Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Yas Marina, 2017

2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Star Performers

2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Valtteri Bottas, Nico Hulkenberg, Romain Grosjean and Sebastian Vettel were F1 Fanatic’s star performers of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend. Here’s why.


Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2017
Bottas had Hamilton in his mirrors almost all race
Whether or not Lewis Hamilton was giving his all, Bottas had him covered this weekend. He outdid his team mate through the final sector of the lap in qualifying, securing a vital pole position.

In the race there was no repeat of his indifferent start from Brazil and from there on he soaked up the pressure from behind. A small slip at turn five was the only time he allowed Hamilton to get close, and again he could rely on his superior pace in the final sector to draw clear. That, and the near-impossibility of overtaking at Yas Marina. Not a great win but certainly a deserved one.

Nico Hulkenberg

Hulkenberg emerged on top of a closely-fought midfield battle. He laid the groundwork in qualifying by beating the two Force Indias for seventh on the grid.

He held that advantage with a move which was may have been cynical but was certainly effective. Did Hulkenberg bet on getting the standard five-second penalty for cutting a corner to keep Sergio Perez behind and choose to stay ahead of the Force India knowing it was his best chance of keeping the position? If so he knows the rule book and recent precedent well, though it’s no surprise Force India were not impressed.

Romain Grosjean

Although he should have joined his team mate in Q3, Grosjean had cause to feel proud of his race. He locked horns with Lance Stroll in the race, Grosjean finally getting the better of the Williams in their fight for 13th.

That allowed the Haas driver to put some distance between himself at the lower half of the midfield. He surprised Hulkenberg with a great pass into turn one, though it was inevitably reversed in the DRS zone. However he ran out of time to catch the fight for ninth and tenth between Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso.

Sebastian Vettel

Not a particularly spectacular weekend, though he ended the race with an emphatic margin over his team mate. Third was the best on offer for Ferrari on Saturday and Sunday, and Vettel delivered it.


Lance Stroll

Lance Stroll, Williams, Yas Marina, 2017
Stroll’s weekend was a disaster
Even making generous allowances for the fact he was running an older-specification power unit, this was a dreadful weekend for Stroll. He was more than a second off Massa’s pace in qualifying and while he can usually rely on having better race pace, it simply wasn’t there on Sunday.

Having been passed by Grosjean, Stroll demanded an early pit stop, saying he would run to the end on the same tyres if he had to. As it turned out he made two more pit stops and was treating the race as a test session by the time it was over.

Brendon Hartley

Although he finished ahead of his team mate, Hartley had the tougher time of the two on balance. Notably in qualifying, where he struggled to produce a clean lap in Q1 and Pierre Gasly beat him by seven tenths of a second.

He was closer to the pace in the race but was behind his team mate until the latter had a brief spin. Both then ended the race in the queue behind Stoffel Vandoorne.

And the rest

Start, Yas Marina, 2017
Vote for your Driver of the Weekend
Hamilton had what we are now coming to recognise as his standard post-championship slump, though he was still good enough for second. Daniel Ricciardo deserved fourth place after a good run in qualifying but was scuppered by hydraulic problems. He and Vettel put their team mates in the shade.

There was little to choose between the Force India drivers, though Esteban Ocon had the potential to out-qualify Sergio Perez. Massa did a decent job in his final race but lost a place to Fernando Alonso after his pit stop.

Vandoorne picked up damage early on in the other McLaren yet kept a string of quicker cars behind. They included Kevin Magnussen, who’s spun off at the start, and Pascal Wehrlein, who was clearly the quicker of the Sauber pair.

Over to you

Vote for the driver who impressed you most last weekend and find out whether other F1 Fanatics share your view here:

2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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    Author information

    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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    43 comments on “2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Star Performers”

    1. Grosjean didnt join his teammate in Q2(not Q3) & he didnt repass Hulkenberg,but Hulkenberg slowed down to let him through as he did the same maneuvre with Perez at turn 11(the upcoming onboard will fully solve this).For me its difficult to see how a guy that was eliminated in Q1 & a guy that didnt threat anyone but didnt shine as well, are stars of the weekend.

