2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Race Review

Abu_Dhabi_Grand_Prix.JPG_843180934

On Saturday, Lewis Hamilton took Pole Position for the Abu Dhabi GP ahead of Nico Rosberg in second place and Daniel Ricciardo in third place.

i

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg both get good starts, but it is Hamilton who leads going into Turn 1. As we get into Turn 1, Max Verstappen spins and rejoins the race in last place. With places changing up and down the grid, positions were changing all the time within the first lap.

Lewis Hamilton leads the opening laps of the Abu Dhabi GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton leads the opening laps of the Abu Dhabi GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lap 2 sees Hamilton leading Rosberg by 0.6 seconds. Into Turn 1, Hulkenberg passes Perez for sixth place. The next lap sees Verstappen’s rapid rise through the grid and passes Romain Grosjean with a beautiful move into the back section of the Yas Marina circuit. At the end of Lap 5, Kevin Magnussen is told by the Renault team that he has to officially retire from the race in his final race with the team before moving to the Haas team for the 2017 season.

Lap 7 sees Valtteri Bottas officially retire from the race. Meanwhile at the end of the Lap, Hamilton pits for new tyres and hands the lead of the race to Rosberg. At the end of the next lap, Rosberg then pits for new tyres and hands the lead of the race to Ricciardo. But with Vettel stopping hindering Rosberg, he now is behind Verstappen on the circuit with Raikkonen closing up behind.

Lewis Hamilton leads after his pitstop. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton leads after his pitstop. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lap 10 sees Hamilton regaining the lead of the race ahead of Verstapen by 1.5 seconds; with Rosberg in third place. Raikkonen and Ricciardo are now battling for fourth on the track as Ricciardo tries to get past Verstappen as quickly as possible.

Lap 12 Jenson Button suffers a steering failure on his McLaren and has no choice but to retire the car and the end of his final F1 race. This is not what he would have wanted to give his fans or end his final race. I did have tears in my eyes watching this as I said goodbye to my hero.

Daniel Ricciardo catching Kimi Raikkonen on Lap 19. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Daniel Ricciardo catching Kimi Raikkonen on Lap 19. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

On Lap 16, Kvyat is suffering a problem with his Toro Rosso and has no choice but to retire from the race. Hamilton still leads the race on Lap 18 by 2.6 seconds ahead of Verstappen. The next lap sees Ricciardo trying to make a move on Raikkonen but he goes in too deep and Raikkonen is able to maintain the position.

Nico Rosberg now catching his team mate for the lead of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg now catching his team mate for the lead of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Rosberg and Verstappen on Lap 20 go wheel to wheel and it is Rosberg who manages with some beautiful moves to pass Verstappen to take second place and is now going to want to catch his team mate for the lead of the race.

Kimi Raikkonen running in third place in the first half of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Kimi Raikkonen running in third place in the first half of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

By Lap 23, there was a battle between Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Vettel for third place as Hamilton leads Rosberg by 4.3 seconds. In the next few laps, Ricciardo and Perez were battling each other on the circuit for position, with the Red Bull driver getting the position. Hamilton then stopped again on Lap 28, handing the lead of the race to Rosberg.

Lap 30 sees Hamilton leading the race ahead of Rosberg still despite the latter just pitting for new tyres. But the last part of the race was starting to catch everyone’s attention with what Hamilton was doing on the track.

Lewis Hamilton leading the final stages of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton leading the final stages of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Vettel’s pitstop on Lap 37 elevated the Mercedes pair back into a 1-2 position with Vettel emerging in sixth place behind Verstappen, Ricciardo and Raikkonen. Six laps later, Hamilton then got another message on Lap 43 saying that Vettel who was ten seconds down the road was an “imminent threat” to the lead.

But ten laps later the Mercedes team was instructing Hamilton to up the pace, with the world champion replying “I suggest you guys let us race,” as Vettel continued to close in for Ferrari. But Vettel then became a bigger concern as he caught and passed Ricciardo in fine style, with Hamilton’s pace dropping even further as the Ferrari got closer and closer.

Hamilton’s tactics set up a grandstand finish, with Verstappen and Vettel edging ever closer to the leading Mercedes drivers. Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe even got on the radio to instruct Hamilton to speed up to which Hamilton replied back that he was doing the only thing he could to win his fourth title.

Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel in the latter stages of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel in the latter stages of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

As the remaining laps ticked down, Vettel got past Verstappen and found himself catching Rosberg very quicjly. With third place enough for Rosberg securing the championship, Tony Ross reminded him not to do anything stupid if Vettel did get close to him, even though he didn’t.

Lewis Hamilton wins the Abu Dhabi GP ahead of Nico Rosberg in second place and Sebastian Vettel in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton wins the Abu Dhabi GP ahead of Nico Rosberg in second place and Sebastian Vettel in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

But Hamilton leads Rosberg on the final lap of the race by 11.4 seconds and wins the Abu Dhabi GP, the 53rd win of his career. This result means that Hamilton has not won the championship.

Rosberg is a credible second 11.4 seconds behind Hamilton and becomes the 2016 F1 drivers Champion. The title win means that Rosberg now follows in the footsteps of his father Keke who won the title in 1982 and makes him the second second-generation world champion after Damon Hill. Yas Marina’s dramatic finish capped a season which as ebbed and flowed between the Mercedes drivers and means that Hamilton was won the final four races of the year without winning the title.

Verstappen finished in a brilliant third place 0.8 seconds behind Hamilton, Verstappen was a credible fourth 1.6 seconds behind Hamilton. At the chequered flag, the top four were covered by 1.6 seconds. This then makes it one of the closest finishes in recent memory and a fitting climax to a close season between the Mercedes drivers who have shared 19 of the 21 victories this season.

Ricciardo finished fifth 5.3 seconds behind Hamilton. Raikkonen was sixth 18.8 seconds behind Hamilton, Hulkenberg was a brilliant seventh 50.1 seconds behind Hamilton, Perez was eighth 58.7 seconds behind Hamilton, Massa was ninth in his 250th GP and final race 59.4 seconds lap behind Hamilton and Alonso was tenth 59.8 seconds behind Hamilton.

Nico Rosberg is the 2016 F1 Driver’s Champion with 385 points, Lewis Hamilton is in second place with 380 points, Daniel Ricciardo in third place with 256 points, Sebastian Vettel is in fourth place with 212 points, Max Verstappen is in fifth place with 204 points,  Kimi Raikkonen is in sixth place with 186 points, Sergio Perez is in seventh place with 101 points, Valtteri Bottas is in eighth place with 85 points, Nico Hulkenberg is in ninth place with 72 points and Fernando Alonso is in tenth place with 54 points.

Mercedes are the Constructors Champions with 765 points, Red Bull is in second place with 468 points, Ferrari is in third place with 398 points, Force India is in fourth place with 173 points, Williams is in fifth place with 138 points, McLaren is in sixth place with 76 points, Toro Rosso is in seventh place with 63 points, Haas is in eighth place with 29 points, Renault is in ninth place with 8 points, Sauber is tenth with 2 points and Manor is in eleventh with 1 point.

