Will we get another three-way battle this weekend? Or just another two-way fight at Ferrari? Here are the talking points for this weekend’s season finale.
Who holds the upper hand going into 2020?2020 F1 season is going to be like, then March can’t come fast enough. Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari were all in the hunt for victory.
Will the season finale be as competitive? We can expect Yas Marina will suit Mercedes rather better. Not just being away from the high altitude of Interlagos, but also because the cars spend a lot more time braking and cornering at this circuit, which will suit the higher-downforce W10.
Mercedes’ track record here is also formidable. No other team has taken pole position or won at this track during the V6 hybrid turbo era.
How have Ferrari handled the fall-out?
Mercedes’ success at this track is part of the reason why Ferrari didn’t managed to take a pole position or race win during F1’s first decade of races at this venue. That’s particularly unfortunate given the vast Ferrari World Abu Dhabi sits next to the circuit.
But the more pressing concern for the team will be how to handle its drivers in the wake of their catastrophic collision during the Brazilian Grand Prix. While many outside the team see Sebastian Vettel as being responsible for the crash, can Ferrari afford to publicly single out one driver as being solely responsible? On the other hand, to claim both were partly responsible might be seen as unfair on Charles Leclerc.
It’s a tricky call for the team to get right. Expect the line ‘that was in the past, we focus on the future’ to come up a lot this weekend while behind the scenes they attempt to pour oil on troubled waters.
More engine innuendo
Speaking of Ferrari and oil, the rumblings over what’s going on with their power units – and at least one of their rivals’ – have not gone away. Now, following a series of FIA technical directives, the governing body has also been looking at parts of at least two different manufacturers’ power units, believed to be Ferrari and Honda.
Don’t be surprised if more emerges on this story at Yas Marina, particularly as teams prepare to go their separate ways for the winter, with no one wanting to get left behind on power unit development in the meantime.
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At least two drivers are expected to bow out of Formula 1 after this weekend’s race.
Robert Kubica has already confirmed he won’t be racing for Williams again in 2019 following his disappointing return to the sport. He’s lagged well off the pace of his team mate, and the Williams loses so much time on the straights it’s hard to imagine the team will be a competitive force this weekend.
It will also be farewell to Nico Hulkenberg, who has lost his place at Renault and is unlikely to take Kubica’s place. He’s understandably out of the loop as far as the team’s future plans go (“I don’t see nothing any more”, he remarked in Brazil) but has continued to qualify well in the RS19. The team is facing unexpected pressure from Toro Rosso for fifth place in the constructors’ championship, and need both their drivers on form this weekend.
Will Yas Marina excite for once?
For all the spectacle of F1’s only sunset race, the action at the Yas Marina circuit rarely matches the glittering sight of the hotel above it. The odd layout, slow corners occasionally punctuated by even slower chicanes, could hardly be better designed to discourage racing. The track ranks 25th out of 29 in our RaceFans’ Circuit Ratings.
Whether this weekend’s race turns out any better will likely come down to how close the top teams are on performance. Failing that, at least we should see a few doughnuts, as the teams will be done with their power units after this weekend.
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