      Personally i would put Magnussen in the struggles.He did manage to pass in Q2,but his whole race was terrible & his start was amateurish.

      1. +1

        I don’t know how Alonso or Ricciardo weren’t as good as Grosjean. And he never passed Hulkenberg.

        Also how is Hartley in the strugglers but Gasly not? Hartley outraced Gasly and Gasly’s spin was his fault. So much wrong in this article.

        1. Yeah Gasly’s race was pretty bad,but at least his qualy was “ok”. STR were that slow & last year in Abu Dhabi,so both guys had a really difficult job here(with mileage limitations as well).

        2. @miltosgreekfan l agree with your gasly comment not sure how keith rated him above hartley who l thought drove a solid race in a poorly balanced car.

      2. @lolzerbob

        Yeah, I think slump is fair. He was clearly struggling in Q3, and nearly crashed twice in Sector 3. The pace appeared to be there, he just didn’t put it together. Then he couldn’t challenge Bottas despite having a new engine.

        He crashed in Mexico. I don’t know why, maybe he needs the pressure of the championship to stay focused.

        Seems like a slump to me.

        1. He crashed in brazil, in mexico he fell behind cause of a puncture vettel caused.

      3. @miltosgreekfan

        Magnussen is not a struggler this weekend. Had to give up his FP1 to Giovinazzi, outrun Grosjean in FP2 and FP3 and Q1, qualified 14th, got a bit too ambitious in the first corner yet drove the wheels of his Haas defending against Wehrlein and as of two retirements he ended end up 13th at the chequered flag. Driving to the into the top ten would haven given high remarks and probably a star performer, but he didn’t break into the points and therefore his race became a rather average one. What is your reasoning for him being a struggler?

        1. @jesbau My reasoning of considering Magnussen a struggler was the fact that Haas was in a tight battle with STR & Renault & every mistake counted. He made 2 big mistakes at the start & he threw the chance of fighting with the upper midfield,as Grosjean showed(despite losing 8 seconds behind Stroll). I have to say that i was harsh on him(i forgot he gave his spot to Giovinazzi) but i expected more from Magnussen.

          1. Fair point – I will also include that despite being faster that Vandoorne whom even had a damage to his car, he did not manage to get past him. The Honda-powered McLaren against a Ferrari-powered Haas on those long straights… We saw in Mexico that even with DRS Alonso could not keep up with Magnussen. But I agree – after Magnussens misadventure on L1 I had a feeling of being disappointed but that got exchanged for the feeling of “meh” at the end.

            1. Yeah,that “meh” you said,could describe his race pretty well IMO

    2. In what universe is finishing second regarded as a “slump”? Did he also have a “slump” at Sochi, or at any of the other races Bottas won, took pole, or any other race where he finished second? Or are we to apply different criteria to this because it is after he won the championship?

      You already claimed that on another article that

      strikingly, in all five of these races his team mate took pole position: Nico Rosberg did so three times in 2015 and Bottas did in both of this year’s races

      Obviously, this shows that they are bogey tracks for Lewis, and he can hardly be expected to dominate every teammate at every track, can he?

      I am just highlighting the subliminal difference in standards always applied to Lewis Hamilton – where nothing less than perfection is expected of him every single time.walk on water. No other driver will be accused of a “slump” just because they came 2nd instead of 1st – even after they had won the championship.

      1. Well at Sochi Hamilton came fourth behind both Ferraris and 36 seconds behind Bottas, who obviously won the race. In a Mercedes, that is a bad weekend. In Austria he had the gearbox penalty but he still didn’t manage to qualify on the front row and during the race couldn’t pull off a pass on a car that was arguably 40-60hp down on his (Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull), in Brazil he made a mistake in qualifying and despite running a great race, he couldn’t get close enough to mount an attack on Kimi Raikkonen, who has arguably underperformed more often than not during the year and in Abu Dhabi he got beaten by Bottas fair and square in both quali and the race. For a driver of Hamilton’s calibre and for the car that he’s driving, 2 consecutive races without a win is definitely a slump, even more so when your teammate gets pole and podium in both of them and actually manages to win one. It’s not a bad thing that 2nd place is considered a slump for Hamilton, in fact, i think it’s a telling thing that we’re used to such a high level from him that even a 2nd place is an indication of a bad race. He drove well in Abu Dhabi, but he had a car capable of winning the race, and didn’t win it.