Conclusion

I feel that McLaren have had an disappointing weekend with Button could not end his final race they way he deserved to and wanted to. And I am extremely sad that Button will not be racing next season as I have supported him straight from the beginning of his career in 2000, grew up watching him and I have been blessed to watch one of the best drivers on the grid.

I cannot thank Jenson for everything he has done for me personally and also for the sport that I adore. You will be missed.

But they managed to score a point with Alonso in tenth place. This is the best the team could have hoped for and I am not happy with their performance this weekend.  But McLaren have shown that despite their best efforts that the McLaren team have a lot of work to do in order to try and extract performance from their car but they are making small gains that are paying off for them in the last few races and they need to use this as inspiration for next season.

Massa and Perez had some battles to finish in ninth and eighth places on Sunday. They both battled with each other  for most of the race and they both deserved to get a point for their efforts on Sunday. And with Massa scoring his final points in his 250th GP start and his final race, this is the most fitting way to end his career in the sport as Perez can build upon this result for the 2017 season.

Hulkenberg had a bit of an action packed yet defensive race to finish seventh, but he scored more points for the Force India team who seem to be extracting a little bit more pace and performance out of their package. But there is still a lot of work to be done but the fact that Hulkenberg scored points again shows that he can deliver on the track.

Raikkonen did a good job to get sixth place and had a battle to get there. He drove a solid race  despite and he did a great job to secure some much needed points for his team after a good performance this weekend and it is clear that the car was working well for them as a result. This will only help him prepare for next year.

Ricciardo did a good job to get fifth place. He drove a solid race  despite what’s happened after the race and he did a great job to secure some much needed points for his team after a good performance this weekend and it is clear that the car was working well for them as a result. This will only help him prepare for next year.

Verstappen had a credible race to finish in fourth. It is a result that Verstappen needed after a challenging race and he should be happy; especially gaining the position during the race. He drove superbly but in a race where many expected him to finish and to maintain the momentum he has so far, he has managed to gain some points for the team and put himself in good stead for the 2017 season.

Vettel deserves a mention. He drove a solid race to third place and battled his way through to get these points. Just a damage limitation performance and the Mercedes team and showing that he cannot be discounted on putting in the best performance on the track, even when the odds are against him.

Rosberg drove a solid race to finish second on Sunday and has to be my driver of the day. He may not have had the race he wanted; and didn’t have a chance to try and get past but he did a great job to secure a podium on Sunday but gave him what he wanted which was the title.

All that is left to say about this race is that Hamilton deserved to win at Abu Dhabi, even if his tactics was questioned. He needed to in order to show that he cannot be discounted as a driver. He controlled  the race and did everything that he could do to try and win his fourth title.

But all I can say is that Rosberg didn’t put a foot wrong and drove the race he needed to do on Sunday to win his first word title. Rosberg celebrated the win by performing Vettel-esque donuts for the fans and has managed to win the title just like his father did in 1982. After watching his team mate win for the last three years, Rosberg has finally got the reward he deserved and simply did the job when it mattered the most.

Big Congratulations to Nico for winning the title and Congratulations to Mercedes to also winning the Constructors- you all did an brilliant job.

And that is the final race report that I will be writing for Jones on F1 until at least the 2018 season. I have in the last four years wrote about some memorable races and thank you for sharing and reading them.

I will be discussing a goodbye statement in the next few days as I move on to the next journey of F1 writing career.

Sarah

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Post-Qualifying Press Conference Transcript

_ony6515

Here’s the official transcript of the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Post-Qualifying Press Conference Transcript as provided by the FIA as follows:-

DRIVERS

1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes), 2 – Nico ROSBERG (Mercedes), 3 – Daniel RICCIARDO (Red Bull Racing)

TV UNILATERAL

Q: Lewis, congratulations, a fantastic lap, your 12th pole position of the year – that’s something you’ve not done before in your Formula One career, big number there – and what a time to do it?

Lewis Hamilton (referred here after as LH):- Yeah, well, I can’t believe I have 61. That’s four more to go to try and catch Ayrton. It’s been strange coming here this weekend, realising that these are going to be the last practice sessions, the last qualifying sessions with this car, which has been so incredible. You never know when you’re going to have a car like this ever again. I hope we have another one in the near future, maybe next year.

It’s been such a privilege driving this car. This weekend so far I’ve got the car in a real sweet spot, great work done by my engineers, faultless mechanics again; they have done an incredible job. Everybody back at the factory I just want to thank everyone. I wouldn’t have the 61 poles I have now if it wasn’t for them, so a big thank you to them. Yeah, perfect position for tomorrow.

Q: Same pattern both laps in the final part: a tiny bit slower than Nico in the first sector and then a good but quicker in the middle sector. Tell us how that came about?

LH: Yeah, first section… I knew I had pace throughout the rest of the lap, so I was relatively cautious… well, not cautious, but I didn’t overcook it into Turn One, so that’s really where the little bit of time was to Nico. Otherwise, the rest of the lap I had it really under control, so I just made sure I maximised those areas.

Q: Very well done. Coming to you Nico, as we say you were a tiny bit quicker in sector one, but a little bit down in sector two, but clearly, as long as you are sitting here tomorrow you will be world champion, so how disappointed can you feel about the outcome of this qualifying session?

Nico Rosberg (referred here after as NR):- Well, as I’ve said, I’ve come here to try to be on pole and try and win the race tomorrow. That’s what I love to do, so I’m not ecstatic about today. Lewis just did a great job and was a couple of tenths quicker. It just wasn’t possible for me to do that time today, even though I gave it everything. But as we know there are still opportunities tomorrow and for sure I’ll try and go for the win.

Q: You came running out of the team office wearing you headphones, singing as you went to the garage, so you were obviously feeling relaxed, but was it a rather tense first lap in Q1? There were a couple of mistakes there. And have you felt the tension this afternoon?

NR: Adrenalin is always there in qualifying, you know, for sure. But that’s what great about it, to really go on the edge, go to the limit, push flat out. And it was feeling good out there. I had a good balance and everything, so I was quite pleased. As qualifying went on it felt better and better and I got a good lap in in the end in Q3, but not good enough.

Q: Very well done. Coming to you Daniel, great lap in Q3 to get yourself up among the top three and starting tomorrow on the supersoft tyre. You were hedging your bets a little bit at the end of Q2 but you decided to stick with it. It’s not necessarily been the most successful tactic this year, but what makes you think it’s going to be a winner tomorrow?

Daniel Ricciardo (referred here after as DR):- We’ve got to try something. It seems to be a bit of a trend this year: if we are in a position to qualify on a different tyres, then we’ll try and see if it gives us an opportunity. Yeah, we’ll see what it does tomorrow. Hopefully it puts us in the fight. Beyond that I think Q3 was good. It was a pretty slow-starting qualifying session for me but we sort of chipped away at it and then in Q3 when it matters I felt like I had put in some good times. Happy – third was the target, hopefully we can be somewhere up here as well tomorrow.

Q: Very well done Daniel. Back to Lewis. A thought about the race then: You’ve been totally in control all weekend but you can’t control the outcome as far as Nico getting on the podium tomorrow. What’s the game plan for the race?

