How has Ferrari handled the fall-out? Abu Dhabi Grand Prix talking points

2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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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?

If the Brazilian Grand Prix showed us what the 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?

Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Interlagos, 2019
The Ferraris got too close for comfort in Brazil
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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Parting shots

Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Sochi Autodrom, 2019
Is this the end for Hulkenberg in F1?
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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2019 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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39 comments on “How has Ferrari handled the fall-out? Abu Dhabi Grand Prix talking points”

  1. How has Ferrari handled the fall-out?

    In 1 word poorly.

    Should have posted Vettel’s walking papers on the factory floor and have anyone who agreed initial it.

    This vettel clown has been handled with kid gloves far too long and that is why he continues to make the same stupid moves and mistakes over and over.

    1. What’s hilarious is just how deep Charles has got under the skin of the Sebfosi.

      I saw one worshipper of mediocrity have a meltdown on Twitter because in a post race interview Charles referred to the opposing Ferrari as “the other car” instead of “Sebastian”. I had to point out he said that because there are 2 of them and he wasnt referring to his own red machine…

      Quite funny really.

    2. I agree. The surprising silence from Ferrari is surely unfair on Charles Leclerc. There should be at least “Today you are forgiven” message to Vettel during Abu Dhabi GP.

  2. The road rage incident with Lewis (Baku, right?) for me was the most revealing action from Vettel’s side. An “ex-driver-now-coach” type like Marko or Lauda would have spotted the need to do something right away.

    The tanglings with Weber or bad mood when Ricciardo was beating him were taken as normal attitudes for a competitive driver. But those showed somewhat a “anybody’s fault but mine” mindset.

    Ferrari investment in a calm and experienced 4x WDC became some form of old lion fighting for his former status inside the pack.

    1. Leclerc also has similar road rage moments seen this year in Hungary and Brazil. If these two keep unraveling in 2020 we are in for a treat with entertainment while Lewis racks up another title.

      1. Charles also went a bit mental at Monaco. The 2 of them together is a recipe for disaster but hey…that’s Ferrari all over.

    2. Why all this negativity around Vettel.
      Facts, Only Facts!, show that he’s the only driver who hasn’t finished outside the podium since Singapore.

      1. He finished 17th in Brazil apparently.

        1. didn’t finish, just classified.
          Also highest classified racer on 3 wheels ;)

          1. @coldfly Hamilton and Bottas also “finished” none of those races outside the podium SINCE Singapore.

      2. @coldfly The real fact is that Vettel only finished on the podium twice twice out of those 5 races! In other facts, he broke his car in USA banging over a sleeper/sausage kerb and in Brazil by ramming into his team mate.

        The point is that Vettel keeps driving into other cars. Just this season already he hit cars in Silverstone, Monza and Brazil. Plus in Canada Hamilton could only barely avoid being rammed into the wall. And then there is the random spinning like in Bahrain and Monza.

        How can anyone who is a fan of F1 in general or Ferrari in particular not be upset by so much incompetence? Those are 5 races where he showed to be an utter waste of a top car seat. Instead of seeing that car actually add to the excitement/entertainment of the race we see a car flopping around like a fish in the mud. Three seasons in a row now!

        1. In other facts, he broke his car in USA banging over a sleeper/sausage kerb and in Brazil by ramming into his team mate.

          Both fantasys and not facts.

          The sausage kerb was a possible reason but looking at the race you see he did not touched it.
          He did not “ramming into”, he made a diagonal line with the result LEC touched his back and broke the suspension.
          No ramming involved.

          1. You also have to say that other drivers extremely often did the same line as Vettel and some possibly will have gone over it and their car will have handled even more. Vettel was clearly unlucky on this occasion.

            And I agree with how you explain how it clearly wasn’t ramming into Leclerc. We have seen drivers countless times rub wheels gently (which is what this was) and it has just removed the colour and print on the side of the tyres. And no investigation was necessary. Vettel didn’t need to do what he did, but the outcome was incredibly unlucky.

          2. but looking at the race you see he did not touched it.

            Well during the race they actually did show a review of Vettel banging over that kerb and sparks were flying from the inside of his car.

            Vettel was driving straight and then suddenly swerved left into Leclerc. You can play potato potato games, but he clearly rammed into the back of Leclerc’s wheel.

  3. @chaitanya

    ‘Similar road rage moments’? The heck you takling about, at no point in this season has Leclerc driving up alongside another driver and side slammed his car whilst under safety car because he couldn’t admit that he’d taken his eye off the ball and driven into the back of the car ahead.

    He’s been clumsy and over exuberant in overtaking, but there’s a gulf of difference between wheel to wheel contact under racing conditions and a deliberate sideswipe behind the safety car.

    1. @nikkit The way Leclerc simply slammed into the side of Bottas in Hungary was really bad too though. He swerved across track, away from the racing line, into the side of Bottas and then moved back to the racing line.

      Plus that sideswipe he put on Norris in the first lap of Brazil was also quite dirty.

      1. And let’s not forget the incident in Monza which lead to him being ‘black flagged’, at any other time on any other track, he would have been penalised for driving Hamilton off the track.

    2. Like F1saurus : And his defending in Silverstone was way over the border.
      And several other moments his attitude was questionable..

  4. “I don’t see nothing any more” – Is that what he actually said? I wouldn’t have expected the double-negative error from him unless it was a reference to something.

    ”F1’s only sunset race” – A ‘sunset-race’ indeed.

  5. My proposed solution to the Ferrari driver “problem” – let them race with clear rules of engagement on the road and a clear understanding that a team order is a team order. Hire Hulkenberg as reserve driver and give him FP1 time to get used to the car. First guy to disobey a direct team order or take his teammate out – Hulk takes his seat next race and shows what he can do.

