just like in the last race, it is his right to give that advantage back where he feels fit, but at no point did he ever let Verstappen to get right into his rear diffuser, so Red Bull had a right to be upset by the FIA ruling that it was done sufficiently. The truth of the matter is it would not have made a difference. Aside from Hamilton being caught up in a collision, he was going to get by Verstappen anyways as him and his car was just way too fast. One can only imagine how helpless he felt on the last lap knowing his tires could not compete against the Red Bulls. Lewis Hamilton did everything right in this race, only to get caught out by some bad luck, something very unusual for him. Mercedes could have some finger pointing against them, they played it safe, but Red Bull had the advantage to react to anything Mercedes would do first, and likely would have done the opposite to what Mercedes decided. Choosing track position is almost always the right choice. Bottas in his final race as a Mercedes driver, not a great one. Any time he has a poor start position or gets stuck in traffic, he just can't move forward. Does he have inferior equipment to Lewis at this stage of the season? Unknown, but watching him draft Leclerc with DRS wide open and only hit 317 kph when the Mercs were doing 323 kph with no draft in quali raises the question why Bottas doesn't have the race power. You have to feel bad for Bottas, as none of the Mercedes team even acknowledged his existence. His jump into the water after the race, and not one Mercedes employee in sight.

    Ferrari ending the season with a podium! Many many people did not agree that Carlos Sainz was the right driver to come to Ferrari and boy did he prove everyone wrong. He drove absolutely brilliantly all season. The longest point scoring streak of anyone. Let's face it, he joined Leclerc's team, and beat Charles Leclerc who most would agree is a phenom that everyone believes could challenge the likes of Max or Lewis with equal equipment. A podium is the perfect way to finish the season for Sainz. It is noteworthy that Sainz held up Max on new tires, which he had every right to do, but that did cost Verstappen a chance to fight Lewis when Perez slowed him down. Fortunately that made no difference to the championship standings. Charles on the other hand did not have a great final weekend. Once again caught out with strategy it seems. Had a big moment with snap oversteer in T3 which was probably caused by the turbulence from Max coming out of the pits. Very excited about the Ferrari driver pairing going into 2022, but hopefully Leclerc can see a little less bad luck. Ferrari 3rd place in constructors though, that is HUGE considering last season.

    AlphaTauri really did amazing job to finish of 2021. Gasly without a doubt is the MVP of the year. Carried the team the entire season. P5, one better than his usual P6, so that's great. Tsunoda has earned the reputation as being one of the worst drivers of the year. Badly outqualified by his teammate in 21 races, very few quality races, and yet was the star of the team this weekend. Finally nips Gasly in quali, and then a P4 in the final race under the Honda name on the car. Couldn't have been a better race for Tsunoda.

    McLaren were all over this race. At times in good position, and then struck back in traffic. It's hard to see where it went wrong for them, but it seemed like a better result was possible for Norris. However, Riccardio didn't seem to have any pace all day. Even if they had a good day, it was likely they were going to get beat by Ferrari once again. A tough end to their season.

    Alpine has to be pretty happy for a double points position. They had some massive battle over the lower points position all race and to have both drivers come away with points is a great result. Alonso back in F1 has been very enjoyable to watch, and he's had some super star moments. Ocon getting his first victory. Perhaps Alpine hasn't had the pace at every track, but a pretty successful season regardless.

    Aston Martin probably left a lot of people scratching their heads. After having one of the best cars in 2020, really did not deliver this year. The season really showed the team's inability to develop a car as they got worse as the season went on. Vettel was in the fight most of the race, but just lost out of points in the end. Not sure why Stroll didn't do better, but it is what it is.

    Haas ends the season with 0 points. Terrible but completely expected. They openly admitted they would not be developing this year's car and with a couple of rookies learning the ropes of F1, it may not have been a bad decision. Schumacher stuck in there and got a respectable 14th place finish. Funny how his battle with Latifi would have an impact on retaining his dad's record equaling 7 championships. Strange that Mazepin's terrible season would conclude with a very late Covid positive test result, forcing him to not start.