LH: Well, so far this weekend has just been solely focused on getting to this position, which I truly believed I could. And obviously it worked. I guess this evening and tomorrow we’ll sit and work with my engineers and strategist to full understand the scenario and what I’ve got to do. Obviously I want to get away and try and win this race. Yeah, I’m hopeful… when he [Daniel] was just talking there… he usually says ‘winner, winner, chicken dinner’… is that right, is that your saying? I kind of want him to be saying something similar to that tomorrow.

DR: You want me to win?

LH: No! Second, second, chicken… what’s the second one!?

DR: It doesn’t exist!

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Lewis, as you were saying a moment ago, half the job done in your stated target of dominating this race weekend. I just wonder how you’ve been feeling. You were here on Thursday, you were very philosophical, you were reflective and very relaxed. You seem to have carried that all the way through the weekend.

LH: Yeah. I tried to solely focus on doing myself proud, doing my team proud, doing my family proud – and doing Aki proud. I’ve come here with good energy. A lot of positive people around me and I’ve felt great in the car – as I have done really this latter part of the season. I actually felt great earlier on in the season. It’s kind of crazy to think I have 12 poles considering I didn’t even compete in three of them, so could have been the ultimate year of pole positions – but still I’m very, very grateful for the ones I have and I will hopefully continue to be driving like this in the future.

Q: Nico, we were talking a moment ago with Daniel about this decision to start on the supersofts. I guess from your point of view, given that you want a nice, clean start tomorrow, the fact that you should have that little bit of extra bite off the line with the ultrasoft in comparison, does that give you a little bit of comfort as you go to bed tonight?

NR: I hadn’t thought about that yet in that sense. I was still thinking about qualifying at the moment. But yeah, I guess, better to start the race and then we have to see how the ultrasofts hold up. But we’re very confident that we’ve chosen the right tyre for the best possible race tomorrow. So… optimistic.

Q: Daniel, one thing was clear yesterday from the long run pace, that you’re in the game when it comes to the race – perhaps more than you were in qualifying. So, is that the way it looks from your side of the garage?

DR: Yesterday it did. I think as sort-of predicted, Mercedes would pull a little bit more on us today in qualifying but we’ll see how the race comes back to us. I think that’s why we wanted to do something a little bit different as well and try the supersoft. Might just give us a bit more range at the start and then might put us more in the race towards the end. But yesterday, yeah we were strong on long runs, looks good. I think it’s going to be fun tomorrow. Obviously there’s the title on the line with these guys here, so it’s going to be interesting. Hopefully it’s fun throughout the pack and we can do something to make it even more exciting than it already is.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Viktor Bognar – Magyar Szo) Lewis, would you be satisfied with your own performance throughout the season if you win tomorrow but lose out to Nico in the Championship. And to Nico, would you be satisfied with your own performance throughout the season if you lose out to Lewis again tomorrow but win the Championship in the end.

LH: For me I guess I have no choice. Ultimately I came here to drive like I have been and I’ve always said, if I’ve performed at my best in these races and I can leave here knowing that I gave it everything and I performed at my best, then I can walk away being proud. Obviously had other things come in the way but managed to battle through all the different types of adversity that I’ve faced this year and I’m really proud of it.

NR: If it’s OK, let’s just do tomorrow’s race first. We’ll see how that goes and then we can talk as much as you want about all these kind of things – but for now I just want to stay focused on tomorrow.

Q: (Jerome Pugmire – Associated Press) Lewis, you mentioned that on the eve of the 2014 title decider, I think you said it was the only time you haven’t slept all night and it was the worst night’s sleep you’d had. You seem very zen, almost chilled and mellow. How are you approaching tomorrow? Are there any nerves or are you just taking it in your stride?

LH: I feel amazing. I’m sitting on pole right now so… I feel energetic, I feel confident, confident of  what I’ve been doing in the car. It’s a much different scenario to 2014. Obviously the reasoning of not being able to sleep then was because I’d worked so hard during the year and again, faced lots of different challenges throughout the year and I had more wins and yet that double points system could have just thrown everything into the wind.

It wasn’t really deserving, so that was really the only thing, and having lost the championship in 2007, knowing what that feels like, so it just played on my mind, but I have everything to gain tomorrow so it’s just the complete opposite in the spectrum  and yeah, super-excited about it.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Nico, in qualifying, 27 times in a row you have been in the top two without penalties. How would you explain that kind of consistency: 27 times in a row?

NR: I didn’t know that, yeah, of course, sounds good and for sure that’s one of the reasons why I am sitting here at the moment. I’m fighting for the championship at the last race. I’m sure it has been one of the key ingredients. In general, yeah, I’m proud of the season, proud of the season I’ve been able to do until now. It’s been a great year, my best so far but one race to go so let’s see.

Q: (Ysef Harding – Xiro Xone News) Daniel, when we talked yesterday, I asked you are you going to bring it tomorrow? Now you’re right there, behind these guys. Are you going to bring it tomorrow? Are you going to bring some energy? You have surprises. Don’t think about the question, no calculated answer. Are you going to bring it tomorrow?

DR: No. I wasn’t feeling your energy so… I don’t know. We’ll see. The question is, if I bring it tomorrow on track, are you going to bring it tomorrow night?

Q: (Livio Oricchio – GloboEsporte.com) Nico, if there is one moment where you have everything to lose it is at the start of the race. Do you reflect about that? Are you being more conservative? And if you are happy that third on the grid is Daniel instead of Max, in spite of Max’s fair but sometimes aggressive…

NR: Again, it’s something that’s a bit too much thinking. I like to stay on the positive side or on the optimistic side. The whole weekend counts. It’s never easy to try and win a race in F1. So yeah, I just want to keep it simple. Don’t think about what if or all these kind of things you were just mentioning now. That would be the wrong approach to do a good performance tomorrow.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action and Speed Sport) On a different subject, it looks like there will be standing starts next year after the safety car. What do you guys think about that and there could be a lot of marbles on the line for the drivers?

LH: Marbles where? It shouldn’t be much different to now, I should imagine. Yeah, they should clean it up for the start so generally not marbles there, but I guess for the restart maybe. That would be interesting.

NR: Is it confirmed? Teams agreed to it? Come on, let’s talk about that on Monday, come on, seriously. Afternoon; in the morning I’m not available.

DR: It’s terrible if you’ve got a 40s lead but great if you’re in second place. So, we’ll see. I think it will be… obviously it creates more variability again so if the race is looking a little bit stationary then that could definitely spice it up. There’s pros and cons. I think for fans it’s going to be more exciting.

Hamilton “super excited” with nothing to lose

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_Lewis_Hamilton14

In an interview with the media today, Lewis Hamilton says he is “super excited” for the final race of the 2016 Formula 1 season, knowing he has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The Briton heads into the race starting from pole position knowing he must win, but even that won’t be enough as he needs team-mate Nico Rosberg to encounter trouble and finish fourth or lower, therefore the championship is out of his hands.

In his interview with the media, Hamilton is happy with what he has achieved so far and is happy with how the weekend is shaping up. Hamilton said the following:-

‘It has been a great weekend so far. Today, this weekend, I got the car in the sweet spot and faultless mechanics again.