        1. indeed, i think the same

        2. @xenif1

          For a driver of Hamilton’s calibre and for the car that he’s driving, 2 consecutive races without a win is definitely a slump, even more so when your teammate gets pole and podium in both of them and actually manages to win one.

          This is the most ridiculous thing i have ever heard and shows the kind of thinking that comes from an alternate universe. Going by your logic, any driver who comes second whilst his teammate gets pole or wins a race has undergone a slump. Yes, makes a lot of sense indeed.

          It is people like you that get offended when Hamilton fans infer he is like some sort of racing god, yet you ascribe the same qualities and standards to him. Choose one, as you cannot have it both ways.

          1. Going by your logic, any driver who comes second whilst his teammate gets pole or wins a race has undergone a slump

            This is the exact opposite of what i said when i “A driver of Hamilton’s calibre, and for the car that he’s driving”, statistically, Hamilton is among the all time greats and Mercedes is one of the most dominant teams we’ve witnessed. Come on man you may be a Hamilton hater but give credit where credit is due.

      2. Did he also have a “slump” at Sochi

        Well….didn’t he?

        1. +1

          If there was a like button for comments here i’d smashed it.

    3. Grojean and Magnussen shouldn’t have a seat on F1. They’re just average. Grojean couldn’t match Raikonen and only beaten Maldonado who isn’t a great thing. He’s struggling to beat Magnussen who couldn’t barely beat Palmer.

      I bet if you put any of both against Perez/Hulkenberg/Ocon/Sainz they will have a bad time.

      1. I have no doubt those 4 would destroy grosjean and magnussen, but the latter 2 are also still not the worst drivers in f1 currently.

      2. Just average? Shouldn’t have a seat? All experts agree that Magnussen was superb and driver of the day in Mexico GP and holds very high marks in several other GPs this year and last year. He beat Perez out of McLaren as a rookie. Maybe you are just an amateur judging drivers?

        Kimi, Stroll, Ericsson, Wehrlein, Gastly, Hartley, Vandorne hasn’t showed any true top driver talent this year.

      3. I believe their car doesn’t flatter them. You’re talking multiple podium winner (even in difficult cars) and podium winner. Both have great young driver credential and have had some brilliant races, even in the recent past. Maybe not top 10 drivers, but clearly F1 worthy.

        I’m actually quite surprised Magnussen didn’t push Grosjean more on the whole (especially in quali, as this race was more the exception than the rule).

    4. This was a dreadful race without any highlight whatsoever so I don’t understand on what basis you can tell who was a star performer. Nothing happened, no racing, no passing nothing! But there were many many losers: we the audience.

    5. What does Alonso need to do to get your admiration.
      He was IMO superior to Gro and Vet this weekend.

      1. I honestly didn’t understand this weekend’s so called “Star performers” . For me, the only 3 drivers who stood out were Bottas, Hulkenberg and Alonso.
        Bottas – For a flawless weekend and the grand slam. Pole, Win and Fastest Lap
        Hulkenberg – For getting the best of the rest after a great qualifying and Sunday. His strong finish earned Renault a higher place
        Alonso – For a strong qualifying on a power hungry circuit and then pulling off the impossible move of a Honda overtaking a Mercedes powered car.

        1. I agree. The reasoning for Vettel and Grosjean to be “Star Performers” is quite thin, I think. For Vettel the text from Keith speaks for itself, I think. And for Grosjean:

          Although he should have joined his team mate in Q2, Grosjean had cause to feel proud of his race. He locked horns with Lance Stroll in the race, Grosjean finally getting the better of the Williams in their fight for 13th.

          Locking horns with and winning from Lance Stroll this weekend, a real struggler this weekend and especially during the race, doesn’t mean you are a star performer. It just means you are doing what is to be expected, nothing more.

