Ferrari have a lot to prove in F1 season finale
ABU DHABI – World champion Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes team
would be excused if they decided to take things a little easy at
Sunday's Formula One season finale in Abu Dhabi while rivals Ferrari
will have plenty to prove.
The Scuderia has never won a race at the Yas Marina course and want
to end another somewhat disappointing season on a high after a
collision between their drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc
two weeks ago in Brazil.
In addition, teams are already preparing for 2020 which marks the
last year before sweeping regulation changes in the sport.
"Abu Dhabi Grand Prix marks the start of the 2020 season in many
ways, with most teams trying out ideas for next year during Friday
free practice," Vettel said.
Vettel and Leclerc were ordered for talks at the Ferrari headquarters
ahead of the season-ender as team principal Mattia Binotto insisted
the team "must make sure that something like that doesn't happen
Ferrari have just three wins this season as they failed again to
seriously challenge Mercedes who ran away with the drivers' and
constructors' world titles for the sixth straight year.
Binotto praised a fightback after the summer holiday "with three race
wins in a row and a run of six consecutive pole positions, as well as
our win in Monza" but what they really want is to finally win the
drivers' crown again they last lifted through Kimi Raikkonen in 2007.
"Of course finishing second will never be good enough for Ferrari and
we are looking ahead to a very intense winter to keep building as a
group. The aim is to come back stronger to be up to the challenges
that await us," Binotto said.
Vettel has three wins in Abu Dhabi from his term at Red Bull where he
won four world titles. But Hamilton is the record winner with four
top spots at the night race on the 5.554km course, and with another
success would move within seven of Michael Schumacher's record 61
Vettel also faces finishing behind a team-mate for only the second
time in his career (the other being in 2014 behind Daniel Ricciardo
at Red Bull) as Leclerc ranks 19 points ahead of him.
But the impressive Ferrari debutant Leclerc will not only want to
keep Vettel at bay, he also still has the chance to finish the season
in third by reclaiming that spot he lost through the Sao Paulo
collision with Vettel.
Leclerc is 11 points behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen into fourth due
to not finishing in Brazil - with Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate
Valtteri Bottas long assured of first and second.
Abu Dhabi also marks the last F1 race for now for German Nico
Hulkenberg who has received no new contract at Renault and failed to
find another team.