‘I knew I had pace throughout the rest of the lap. I didn’t overcook it into Turn 1, that was where there was a little bit of time [to gain], otherwise the rest of the lap I had it under control, so maximising those areas.

‘I am sitting on pole here right now. I feel energetic, I feel confident. Having lost the championship in 2007 – I knew what it felt like. But I have everything to gain tomorrow so I am super excited about it.’

No matter the outcome, Hamilton further says in his interview that he will be proud of what he’s achieved this season, with many of his lost points a result of reliability problems rather than driving errors, and knowing he’s done his best is what counts. Hamilton added the following:-

‘I came here to drive like I have been doing. If I perform at my best in these [last few] races I can be here knowing I gave everything and can walk away feeling proud.

‘I have other things coming away but managed to battle through all of the adversity I faced this year and I am proud of it.’

Manor “agree terms” with new investor

The new Manor Racing logo

The new Manor Racing logo

In an interview with the media today, Manor owner Stephen Fitzpatrick has confirmed he has “agreed terms” with a new investor that would help secure the team’s future heading into 2017.

Fitzpatrick confirmed reports that have been doing the rounds that Manor have been speaking with investors, however, could not go into detail. Fitzpatrick stated the following:-

‘I can’t talk too much about the specifics but we have been in discussions with several investors, well, for the last six months let’s say. One of the things I was quite clear on, right from the start, was that I accepted that in the current F1, money equals performance, so anything that was going to bring more funding to the team and help the team develop and progress I was very open and if that meant bringing another investor, even a majority investor, that was something I was happy to do.

‘We have agreed terms with an investor at the moment and we are still working through that and I can’t really talk more about the specifics.’

Manor were on track to finish this season tenth in the Constructors’ Championship ahead of the point-less Sauber team, however, lost that to Sauber when they finally scored at the penultimate grand prix in Brazil.

Fitzpatrick concedes further in his interview that losing P10, which is worth an estimated $11m, will also impact Manor’s deal with the investor. He added the following:-

‘The terms of our agreement have been re-finalised, let’s say. It was clear that in tenth place with one point on the board, two races left, that there are lots of scenarios and you plan for those in advance.

‘So from my point of view it’s disappointing but it’s not unexpected – or at least not a surprise.’

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Qualifying Review

Abu_Dhabi_Grand_Prix.JPG_843180934

But heading into Qualifying, it would seem that Mercedes are looking like the teams to beat heading into the session that look set to gain Pole Position ahead of the race on Sunday. But Ferrari, McLaren, Ferrari, Toro Rosso or Force India may spring a surprise and throw a spanner into the works based on their early pace and promise within the Practice sessions.

Let the battle for Pole Position begin…

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in Q1. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in Q1 and Q2. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

In Q1, we saw Lewis Hamilton topping the timesheets with a lap time of 1.39.487, Kimi Raikkonen was second, Sebastian Vettel was third, Max Verstappen was fourth, Nico Rosberg was fifth, Sergio Perez was sixth, Nico Hulkenberg was seventh, Daniel Ricciardo was eighth, Felipe Massa was ninth and Jenson Button rounded off the top ten finshers.

At the end of Q1 we lose Daniil Kvyat, Kevin Magnussen, Felipe Nasr, Esteban Ocon, Carlos Sainz Jr and Marcus Ericsson.

In Q2, we saw Hamilton topping the timesheets with a lap time of 1.39.382, Rosberg was second, Raikkonen was third, Verstappen was fourth, Vettel was fifth, Ricciardo was sixth,  Hulkenberg was seventh, Perez was eighth, Massa was ninth and Alonso rounded off the top ten finshers.

At the end of Q2 we lose Valtteri Bottas, Jenson Button, Esteban Gutierrez, Romain Grosjean, Jolyon Palmer and Pascal Wehrlein.

Let the battle for Pole Position begin…

Lewis Hamilton claims Pole Position for the Abu Dhabi GP ahead of Nico Rosberg in second place and Daniel Ricciardo in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton claims Pole Position for the Abu Dhabi GP ahead of Nico Rosberg in second place and Daniel Ricciardo in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

At the end of Q3, it was Hamilton who secured Pole Position for the Abu Dhabi GP with a lap time of 1.38.755. Rosberg qualified in second place 0.303 seconds behind Hamilton, Ricciardo is in third 0.834 seconds behind Hamilton, Raikkonen is fourth 0.849 seconds behind Hamilton and Vettel is fifth 0.906 seconds behind Hamilton.

Verstappen is sixth 1.063 seconds behind Hamilton, Hulkenberg in seventh 1.746 seconds behind Hamilton, Perez is eighth 1.764 seconds behind Hamilton, Massa is ninth 2.458 seconds behind Hamilton and Alonso rounds off the top ten finishers.

It would seem that Mercedes genuinely has the pace to challenge for the race win again this weekend despite their form in Qualifying. Both of the Mercedes drivers seem to have the cars underneath them to do this and have been consistent and fast throughout every session so far this weekend; even if Hamilton has a challenge on his hands to get a result this weekend.

You cannot discount Ricciardo, Verstappen or Raikkonen even to be challenging also for the race win and could also be the dark horses to take the win away from Mercedes (and also Ferrari in Mercedes’ case) that could see gaining some points on their rivals to kick start their Constructors Championship.

Hulkenberg, Perez, Alonso and Massa could also have a decent race and pick up some much needed points for their respective teams. Will it rain? I do not know. Who will win the Grand Prix on Sunday? I really don’t know.

But let’s see what happens on the Yas Marina circuit on race day on Sunday…

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Practice Review

Abu_Dhabi_Grand_Prix.JPG_843180934

Lewis Hamilton wins the Brazilian GP ahead of Nico Rosberg in second place and Max Verstappen in third place. Sauber, Williams, Ferrari and Force India all managed to score some much needed points at the event.

This is the last race of the 2016 season and also the last race weekend that Jones on F1 will be covering for at least a year due to myself deciding to focus on my F1 and Formula E coverage for Driving for Pleasure for 2017.

The Yas Marina Circuit is located on Yas Island, about 30 minutes from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Approximately 50,000 spectators can view the action on the circuit from permanent, covered grandstands that protect visitors from the desert sun. It is the only F1 motorsports venue in the world where all of the grandstands are covered.

The Yas Marina Circuit is 5.55 kilometers long and can be split into two smaller tracks of 3.1 kilometers and 2.4 kilometers, which can operate simultaneously where desired. A total of 21 corners with 9 right turns and 12 left turns. The width of the circuit fluctuates from 12-16 meters. The direction is anti-clockwise. The track has a lot of hairpins and long straights and there is few potential overtaking places. The pit lane entry is very challenging, as is the exit, which runs underneath the track in a tunnel.

At 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand prix, for the first time in Formula 1 history, a race was scheduled to start in daylight and end during night-time. The race was started approximately one hour before sunset. The permanent lighting system was turned on from the start of the race to ensure a seamless transition from daylight to dark.

The world’s largest indoor theme park, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, is also located on Yas Island. The park hosts more than 20 rides and attractions. One of the attractions, Formula Rossa, has the same G force one would feel driving in an F1 car and braking at maximum speed. It is the world’s fastest roller coaster, powered through the 2.07 km track at speeds up to 240 km/h, reaching 0-100 km/h in less than two seconds. It is so intense that passengers have to protect their eyes with goggles.