          1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
            28th November 2017, 10:45

            It wasn’t a grand slam as he didn’t lead every lap

            1. Would that be a Grand Chelem?

            2. It wasn’t a grand slam as he didn’t lead every lap

              You are correct, @fullcoursecaution. According to the official F1-site, Bottas scores his first hat-trick.

    6. I thought Grosjean had a good race for once. I really respected his awareness of the leaders today. He seemed to do a particularly good job of keeping out the way without affecting his own race too much. But I still think these rules need changing. And I’m defending the lapped drivers more than the leaders. It’s not really the lapped drivers’s fault that they are this far behind as their cars just are not fast enough to avoid it a lot of the time, therefore I don’t really think they should have to affect their own race any more than the leaders .

      I am rather surprised Hulkenberg could get a mention really. He got pushed wide by Perez (which is allowed to be done), but instead of pulling back on track, he flawed it and used the shortest route possible and cut the corner. Overtaking is really hard here and given how much better the Renault was compared to the Force India, he quickly built up a gap which made the penalty totally worthless. Even later on when he tried to get passed Grosjean, he ran wide and cut the corner, however this time, he knew he cut it and gave the place back. He end result was great, his race had too many errors for him to be a star performer in my view. Maybe as Keith said, it could have been smart thinking, but making those mistakes and not giving it back looks very unprofessional.

    7. Not a great drive from Gastly, a bit of a haunter that one. Hopefully we don’t see that kind of performance from him again………. gar.

      1. @ninjenius :D

        Vandoorne (Pokemon fan) approves!!

      2. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        28th November 2017, 10:47

        So many puns in there. Gotta catch ’em all!

    8. Final season rankings (counting 1 for each Star award and -1 for each Struggler award):

      10 – Hamilton
      9 – Vettel
      5 – Verstappen
      5 – Hulkenberg
      3 – Alonso
      3 – Ricciardo
      3 – Perez
      3 – Ocon
      2 – Sainz
      2 – Bottas
      1 – di Resta
      1 – Magnussen
      0 – Wehrlein
      0 – Giovinazzi
      0 – Button
      0 – Massa
      0 – Grosjean
      -1 – Hartley
      -1 – Gasly
      -2 – Ericsson
      -2 – Vandoorne
      -3 – Kvyat
      -4 – Stroll
      -4 – Raikkonen
      -6 – Palmer

      The only driver not to have either a Star or Struggler award was Button (who only competed in 1 race).

      Other drivers who did not receive a Star: Hartley, Gasly, Ericsson, Palmer (only Ericsson competed in the whole season).

      Other drivers who did not receive a Struggler: Hulkenberg, Ricciardo, di Resta (only competed in 1 race).

      The most ‘hit-or-miss’ driver appears to be Grosjean, who received 4 Stars (Monaco, Austria, Belgium, Abu Dhabi) but also 4 Strugglers (Russia, Azerbaijan, Italy, Brazil).

      1. @paulgilb

        Thanks for posting these. A very good starting point for driver rankings.

      2. Hulkenberg and Ricciardo only drivers not to receive a struggler? Woop, go Hulkenberg then.

        1. I’m really surprised he didn’t get a struggler in China and especially Baku. In China, he got 2 penalties during the race for breaking the rules and collected 4 penalty points that day too. If I am correct, no other driver on the grid this year has got that many penalty points in one race. Then In Baku, he made one of the most clumsy mistakes too. Turned into a corner as if he could cut it short and hit the wall. It seemed he didn’t realise how much grip he had. That was very unusual for Hulkenberg. I’m just not sure why he didn’t get counted as a struggler in either if this list above is true. I wouldn’t have called him a star performer in that last race like Keith has as he cut the corner on 2 occasions and could have done better than he did. But other than that, it was a great race and I can’t say he’s had any other bad races this year. But I’d probably say his season has only been decent, but nothing special.

          1. @thegianthogweed I think 2017 has been one of Hulkenberg’s better years in F1. He has performed at a consistently high level throughout, of course barring China and Baku (I wouldn’t have put him as a struggler in Baku, since he made one mistake the entire weekend. I’d replace Baku with Malaysia, he was pretty bad there).

