Last Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – the final race of 2017 – was rather processional.
Once the all Mercedes front row had disappeared into the distance, the only excitement was provided by the mid field runners. Haas’s Romain Grosjean and William’s Lance Stroll provided some great entertainment as did Filipe Massa and Fernando Alonso.
A resurgent Valtteri Bottas held off team mate Lewis Hamilton for the 55 laps, an important victory for the Finn – a confidence boost for the start of the 2018 season.
Ferrari are hard at work on their new car with the aim of taking the title next season, after the lacklustre performance of both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen at the Yas Marina circuit.
Both drivers said that they were saving fuel to be legal at the chequered flag.
So, regulations strike again enforcing an economy run.
Hopefully it was an end of year aberration in the Ferrari fuel consumption and not an indication of another area of Mercedes domination.
The reduction in the number of power units for 2018 appears to be creating issues between the teams with Mercedes and Red Bull being the latest to air their differences.
Christian Horner has said that F1 is “barking mad” – the Red Bull team principal referring to the 2018 regulations reducing the limit on engines to three per season from the current four.
His Mercedes counterpart, Toto Wolff, responded that the drive to reduce costs is the reason for this number reduction.
He has said: “If it is ‘barking mad then he shouldn’t have pushed for a lower supply price and shouldn’t have agreed to do a deal that, in order to lower the supply price, we are going to go down to three engines. “All the manufacturers were pushed to optimize on the supply price and this is the consequence.”
The teams with the most objections are those using Renault and Honda power units, with both Mercedes and Ferrari suffering far fewer failures.
Whatever the teams may think Jean Todt, FIA President, says they will have to live with the three engine limit as they voted for it.
With the current usage and facing an extended calendar it could be a year of penalties eroding the sports image even further, the earliest escape being 2021.
Further changes are on the cards, particularly the so called “shark fin” engine cover. McLaren want it out next season. It has already been banned by the FIA but now the teams want to keep it as a good place to put driver’s names and more sponsors logos.
To reverse the FIA ban requires a unanimous vote by all the teams and that is not about to happen as McLaren are not to be swayed. Zak Brown, executive director of McLaren says that the fin detracts from the space on the rear wing that could be used for advertising space. Brown has said. “The rear wing is the very valuable spot on the race car and with the current engine fin it blocks the rear wing. He continued.
“If you look at today’s race car, front wings are no longer commercially viable. We’ve got bargeboards and aerodynamic devices blocking the chassis side and now we’ve got this big engine fin that blocks the rear wing.”
So now we have reached a point in the pinnacle of motor sport where advertising space has to be considered in the design of the car.
I totally dislike the shark fin but really believe that aerodynamics have to be considered long before the marketing department plan where to stick their bill board. But let us not forget the new owners progress in improving the sport.
This weekend another milestone was reached with fanfares and free caps for all on the podium, which Hamilton promptly gave away, the reveal of the all new F1 logo.
I am totally overawed.