Practices 1, 2 and 3

The main headline from the Practice sessions is that Mercedes look to have the driver-car package to beat this weekend as weather conditions and tyre management which will test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1 and FP2.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1 and FP2.

Practice 1 saw Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheet with a time of 1.42.869 followed closely by Nico Rosberg with a gap of 0.374 seconds behind, Max Verstappen was in third with a gap of 0.428 seconds behind, Daniel Ricciardo in fourth with a gap of 0.493 seconds behind and Sebastian Vettel in fifth with a gap of 1.136 seconds behind Hamilton.

Sergio Perez was in sixth with a gap of 1.286 seconds behind, Kimi Raikkonen was in seventh with a gap of 1.687 seconds behind, Carlos Sainz Jr was eighth with a gap of 1.816 seconds behind, Felipe Massa was ninth with a gap of 2.170 behind and Marcus Ericsson was tenth with a gap of 2.299 seconds behind Hamilton.

During FP1, Romain Grosjean was unhappy with his Haas and reported that he lost the car three times on left-handers before a spin at Turn 1, which damaged his tyres and ended his session early.

Also Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat was bottom of the timesheets after completing just four laps having had his running cut short when he picked up a left-rear puncture and had to park on track.

Practice 2 saw Hamilton tops the timesheet with a time of 1.40.861 followed closely by Rosberg with a gap of 0.079 seconds behind, Vettel was in third with a gap of 0.269 seconds behind,  Verstappen in fourth with a gap of 0.528 seconds behind and Ricciardo in fifth with a gap of 0.529 seconds behind Hamilton.

Raikkonen was in sixth with a gap of 0.603 seconds behind,  Bottas was in seventh with a gap of 1.098 seconds behind, Perez was eighth with a gap of 1.180 seconds behind, Hulkenberg was ninth with a gap of 1.403 behind and Massa was tenth with a gap of 1.407 seconds behind Hamilton.

During FP2, Toro Rosso drivers Carlos Sainz Jr and Daniil Kvyat completed only nine laps between them and sat out much of the 90-minute session. This followed Daniil Kvyat suffered his second left-rear puncture of the day, having suffered a similar fate in practice one, and spinning at Turn 17.

At the latter part of the session, Vettel suffered a gearbox failure on his Ferrari and had to stop on the track with the marshals safely recovering the car from the circuit.

He returned to the pits, with F1 technical delegate Jo Bauer and the team inspecting Kvyat’s wheel, and neither Toro Rosso returned to the track again.

Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets in FP3.

Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets in FP3.

Practice 3 saw Vettel topping the timesheet with a time of 1.40.775 followed closely by Verstappen with a gap of 0.137 seconds behind, Raikkonen was in third with a gap of 0.224 seconds behind,  Hamilton in fourth with a gap of 0.290 seconds behind and Rosberg in fifth with a gap of 0.393 seconds behind Vettel.

Ricciardo was in sixth with a gap of 1.056 seconds behind,  Perez was in seventh with a gap of 1.110 seconds behind, Hulkenberg was eighth with a gap of 1.292 seconds behind, Bottas was ninth with a gap of 1.301 behind and Gutierrez was tenth with a gap of 1.579 seconds behind Vettel.

During FP3, Toro Rosso returned to the track after stopping running in yesterday’s session amid concerns it and the FIA had about safety following two punctures believed to be car-related.

You would be stupid not to bet against the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg to gain pole position again this weekend. As the Mercedes drivers seem to be performing brilliantly at the moment and the momentum is with them from all the track mileage and their strong form from the last race. Vettel, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, or Verstappen also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top ten places at the moment.

However, I think that Williams, Force India or even McLaren have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here to be in the hunt for some decent points this weekend. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…

2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Team Principals Press Conference Transcript

_31i6106

TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Toto WOLFF (Mercedes), Stephen FITZPATRICK (Manor), Otmar SZAFNAUER (Force India), Monisha KALTENBORN (Sauber), Claire WILLIAMS (Williams)

PRESS CONFERENCE

Q: Monisha, can we start with you? Congratulations on the points in Brazil. Describe the emotions and the reaction within the team?

Monisha Kaltenborn (referred here after as MK):- Well of course it was very relieving considering that it was a long race. You didn’t know are we really going to make it to the end with the points, because you could see how Manor was right behind us and it was so important that the car stays in the race and we could see other cars coming, overtaking us.

Yeah, it was a bit of a nightmare. We were all extremely relieved. They are so important for all of us, these points. It’s not only financially, which of course plays a role, but also of course for the morale of the team. We didn’t want to end the season again like we did in 2014. So it was extremely relieving on the track and of course at home as well.

Q: We had your driver Felipe Nasr, who of course delivered those two points, in the press conference yesterday. He says he hopes it’ll swing things his way. If you do confirm that 10th place in Sunday what does it do for his chances?

MK: Well, there is no direct link there you know. We have our options, we are looking at them and we know Felipe very well. We’re just going to continue our assessment and when we’re ready we’ll announce.

Q: OK, thank you. Stephen, coming to you, welcome to your first FIA Press Conference. You rescued Manor a couple of years ago from administration, what has team ownership been like in the interim?

Stephen Fitzpatrick (referred here after as SF):- I can recommend it to anyone. It’s been a fascinating two years. It has been exhilarating, races like Bahrain this year, obviously Austria and then Brazil. So lots of ups and downs. But also humbling I would say. Coming into this sport as a beginner let’s say, but as a lifelong fan, but new to the inside of the sport, you don’t quite appreciate just how many things you need to get right to bring two cars home at the end of a race and I’ve learned a lot about just how difficult it is to build a car, to race the car, to put the team together.

So I would say I’m full of respect for the people around me in the sport, the other teams, the other team principals. It’s been a huge challenge, but also a little bit frustrating. One of the things that makes sport great is the belief that anything can happen and we didn’t come into the sport, or I didn’t come into the sport believing that we would win races or be on the podium in our first couple of years but to be in a sport like F1 you have to believe that incredible can happen and one of the challenges we have at the moment is that that sport has become very predictable.

It’s a problem for all of us here, even Toto – who’s winning almost too much – and maybe it’s even becoming a problem for him. I think that’s one of the big frustrations and I think it’s clear that it takes a long time to build a great F1 team. We’ve made a big step forward from 2015 to 2016 but there’s a lot of work still to do clearly.

Q: There are some stories in the press this week about your team being sold and you CEO appears to have confirmed it. What can you tell us about that?

SF: Well, I can’t talk too much about the specifics but we have been in discussions with several investors, well, for the last six months let’s say. One of the things I was quite clear on, right from the start, was that I accepted that in the current F1, money equals performance, so anything that was going to bring more funding to the team and help the team develop and progress I was very open and if that meant bringing another investor, even a majority investor, hat was something I was happy to do. We have agreed terms with an investor at the moment and we are still working through that and I can’t really talk more about the specifics.

Q: Thank you for that. Otmar, coming to you, another championship dogfight going on a bit further up the grid involving you. It’s looking good for beating Claire’s team to P4. How have you done it?