            When you say he hasn’t had any other bad races this year, and that his season hasn’t been anything special, you have to take into account his numerous retirements that killed off potentially special results, such as Singapore and Mexico. He even set consecutive fastest laps in Singapore at one point, when the track was drying and was catching Bottas before car problems slowed him down a little and then forced him to retire later on. Hungary could have been another great race and he could have fought with Alonso and Sainz if not for his botched pit-stop.

            Also, 19-1 against his teammates in qualifying is no small feat. True, Sainz had to acclimatize himself in a new team, but this record is still a testament to Hulkenberg’s incredible consistency this year. His qualifying performances in Bahrain, Singapore, Great Britain and Abu Dhabi were especially remarkable. And of course, his one defeat in qualifying came when he couldn’t even participate properly (USA).

            I’ve seen people complain that he missed a podium in Baku, but that is just wrong, since he was running behind Magnussen when he crashed and Magnussed finished 7th in the end. Hulk had only been slightly faster than Magnussen up to that point. Not taking anything away from his silly crash, though.

            One doesn’t need to have consistently spectacular results to have a good season, especially when circumstances are against them, and in his case, he couldn’t. He drove a midfield car throughout the year, which was at best the 4th fastest at some weekends. There were hardly any circumstances in any race that allowed the midfield cars to shine (No rain, no alternate strategies), except probably Baku and Renault wasn’t good enough for a podium there either. Other than that, Hulk gave his best at every chance he got.

            My understanding is, Hulkenberg convincingly beat his teammates and drove at a consistently high level this year, and some of his qualifying performances were a treat to watch. Definitely well above “only decent”.

            1. I maybe have been a bit harsh, but he was only rated the 10th best driver in the mid season driver rankings and at the time, I thought that was just the right place. I disagree about Baku. He didn’t make any other mistakes, but he made one huge one that was totally avoidable and that made him retire. And I don’t think it was a missed opportunity for a win. I don’t know how that shouldn’t make him a struggler though. Finishing in the points in 10th and not doing the best you could have done would have been better than crashing…
              Hulkenberg may have been consistent in qualifying, but IMO, Palmer was by far the worst driver on the grid and Sainz is new to the team so that makes an unfair comparison really and I don’t think it really shows how good he has been this year. He often does get best of the rest though so that is good. I think he’s stronger in qualifying than the races.

              I would probably rate him somewhere around the 8th or 9th best driver this season as I think there have been that many drivers at least who have overall been better. But I can agree I shouldn’t have said only decent. As he was consistent and pretty close to many others, but I still think I would place him a little higher than where he was in the mid season driver rankings.

            2. 19-1 in qualy? When did he lose? The only time i can remember was when he had technical issues in qualy, so i wouldnt count that. He had 100% qualy win rate when both cars were healthy

      3. @paulgilb
        Pretty good ranking I’d say.

      4. Well done @keithcollantine (and @paulgilb for the top up), it’s actually a pretty good reflection of the season ! Vandoorne and Sainz maybe a bit hard done by the start of season, and I’m surprised HUL ends so high…. But that’s still pretty great :
        Vettel and Ham flying high ; VER, RIC, ALO top dogs, a good reflection on Grosjean’s season, a well dosed strugglers’ list and… Perez and Ocon neck and neck. Yep, checks most of the items on the list :D

    9. You know you had few overtakes when you see a driver giving back the position after (yet another) illegal overtake and you call it “a great pass into turn one”.

    10. @keithcollantine, you forgot to give a comment about Sainz (even though Ericsson is mentioned only indirectly when saying Wehrlen was the quicker).
      I was keeping a watch during my view of the race (I saw it later in the day without seeing any news) and noticed how quick he was catching-up to Ocon once the rest of the midfield made their pit-stops (and keeping Hulkenberg at around 5s behind on new super-soft). Both him and Ocon stopped at the same time and of course the team forgot, or failed, to attach the front-left wheel, but it looked certain he would come back out very close to Ocon, clearly in front of Alonso. He did well, in my opinion and was unlucky. Also I think the pit error robbed us of an interesting fight between Sainz and the Force Indias…

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