Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2017

Bottas gets a chance to redeem himself in final race

2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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The stakes are high for Valtteri Bottas. He’s had a difficult second half of the season with Mercedes but victory in the final race could see him end the year on a high.

He’s on pole position, as he was in Brazil two weeks ago. But on that occasion he was too timid at the first corner, allowing Sebastian Vettel through into a lead he was never going to relinquish.

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Renault, Yas Marina, 2017
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
In Abu Dhabi he will have to face down his team mate as they head into the first corner together. If he can manage that much he should be well-placed to claim the win, particularly as he’ll be in a position to have first call on strategy from Mercedes and be protected from the ‘undercut’.

Hamilton’s chances of passing him on track are not great, as he hinted at after qualifying. However Hamilton does have the advantage of having a fresher engine in his Mercedes having been able to fit one in Brazil following his crash in Q1.

Mercedes were comfortably ahead in qualifying as expected. But much of that can be put down to their usual one-lap advantage on Sunday, as their superior second sector times hint at.

Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo on row two will be counting on splitting the two Mercedes drivers at the start if they are to have any chance of threatening them for victory. Their race stint pace looks good enough for this to be a possibility, though as this is expected to be a straight one-stopper they won’t have much room to manoeuvre unless the Safety Car comes out.

There’s a tremendous battle brewing behind the ‘big six’. Renault are back on form after a rough few races, though question marks remain over their reliability in the hot conditions, and only Nico Hulkenberg was able to qualify where the car belonged. The Force Indias are poised for another fraternal battle and have Felipe Massa close behind.

Fernando Alonso is one ‘new tyre pole’ in 11th which he’s not dissatisfied with. “It’s not worth making it into Q3 to be ninth or 10th and then start on a scrubbed set when the guy just behind you can start on fresh tyres,” he said. “Tomorrow we’ll be that guy, and we’ll take advantage of the situation.”

Given their straight-line speed disadvantage of up to 15kph McLaren’s best hope is to head for the pits early if they can and stretch that second stint. They won’t have to worry as much about tyre life at the start of the race and will have a slight grip advantage over those one worn rubber. Expect the usual combative first lap from Alonso.

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Qualifying times in full

DriverCarQ1

Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Valtteri BottasMercedes1’37.3561’36.822 (-0.534)1’36.231 (-0.591)
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’37.3911’36.742 (-0.649)1’36.403 (-0.339)
3Sebastian VettelFerrari1’37.8171’37.023 (-0.794)1’36.777 (-0.246)
4Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’38.0161’37.583 (-0.433)1’36.959 (-0.624)
5Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’37.4531’37.302 (-0.151)1’36.985 (-0.317)
6Max VerstappenRed Bull1’38.0211’37.777 (-0.244)1’37.328 (-0.449)
7Nico HulkenbergRenault1’38.7811’38.138 (-0.643)1’38.282 (+0.144)
8Sergio PerezForce India1’38.6011’38.359 (-0.242)1’38.374 (+0.015)
9Esteban OconForce India1’38.8961’38.392 (-0.504)1’38.397 (+0.005)
10Felipe MassaWilliams1’38.6291’38.565 (-0.064)1’38.550 (-0.015)
11Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’38.8201’38.636 (-0.184)
12Carlos Sainz JnrRenault1’38.8101’38.725 (-0.085)
13Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1’38.7771’38.808 (+0.031)
14Kevin MagnussenHaas1’39.3951’39.298 (-0.097)
15Lance StrollWilliams1’39.5031’39.646 (+0.143)
16Romain GrosjeanHaas1’39.516
17Pierre GaslyToro Rosso1’39.724
18Pascal WehrleinSauber1’39.930
19Marcus EricssonSauber1’39.994
20Brendon HartleyToro Rosso1’40.471