Otmar S zafnauer (referred here after as OS:)- Well, we’re not there yet. We’ve got this weekend to go and we’ll work hard, as we usually do, to perform to the best of our ability and hopefully that will result in fourth place. That’s what we’re shooting for. But the building blocks have been put in place for the last five or six years, it’s not something that happens overnight.

We’ve been working towards having a better team and a more performant car for a good six years and there’s a lot that goes in it: good decision-making; having the right tools and the right people, having the right engine partner – thanks for that, Toto – but also understanding the tyres, aerodynamically efficient car. You’ve got to do all those things and then the performance comes. Not to mention two good drivers.

Q: Esteban Ocon joins you next year. It’s been a while since you’ve had a young driver, a relative rookie in fact. What are your expectations and why did you go for him over other candidates?

OS: Well, we deliberated long and hard. We know Esteban and that helps. We ran him in two different tests and we were impressed with both his speed and his ability to learn, and also with his attitude to racing and his attitude towards learning and we thought he was a good fit for us and that’s why we chose him over some of the others.

Q: Thanks for that. Claire, you’ve not been at a race for a while, we understand that you have been with your father. How is Frank?

Claire Williams (referred here after as CW):- He is good now, thank you. He is on the mend. It’s nice to be back at the track.

Q: As we were just hearing from Otmar, it’s beginning to look like P4 is slipping away from you. How did that happen from your side?

CW: I don’t think we’ve delivered where we needed to deliver this year, across a number of key elements. I’m not going to go into detail on the areas of weakness we have in the team this year, but we know where those weaknesses are and we just need to make sure that we improve upon those areas over the winter.

But Force India have done a fantastic job. You asked him where they are where they are and they have just done a better job than we have and we need to look into that. We don’t want to finish fifth in the world championship. It’s a bit of a disappointment having come third in two consecutive seasons, in 2014 and 2015. We just need to do a better job.

Q: With that in mind, tell us about your expectations for Lance Stroll, he’ll be joining you next year, he’ll be 18. After all for Williams to compete for third, fourth place in the championship, he’s going to have score a lot of points?

CW: Yeah, he is. The Constructors’ Championship is really important for us at Williams and we need to have two strong drivers in our car. Obviously off the back of Felipe’s decision to retire we had a number of options available to us. Lance has been part of a development programme that we’ve run since about this time last year and I think that he’s absolutely proved that he has the credentials to come into Formula One next year and we’re delighted that we were able to make that decision.

He has dominated in F3 this year and he’s won the F4 championship. He’s absolutely got the talent, we feel. As with any rookie when they come into Formula One you’ve got to give them a bit of slack in the beginning but we are going to have high expectations of him next year, but anyone that has meet Lance knows and understands that he deserves that promotion into Formula One and he’s extremely intelligent, he’s a very quick learner, we’ve learned that through the work that we have done with him in the ‘3-to-1’ programme, and he’s incredibly charming and I think he’s going to be a great addition to the paddock next year.

I think it’s nice to see… as much as it’s sad to be losing a couple of the Formula One legend drivers that we have I think it’s going to be really exciting next year to have a number of rookies lining up on the grid.

Q: Ok thank you. Toto, you win too much! For the second time in three years your drivers have a title showdown here in Abu Dhabi. How do you assess their mindset and I’d be interested to know how does it differ from the first time they were in this position back in 2014? How have they matured and matured in relation to each other, in their mindset and what you see this weekend?

Toto Wolff (referred here after as TW):- Obviously the longer you work with each other the better you get to know each other and it’s the third season that we have had a car that was able to win races and win championships. I said it before, that in the last couple of races we had a great amount of serene… almost a serene environment. Very good for the team because they have worked together to make the car faster.

Very productive and then it was very good for the dynamics within the team. Although, I must say that the championship was getting tougher and tougher for both of them. It was clear that they would be the greatest rivals for winning the Drivers’ title and we’ve seen that this weekend is somehow a bit different; you can see that there is pressure coming up, which I guess is pretty normal at this stage of the season.

Q: Red Bull looked fast this afternoon and earlier on in the long runs, but I’m interested, has the gap really closed up at the back end of the season or have you just done enough to keep everybody at arm’s length?

TW: We have seen over the last couple of races that the gaps between us and Red Bull and Ferrari have stayed pretty stable, for the simple reason that everybody must have switched off development of the 2016 car. Not all at the same time, there will have been teams that have done it sooner than others, but what you see now in terms of performances gaps or the difference in performance gap, is that somebody just gets it right on a particular track with a set of tyres, but generally it’s been on a similar level for the last, I would say, four or five races.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta Dello Sport): Toto, you know what Lewis said here in the press conference yesterday about the mechanics, the book and so on. I would like to have your comment and that you don’t have any regret over that decision at the beginning of the season?

TW: You know it’s always dangerous because there is one statement that is being picked out from a press conference between the two of them and as I said before I find it very remarkable how they’ve managed the relationship between the two of them for the benefit of the team, taking into consideration that it must be very intense and very high pressure for them. So that one comment was taken out and it is clear that if you change a crew that is directly involved with a drivers, such as mechanics or a number one that a driver constantly looks at when he’s pulling out of the garage, it can have a psychological effect and we acknowledged that and it was part of our thinking when we shuffled it around.

But as a matter of fact we are 1,500 people in Brixworth and Brackley and it’s about developing personnel. Somebody who was working on one corner of the car today as a mechanic might be a number one next year, might be a chief mechanic afterwards and maybe has even more potential within the organisation.

In a similar way we have done all through the organisation we are not keeping it static. It’s a dynamic structure and the same happens in the garage. This is a fact. I appreciate the effect on the singular driver and it was taken into consideration and maybe I’ll write a book in 10 years and we’ll put some things in there.

Q: (Ysef Harding – Xero Xone News) To follow up on that question Toto. Isn’t it important to keep your number one satisfied and to give him the best of everything he needs to be successful – especially in the beginning of the season when he was aiming for a fourth world championship?

TW: It’s very important. It is, in terms of keeping the performance up in the team, you need to consider what your high-performance need; what kind of environment they need, what kind of framework they need in order to perform best. And we’ve considered that. And there is not just one position like the chief mechanic that is important for the performance of the team and the drivers but we have to take decisions for many, many hundreds of people and develop them.

It is our duty and obligation towards these 1500 people and the great brand to take the right decisions and not one single individual – although taking into mind what is important for the driver itself. What you are seeing here on the race track is the tip of the iceberg. And by the sheer nature there is a large block underneath that brings performance and has brought the team to where we are today. And part of that is to have the most effective organisation. Not only today but also tomorrow – and that is just part of the normal procedure.

But if you knew that was going to psychologically affect your number one driver, why would you make that decision?

TW: I’ve explained it to you already once before that weekend. There’s 1500 and we need to take care that these 1500 perform well. Not one. 1500.

Q: (Jerome Pugmire – AP) Question for Toto. You said that the pressure is coming up. Just speaking about Nico, do you think that this season he’s been able to deal with pressure better and perhaps he’s a bit more focussed and blocking things out more than he was in the previous two campaigns?

