It’s not often you get an immediate shot at redemption in Formula 1 and it’s even less often that that shot is to redeem your previous shot at redemption, but that’s where Valtteri Bottas finds himself after Saturday in Abu Dhabi.
Blowing his chance to snag his third win of the season – and first since Austria – last time out in Brazil, Bottas now gets one final opportunity to make up for what has been a largely underwhelming second half of 2017.
By far his largest margin over second this season (his previous best was 0.042s in Austria), it’s fair to suggest his 0.172s advantage over Lewis Hamilton represents his best qualifying effort of the year. Perhaps his teammate would’ve been closer had the stakes been higher – it’s rare to see Hamilton so content with a P2 – but take nothing away from Bottas, he was as composed as he was quick. Now, he just has to do it on a Sunday.
Book Closes on 2017 Qualifying Battles
With all the shenanigans that go on in races, it’s not always possible to make a direct comparison between teammates. No, it’s not perfect either, but how drivers compare on Saturdays – in qualifying – is usually a better indication of their true pace, and with the final qualifying session of the season completed, the scores are in:
- Hamilton v Bottas: Hamilton wins 13-7
- Vettel v Raikkonen: Vettel wins 15-5
- Ricciardo v Verstappen: Verstappen wins 13-7
- Ocon v Perez: Perez wins 13-7
- Massa v Stroll: Massa wins 16-3 (Massa missed Hungary)
- Grosjean v Magnussen: Grosjean wins 12-8
- Sainz v Teammates: Sainz wins 11-9 (8-6 Kvyat, 2-0 Gasly, 1-3 Hulkenberg)
- Hulkenberg v Teammates: Hulkenberg wins 18-2 (15-1 Palmer, 3-1 Sainz)
- Alonso v Vandoorne: Alonso wins 14-5 (Alonso missed Monaco)
- Ericsson v Wehrlein: Wehrlein wins 11-7 (Wehrlein missed Australia and China)
So who stood out? On the ‘closer than you thought’ side, Bottas and certainly Ericsson did well to keep things respectable, albeit not well enough to change any perceptions moving forward. Carlos Sainz was surprisingly close (is Kvyat underrated?), while his new teammate Hulkenberg was ridiculously dominant. On the negative side, Raikkonen, Stroll, Palmer and even Vandoorne were convincingly outdone, albeit with Kimi and Stoffel were going up against two of the greatest drivers ever. Certainly, Stroll and Palmer don’t have that excuse, and in hindsight, it seems like neither belonged in F1 at all this year.
- Twenty races in, it’s nice to see Fernando Alonso finding new ways to take cracks at McLaren-Honda
- It’s safe to say Saturday didn’t go the way they wanted at Toro Rosso. Nico Hulkenberg starting P7 certainly won’t help matters either
- Great to see Felipe Massa still making noise in his final race. Let’s hope his send-off tomorrow is just as brilliant
Race Tyre-Strategy Preview, Courtesy of Pirelli
With the very low tyre degradation we have noticed during the whole weekend, the theoretical quickest pit-stop strategy predicted by Pirelli is as follows:
- ONE-STOPPER: 1 stint on ultrasoft for 15-30 laps + 1 stint on supersoft to the flag.
This strategy also works the other way around for those starting outside the top 10