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Valtteri Bottas17.047 (4)41.090 (1)38.094 (1)
Lewis Hamilton16.927 (1)41.109 (2)38.239 (2)
Sebastian Vettel17.000 (2)41.334 (3)38.371 (3)
Daniel Ricciardo17.166 (5)41.417 (4)38.376 (4)
Kimi Raikkonen17.006 (3)41.434 (5)38.446 (5)
Max Verstappen17.206 (6)41.546 (6)38.576 (6)
Nico Hulkenberg17.339 (10)41.974 (10)38.774 (7)
Sergio Perez17.315 (8)41.585 (8)39.310 (11)
Esteban Ocon17.350 (11)41.568 (7)39.400 (13)
Felipe Massa17.229 (7)41.750 (9)39.327 (12)
Fernando Alonso17.499 (16)41.990 (11)38.831 (8)
Carlos Sainz Jnr17.442 (13)42.053 (13)39.096 (10)
Stoffel Vandoorne17.427 (12)42.022 (12)38.926 (9)
Kevin Magnussen17.469 (15)42.121 (15)39.586 (14)
Lance Stroll17.335 (9)42.087 (14)39.973 (18)
Romain Grosjean17.454 (14)42.302 (16)39.758 (16)
Pierre Gasly17.765 (19)42.303 (17)39.656 (15)
Pascal Wehrlein17.650 (18)42.450 (19)39.801 (17)
Marcus Ericsson17.625 (17)42.373 (18)39.996 (19)
Brendon Hartley17.855 (20)42.450 (19)40.154 (20)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes331.8 (206.2)
2Felipe MassaWilliamsMercedes329.4 (204.7)-2.4
3Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes329.0 (204.4)-2.8
4Esteban OconForce IndiaMercedes328.5 (204.1)-3.3
5Lance StrollWilliamsMercedes327.9 (203.7)-3.9
6Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes326.3 (202.8)-5.5
7Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari325.6 (202.3)-6.2
8Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari324.5 (201.6)-7.3
9Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari324.2 (201.4)-7.6
10Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG Heuer322.7 (200.5)-9.1
11Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari322.5 (200.4)-9.3
12Max VerstappenRed BullTAG Heuer322.2 (200.2)-9.6
13Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari321.2 (199.6)-10.6
14Pascal WehrleinSauberFerrari321.0 (199.5)-10.8
15Nico HulkenbergRenaultRenault320.1 (198.9)-11.7
16Carlos Sainz JnrRenaultRenault319.1 (198.3)-12.7
17Pierre GaslyToro RossoRenault318.3 (197.8)-13.5
18Stoffel VandoorneMcLarenHonda316.3 (196.5)-15.5
19Fernando AlonsoMcLarenHonda315.8 (196.2)-16.0
20Brendon HartleyToro RossoRenault314.2 (195.2)-17.6

Over to you

Who’s going to win the final race of the year? Can Bottas end his difficult second half of the season on a high?

Share your views on the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in the comments.

2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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7 comments on “Bottas gets a chance to redeem himself in final race”

  1. It’s not worth making it into Q3 to be ninth or 10th and then start on a scrubbed set when the guy just behind you can start on fresh tyres

    There’s an artificial rule I wouldn’t be sorry to see the back of – not that we will. It’s a disadvantage for being ahead

    1. I remember Grosjean’s 2016 Bahrain Qauli. The team was actually celebrating that he got out into Q2 making him the first guy on new tires which he exploited beautifully by finishing fifth.

      That rule has to go. In recent races we’ve seen from top teams starting at the back that a long first stint on a harder compound pays dividends at the end of a race when you can take a softer set much longer compared to the guys who started on them.
      Vettel 4th in Malaysia, Verstappen 4th at USA and Hamilton recently in Brazil. All started on harder compounds so in hindsight those drives are overhyped if you know you can start from the back and still have a shot at the podium if you have the car for it normally.

    2. Pretty much every tyre rule there is, are a bit of a joke if you ask me

  2. Now that is what you should have done two weeks ago Lewis. Instead of putting it at the pitlane and forcing Valterri to do all the work. All Lewis needs to do is take out Seb and Valterri can have an easier race. Though that is very stupid and brainless.

  3. The distance to turn 1 on this circuit is similar to the distance into turn 1 in Brazil, and we all know how it went there for Bottas. Hopefully, he will manage to stay in the lead going into turn 1 this time around.

    1. You’re right. The first corner at Abu Dhabit is usually heavily disputed. Under normal circumstances, if Hamilton has even a slightly better getaway, I’d expect him to take the lead, and maybe even Vettel getting past Bottas. So I just wonder whether Hamilton/Mercedes may try protecting Bottas rather than racing each other. Then again maybe not. Bottas’s chances of taking 2nd place in the championship are really down to a Vettel DNF so I imagine Hamilton will storm off if he can and they’ll work out the points and positions at the end of the race if Bottas could grab a totally unlikely second overall.

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