TW: Yes, he deals with it very well and there is nothing that somehow affects him. This is at least my impression. Whether it’s a difficult weekend, he has learned to assess it in the right way at the right time and move on – or whether it’s a good weekend, to stay humble, both feet on the ground and try to understand why that was. Whether spirits are high or spirits are down it was all pretty stable with him – and certainly, as far as I can see, that is one of the keys why he’s leading the championship today.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Stephen, the Brazilian Grand Prix was obviously from a personal perspective, your own perspective, rather disappointing. Can you try and tell us exactly how you felt when you realised that the cost of this could possibly run to $13 or $15million and potentially even more in the longer term?

SF: Yeah, I think the first reaction wasn’t really a financial one. It would have been a very exciting race and coming to the end of what was an exhilarating season, lots of ups and downs. We had held tenth place for, I think, ten races, Brazil was number ten and at many points during the race there were lots of different scenarios and there was a lot of furious calculations about finishing the race at different points throughout.

The first reaction I had was one of real disappointment for the team. I think they’ve worked incredibly hard for the last, let’s say, 18 months since the start of last season without much reward and it looked like we were heading for a tenth-place finish which was a big step forward for us. So one of immediate disappointment for the team who worked so hard all year back at the factory and here on the circuit.

But my next reaction was actually one of… I thought of the opposite feeling that must be going on in the Sauber garage and I thought that the guys in the Sauber team had been fantastic competitors for us all year, we’d enjoyed a great battle with them and I knew how much those points meant to the Sauber team and I was trying to imagine the joy they would be having and they worked so hard all season to bring it back in the end.

So in the end I think the season doesn’t come down to one race. Obviously the way the points are structured that was a critical race for us. Very unexpected. But that’s racing. On that day it didn’t go our way but I think we all want to see more of that unpredictability, that excitement. So, in the end, it was a difficult night, let’s say, and then back to business.

Q: (Graham Harris – Motorsport Monday) Question for Stephen again, and Monisha. Monisha, potentially for you, you could have tenth place locked in at the end of the season. Both teams, Monisha, you’ve got a new investor on-board already, Stephen you potential have a new investor on-board. Does the swapping of positions have any influence on the business decisions made. Obviously it’s more attractive for you Monisha but Stephen, does that put your deal in any particular jeopardy or is it going to hurt you financially? Things planned that you can’t do?

SF: It doesn’t help financially but the terms of our agreement have been… refinalised, let’s say. It was clear that in tenth place with one point on the board, two races left, that there are lots of scenarios and you plan for those in advance, so, from my point of view it’s disappointing but it’s not unexpected – or at least not a surprise.

Not a deal-breaker?

SF: Not a deal-breaker. And, most importantly, we’re not finished yet. We’re looking good today, at least, on Friday, so we’ve still got one race left.

MK: Well, in our case, the investors came in at a time when we were on P11, so the risks were very well known. So the risks were very well known. And of course we said we are going to do all we can to actually still get to P10. So, it looks better if you end the season, of course,  on P10, that’s clear – but there’s not any other impact.

[off-mic follow-up] adding more staff?

MK: Well no. As I said, with the investors we have, our future is secured. There’s nothing out there that would cause us any dramas like in the past – but you simply look better if you have our business case and if you have that additional funding it’s just easier to achieve what you want in your business case.

Q: (René Hofmann– Süddeutsche Zeitung) I wanted to ask all five of you, concerning the upcoming season: what the rule changes mean for your particular team, what are your hopes, what the challenges you’re facing?

OS: Well, for a team like ours it’s a big challenge, starting over without any carryover parts whatsoever has a massive impact on us – so it’s a big challenge. We also don’t have some of the infrastructure in place of the bigger teams. We source a lot of our parts to suppliers; we don’t make them ourselves – so that adds extra time. So yeah, it’s a big challenge. Our hopes are we’ve done a good job and others have screwed-up!

Claire?

CW: We hope the same! That everyone else has screwed-up as well. No, y’know, for us, fortunately we’re in quite a comfortable financial position at the moment and with the regulations coming out when they did, we were able to start development work on next year’s car pretty early but that’s not to say we know where our performance is.

Nobody does until we get to the first test and probably not until we get to the first few races where we know where everybody shakes out. But I think it presents a great opportunity for Formula One to potentially shake up the order. I hope that we’ve found something spectacular over the winter.

I know that the guys back at the factory have worked really hard on next year’s car to try and find that performance and improve upon where we finish this year’s championship next year. But I think we just have to wait and see. For the sport, I think it’s pretty exciting.

Monisha?

MK: Well, we share that hope as well. We know that we have to take a very big step ahead so we see these rule changes as an opportunity because we want to be back next year in the midfield and we now also have the means to do that. Overall, we do hope that it’s going to make the sport exciting. I think everyone’s been quite critical about certain things which have been introduced so let’s just hope and see if it really mixes up the grid and we have something different next year.

Stephen?

SF: Well, interestingly in 2016 we had to build a completely new car: Manor didn’t build a 2015 car because of the administration, so we feel that we’ve been through this already. There was such a big gap between where we were in 2014 and the other teams this year, so we’ve had to make that big step already.

I gave the team quite clear instructions this year they were to focus as much of their efforts as possibly on the 2016 programme until we were able to put some points on the board and try to secure tenth place. From Austria onwards the team have been working exclusively on the 2017 programme, so there’s been a lot of work gone in. We’ve really built up the resources of the team this year, we’ve moved to a great new facility; the wind tunnel facility at Mercedes and that’s led to a big step forwards in our aerodynamic development.

So the team are hopeful. The thing I guess I’m not really hoping for is that everyone else has screwed-up, because like I said, I’ve developed a lot of respect for all the other teams and I think that might be too much to hope for. It’s certainly going to be a very interesting 2017 season.

Toto, you pick up where you left off do you, next year?

TW: Yeah, I tend to go with Otmar! Honestly, we weren’t big supporters of a regulation change. Not because we wanted to freeze the current situation. It’s clear that when regulations stay stable that eventually performance is going to converge. But because we weren’t sure that it is the right way for Formula One.

But as it is, we are where we are and the cars, certainly in the wind tunnel, look very spectacular, very wide with the big tyres and I am personally very excited to see them on track for the first time. For the drivers it will be much harder; the cars will be pulling more g through the corners. The simulations that we have seen are very exciting.

The corners will be flat that are far from flat today – and we will be breaking records in terms of lap time. So, I guess, an exciting season that will be ahead of us. I hope that overtaking is not going to be too difficult because of the width of the car and the dirty air behind it – but let’s see. In hindsight, now that we are where we are, we have to do the best out of it.

Q:  (Andrew Benson – BBC Sport) Stephen, when this investment deal happens, will you still be involved and/or in charge? Is it a buy-in or a buy-out?

SF: I’m not going to talk anything about the specifics.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) To Toto specifically but if the others would like to join in please feel free. Toto, you’ve been on the strategy group since its inception basically. Do you honestly believe that it best serves Formula One’s interests? At the latest one, for example, I believe the teams on either side of you put in certain proposals. These were blocked before they could even reach the Formula One commission so therefore they can’t be voted on properly. Does this really work and is there an alternative to this because there’s been an awful lot of criticism about the group?