    Williams had awful end to the season, but did manage to secure 8th in the WCC. Overall a positive season for their. Too bad for them, their star in George Russell is off to bigger and better places. Would love to see Williams have an even stronger season next year. Latifi raced around but one has to ask, how much time does he have left in F1? There are much better drivers out there that deserve a shot.

    Alfa Romeo had a sad end to their season, and the career's of Raikkonen and Giovinazzi. Double DNF, ouch. At least Kimi had the Kimi attitude and didn't really care. Everyone will miss him on the grid. Giovinazzi had some great performances here and there, but he wasn't an elite F1 driver, and he doesn't bring millions of dollars with him, so his time in F1 was never going to last. Let's hope he has a good career in Formula E.

    Driver of the Day. This is a tough one. Perez had the best driving of the race in his slow down of Hamilton, it was a sacrifice to his race but he was still on route to a podium, possibly 2nd place. Instead he did DNF. Sainz driving a hell of a strong race and getting that podium position, though at the benefit of Perez's bad luck. Lewis Hamilton did everything right and deserved to win, but in the end lost the race and the championship. All 3 deserve DOYD, so we will give it to Yuki Tsunoda! When a driver beats his teammate who obliterated him all season, and has by far his best race of his career with a P4 finish. That deserves DOTD.

    Safety Car Drama!

    Latifi crashes and we know a SC is imminent. Why not a Red Flag? Masi made it clear if that exact accident happened, he would throw a SC, not a Red Flag. I like that he stuck to his word. At first Masi says the lapped cars could not overtake. Very unusual, but there is a safety element that needs to be looked at. It is easy to say that the FIA could have allowed the lapped cars to go by much earlier, as there is no reason why they would not slow down in the "dangerous" zone just as they would behind the SC. However there are some rules and procedures that take place behind a SC and that may have prohibited that. If the race director has the authority to pick and chose what they want to do, as they have all season long, then Masi could have made that call. Initially it did appear that the FIA were deciding to secure the championship for Hamilton by not allowing the lapped cars by. The fans cheering for Max get sent into an outcry, which understandable. 4 laps to clear a car, let lapped cars through, and still 1 lap to race doesn't seem too difficult. Masi decided to change his mind last second, and allow only the lapped cars behind Max and Lewis to go by, which by the wording of the rules is easy to read that it goes against the FIA's rules. Fundamentally as the director in charge of the races, and effectively the championship, it is the right call to allow the 2 contenders to have one lap to fight it out. Mercedes and anyone cheering for Hamilton absolutely had reason to complain. It was not surprising to see Mercedes lodge a protest about the SC procedures possibly not being followed. What was a disappointment, was the protest against Verstappen "overtaking" under the SC. Lewis and Max were playing games once again, and the argument between unnecessary braking and accelerating can be equally discussed. The fact is Verstappen did not overtake Lewis and gain a position in any of the SC segments, was not ahead when Lewis resumed racing, and was not ahead at the start/finish line. That protest was flat out poor sportsmanship by Mercedes.

    One of the most insane season's of all time, loaded with drama and controversy. Take your side on who you want to defend and which moments meant the most to you.

  2. #2
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    Another great analysis.
    It's not how start but how you finish.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jgonzalesm6 View Post
    Another great analysis.
    Thank you

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    Didn't watch the race.... reading your analysis and some YT videos gave me pretty much the entire race story.
    Thanks for that analysis... Keep it up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 20000rpm View Post
    Didn't watch the race.... reading your analysis and some YT videos gave me pretty much the entire race story.
    Thanks for that analysis... Keep it up.
    Watch the replay if you can, it was a classic, an epic race.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JPZ View Post
    Watch the replay if you can, it was a classic, an epic race.
    Yeah, intend to do that today or tomorrow.

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