    1. I’d agree with this but Ferrari should have their eyes focused on the future, invest in Leclerc and Giovinazzi (to replace Vettel in 2021) so retaining Hulkenberg to sit in the shadow would be unfair to his talents.

      1. Giovanazzi? Haha he is awful absoloute awful. Makes Kimi look excellent

  6. The most annoying thing about the Yas Marina Circuit is that the layout has been compromised so badly by the hotel. The first few corners are actually really good to drive in real life, there was so much potential to get it right. For example, you notice subtle things like camber changes and the slight elevation changes at ground level that you just don’t see in onboard footage. It wouldn’t irk me so much if the hotel was actually extraordinary, but it’s just not. The rooms are actually quite meh considering what you pay for them and they don’t hold a candle to some other 5 star rooms across Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The service is awful too. And the glass panels on the outside of the hotel are invariably dirty due to the dust…

    I say all this having (a) driven the track in one of their F3000 cars and (b) having stayed in the hotel (when it was a Viceroy branded property, things may have bucked up since it changed to W branding).

  7. Do not blame Vettel for all of the accident….Leclerc would know that he would be squeezed as they have identical cars, and Vettel did what most drivers would do to distract the other… Leclerc should have eased over slightly as well…and still would have had the corner…..Also the team should have told Vettel(not asked) to let his teammate past ..fresher tyres etc, and they did not…
    I still think that Leclerc is nowhere yet as good as Vettel….he will be no doubt in the future, but he still has some learning to do…

    1. VET has simply proved himself to be a tier 2 driver IMO. The last few seasons have exposed his time at RB. Shame, as I really like him but it’s there for all to see.

      1. No multiple world champion is 2nd tier driver.

        1. @niefer Vettel clearly is though. Perhaps at some point in time he was better, but clearly in 2014 and 2017, 2018 and 2019 he was very poor.

          1. @f1osaurus ok, I’ll bite: if VET is, then by your scales some other champ might be. Care to name a few?

          2. @niefer There are plenty drivers who could have had multiple WDC’s had they been in Vettel’s dominant car from 2009 to 2013. For instance Villeneuve and Hill could have. Massa even almost won a WDC.

          3. @f1osaurus Don’t deviate from the subject. We’re talking about 2nd tier multiple champions.

          4. @niefer Well Vettel clearly is. Why do i HAVE to name more? It’s bad enough that we have him around still.

        2. @f1osaurus because using your metric one could think of some other names. Well, why can’t you? Perhaps because your artillery only aims for Vettel?

          1. @niefer What on earth are you babbling about? Did you following any form of education where logic or math was taught?

            You said:

            No multiple world champion is 2nd tier driver.

            Yet Vettel clearly is the counter example to your claim. So your claim is disproven. Done.


          2. Oh, good, you know logic! Try this: if VET is 2nd tier because of poor campaigns, so are the multiple champions that presented poor campaigns as well. Now, go study F1 lore and come back with an accurate answer. Maybe you’ll get an A, who knows?@f1osaurus

          3. PS. 1st reply got into review, wouldn’t wait forever.

  8. I can’t see the Abu Dhabi race resolving much for Ferrari. Do they know who their lead driver is? Do they need to choose? Probably because otherwise next season is likely to see the same clashes between the two. Vettel is who he is: he’s not going to change his style now, in essence, fast but clumsy. Leclerc is another question. Personally I don’t think FIA did Ferrari many favours by being so lenient with Leclerc at Monza. It condoned his new ‘aggressive’ style, which was definitely not there before his confrontations with Verstappen this year. The approach may be useful against the latter and Hamilton, giving him the race win at Monza, for example, but it’s not a good combination with his other main rival, Vettel. Championships tend to be won by avoiding incidents – as Ferrari have learnt with Vettel to their cost. Leclerc seemed like a more incident free alternative, faster and a smarter racer. He probably still is, most of his overtaking at least is fine, but less so his defending. Next year will be crucial.

  9. How have Ferrari handled the fall-out?
    The most important thing is understand why the hell both cars shattered upon a so slight touch. Ferrari has been the most fragile of the front runners by some time already.

    I still see it as a racing incident, but I expect VET to arrogate most of the responsibility at the press conferences. Though, if he doesn’t, whatever stance Ferrari may take would be fruitless from the core.

    More engine innuendo

    Whatever happens, I hope it doesn’t prevent Honda to pair up Ferrari and Mercedes.

    Parting shots
    I lament the departure of Hulkenberg but I’m getting more eager to see Ocon back at the grid. I only lament him being at Renault. Oh, well…

    Will Yas Marina excite for once?
    I doubt it. It’s a crappy track and a crappy race. I’d prefer Buddh, Magny-Cours and Valencia on any day. Sochi is poor, granted. Even so, being the finale, Abu Dhabi is hands down the dullest GP of the season.

  10. Ferrari handled the crash very well. Only thing I hoped better from them, would be Seb addmiting to his mistake. Just saying something like. “I was trying to make room for the next braking zone and we touched a tiny amount with huge consequence.”

    Nevertheless they diffused the situation in a good way, Leclerc can feel happy for himself, as despite not moving away as he should have, to preserve his car and points, and not because Seb had any inherent rights to that part of the track.

    Currently Leclercs form somewhat decreased or Vettel stopped struggling, who knows. In any case Leclerc would best be giving more room and get him on the next lap. I hope he learned from that.

    Some drivers are inherently dangerous, sadly this can now be said of Vettel. If Leclerc wants to win a championship, he will be fighting with Vettel a lot and every 3-4 races Vettel crashes with someone or on his own. He needs to make sure it is not with him.

  11. Unless they’ve dealt with Sebs anger issues then not at all…

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