TW: You are a number one fan of the strategy group, we’ve found out. It is what it is. In Formula One, the difficulty is that every team has got to have an opinion and it is very much focused of course on your own performance but then we are responsible enough, within the group, to take into consideration what’s good for Formula One and most recently I’ve seen a development that even within the very big rivals on the strategy group and in the F1 commission there is consensus and we’re trying to seek consensus.

Some of the things are not being accepted or not voted on. You refer to two specific proposals which, with all due respect to my friend Otmar, were on the agenda half a year ago. They were referred to the technical regulations meeting, so the competent group, not the dangerous group!

The competent group decided that it was not the right way forward and for whatever reason these regulations appeared back on the agenda on the strategy group and this is why it was voted against, that is the fact. But that governance is in place until 2020 and if there is a possibility that we can improve it next time around in order to better the approval process, I’m the first one to vote in favour.

SF: I never attended this strategy group. I have no idea what happens in the strategy group but I joked earlier on that Toto and Mercedes were winning too many races and maybe it’s been a problem for him but really I know that the Mercedes team is a fantastic organisation and has earned these victories but the sport is not a level playing field, that’s pretty obvious and the structure of the F1 commission and the F1 strategy group is part of that bigger picture.

And I think the sport will be much improved and speaking now, as the eleventh placed team this weekend, I know that it’s obviously what I will be saying but the sport will be much improved with a leveller playing field and how that comes about and all of the necessary components – whether financial, organisational, structurally – I think it’s something that should be looked at for the benefit of everybody on the grid but it’s a very complex picture.

Q: (Jerome Pugmire – AP) Toto, there have been some stressful moments this season. If you were to give your podium of the top three between the first lap incident in Spain, the last lap in Austria and the engine failure for Lewis when he was about to win, which is the one-two-three for you?

TW: You mean number one is the worst one? Shall we start from the back? Third place, for me, of the worst races is certainly Lewis’s engine failure in Malaysia because it heavily influenced his championship.  He was in the lead, solid in the lead in a race – in races –  where it was going back and forth with Nico. Nico had a great race in Singapore which he dominated. Then Malaysia was very much Lewis’s weekend and it continued that way in – what was the next one? – Suzuka, Mexico.

So that’s third place – and it came out of nowhere, really, so still a bit of a traumatic race. Number two? Barcelona. It’s rare that you have a complete wipe-out, one and two in the front and you end up with zero points and for the team, obviously not a nice situation. We stood in front of the screens… I remember, I had the CEO of Daimler, Dieter Zetsche, next to me and he says ‘what are we doing now?’ which was a new experience.

But it was OK because it didn’t happen for a long time, since Spa 2014. So number one, for me, the worst, was Austria because it came a couple of races after Barcelona. We made it very clear that we saw Barcelona as a one-off and wasn’t acceptable going forward and here we go, we’re on the last lap of that particular race at the Red Bull-ring, home turf for our great rivals and we nearly lose both cars on the last lap, being in one and two. This is where, for me, the mark was over-stepped and we made that clear, but that was my winner. Not.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action and Speed Sport)  Monisha, Banco do Brasil announced today they will not sponsor Felipe next year. How much of an impact does that have on you deciding if he remains with the team?

MK: Well that’s correct that the bank informed us as well that they’ve interrupted their 2017 sponsorship programme. Our seat is still open. We aren’t choosing that in our assessments we’re making and that’s all there is to say of it.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) On that vein, Toto, your driver Pascal Wehrlein, Mercedes driver, has basically only got one chance left for a seat next year. Could you see him actually racing in a car with a Ferrari engine?

TW: It’s two, two chances.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines) Yes, but then you’d have to provide a budget, wouldn’t you?

TW: First of all, I must say, really, having had the opportunity with Esteban and Pascal in Manor was great and the development slope of that team is impressive and it’s a great place for both of them and Manor is still very much an opportunity for next year. Well obviously Esteban is going to Force India and we are in discussion with Monisha and in discussion with Stephen and his management group and nothing is decided yet. That’s where we are.

Q: (Andrea Cremonesi – La Gazzetta dello Sport)  Toto, do you think that at this moment Lewis Hamilton fully trusts your team or if not are you doing something to rebuild the relationship?

TW: Absolutely trusts. We under-estimate the pressure under which these guys are, not only in the spotlight of a global audience. You have to deliver every single weekend, you have to race your teammate, it’s down to the last race to win the championship and it’s all coming up, all the frustrations and all the happy moments.

If a microphone is being put under the nose and you’re being asked the right question, sometimes it produces a good headline like it did yesterday. For me, it’s a bit of a boomerang which keeps coming back, this odd story which internally in the team is a closed chapter and we will not come back to this so it doesn’t change anything in my approach to Lewis or an approach towards Lewis because I think it’s well understood that things are sometimes taken out of context, sometimes over-exaggerated and as I said before, sometimes you just need to allow that the drivers can express their feelings and their emotions.

We don’t want to streamline them too much.

Q: (Ysef Harding – Xiro Xone News) Claire and Monisha, we’ve seen a lot of history for women this year. We saw the second female prime minister elected and we also saw the first female elected for president of the United States. As two pioneers in this sport, what are your hopes for the future for women on the business side and on the track in F1?

CW: That’s a nice question! I think what you see across probably a wide variety of industries in recent years and particularly what you see in the UK with Theresa May coming in as our first female prime minister for – what is it? – three decades I think,  that the landscape is shifting slowly but surely. I think there is a lot of work to do but personally – I don’t know what Monisha does – but I go out and do a lot of talks about women in industry and promoting females in not just leadership roles but throughout different sorts of organisations and I think that’s really important and I think one of the things about Formula One that you don’t necessarily…  yes, you see Monisha and I in the roles that we’re in but there are so many women now who are working across different areas within Formula One, across different disciplines within teams, whether that be in aerodynamics, within engineering, not just the traditional marketing roles and I think that’s a really important shift that we’re seeing in our sport and I think that that can be used as case studies and great story telling, to go out into different businesses because I think if you can be a woman and do well in Formula One.

I think that’s a very powerful message but personally for me, it’s not necessarily about gender and it shouldn’t be about gender I think. But every individual brings different personalities to the roles that they do and particularly in a sport like this, where you have to operate at your peak performance if you’re going to be successful and achieve and that’s what every team is going after, it’s the people who are at the best at their jobs.

If they’re going to win in this sport then it shouldn’t necessarily be about gender, it should be about how good you are at your job and how committed and dedicated and what you can do, the team around you. But I would like to see more women come in to Formula One and I would like to see more women come into industry as a whole. I think it’s a really important conversation that we’re having in society as a whole at the moment.

MK: Yeah, like Claire said, you see that there are far more women in Formula One. It’s been happening over the last few years, actually, where you simply see more on the track. I think the most important responsibility we have here is to actually encourage people to give women the opportunity, because that’s what it’s about. You have enough women out there who have the education, who have the competence and the confidence to actually get the job done at least equally as good and usually they have to be a little bit better to maybe get the same kind of recognition, so what you really need is to give women a fair chance and opportunity.

Q: And it was a woman in charge of strategy in your team who played a part in bringing you the points in Brazil, right?

MK: Absolutely. We gave one a chance.