With both 2019 Formula 1 World Championships titles wrapped up long ago – making it 12 in six years – Mercedes boss Toto Wolff decided to skip the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend and, by coincidence or not, his team endured their second-worst performance of the season.
Only in Germany, earlier this year, were they worse suggesting Wolff’s role within the team is far more than merely saying the right things on TV.
At Interlagos, Lewis Hamilton qualified third and finished seventh while Valtteri Bottas was fifth in qualifying but crashed out in the race the following day. Well below par for a team which only twice this season their drivers did not score points – in other words, 40 times they were in the points out of a possible 42.
In his preview of the Anu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend, Wolff did not mince his words, “Brazil was a disappointing race for us; we did not have the fastest car on track and we lost a lot of points owing to our own mistakes.
“We analysed what went wrong, both in terms of our reliability and our decisions during the race, to make sure we don’t repeat them. It was a good learning experience for the entire team and something that will make us stronger in the long run.”
Not used to losing, the true test is how the Silver Arrows will bounce back and can they find the magic that gave them the edge for the past half a dozen years?
Wolff continued, “The underperformance in Brazil means we head to Abu Dhabi with a point to prove. Yas Marina has been a good circuit for us in the last years and we’ll push hard to continue in the same way.
“The race is one last opportunity for us to add another victory to the record of the W10 and it’s one more chance to put on a great show for the fans before the winter break. We’re looking forward to the fight because we know that in Formula One, you’re only as good as your last result.
This season has been a real rollercoaster for us. We’ve seen great on-track battles and we’ve loved the competition. We are very proud that we came out on top and managed to put the Mercedes name in the history books of Formula One with our sixth consecutive double title. On the other hand, it’s been an incredibly hard year where we had to say goodbye to too many friends.
“We were hit hard by the passing of Charlie, Niki and Anthoine, as well as important members from our team who we have tragically lost this year.
“At Mercedes, Niki left a void that we will never be able to replace – as a source of inspiration, as a voice of reason, but most importantly as a great friend. We hope we did you proud, Niki,” concluded the Mercedes F1 boss.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Mercedes Fact File
- The first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009 was also the first twilight race in Formula One, starting at sunset and finishing under the dark skies of the night time. Around 4,700 light fixtures illuminate the Yas Marina Circuit for the twilight race.
- The 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was held on the 1st November. Due to the increased number of races, this year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix takes place exactly one month later – on the 1st December.
- Lewis Hamilton qualified on pole for the first race in 2009 with a 1:40.948, while his 2018 pole position was a 1:34.794 – over six seconds quicker.
- The Yas Marina Circuit has the second-highest number of corners on the F1 calendar, with 21, split between 12 left-handers and nine right-handers. Only the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore has more corners (23).
- In Qualifying, the fastest corners on the circuit are taken flat-out. Drivers can reach 275 km/h and up to 5G through the high-speed Turns 2 and 3. The fastest corner where the driver has to come off the throttle is Turn 20, which is taken at 210 km/h.
- The pit lane at the Yas Marina Circuit has a very unusual layout, featuring a unique pit lane exit with a tunnel passing under the track and a tight left-hand corner. This left-hand corner is actually the slowest turn of the track, taken at 60 km/h. That’s around 5 km/h slower than Turn 7, which is the slowest turn on the actual circuit.
- A lap around the Yas Marina Circuit is one of the busiest ones for gear changes. On average, a driver has to make about 54 over the course of a lap.
- Abu Dhabi is one of the most predictable races on the calendar when it comes to the weather. Ambient temperature is generally between 25 and 30°C and the track tends to start at around 33°C during the race and falls to 28°C when the sun sets.
- The stones used in the tarmac are very light in colour, which keeps peak track temperatures relatively low. FP1 is the hottest session, where track temperature can peak at around 45°C. This is still relatively low compared to a race like Mexico where it can exceed 60°C.
- The two DRS zones are located on consecutive straights, separated by a chicane and with their own individual detection points. This can produce interesting battles, with the driver overtaken into Turn 8 being given a chance to regain the place on the following straight with DRS.