December 1st saw the final race on the 2019 Formula 1 calendar, under the lights of the unique day-to-night race in Abu Dhabi. This brings the long, 21-race season to an end, with Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes keeping their World Championship titles for yet another year.
Motorsport fans now face a couple of months of quiet where the majority of the major series have begun their winter breaks. One of the first of these to return will be NASCAR, with the first race of the 2020 season being The Clash at DAYTONA on February 9th.
However, for the past few years, fans have been able to get their motorsports fix during the winter months thanks to the FIA Formula E Championship, an all electric series that runs from November to July. Like with all motorsports, petrol heads can add a little more excitement to races by placing wagers on the outcomes. Companies like Oddschecker help fans to get value for money when they do this by comparing odds and finding promotional offers and free bets.
The Yas Marina circuit was one of the circuits that spawned the idea of the FIA’s Drag Reduction System. The processional title decider, held there in 2010, when Fernando Alonso was unable to overtake the cars in front of him, was one of the biggest reasons for its introduction.
In 2019, we saw the first time this system failed during a race. The first 18 laps were run without drivers being able to activate the flap in their rear wings which assists them in making overtaking manoeuvres. Normally the system gets enabled on lap 3, once all of the crazy antics of the start have settled down.
However, due to a technical glitch that caused the server that handles the DRS system to crash, the FIA disabled it for all drivers. Formula 1’s Race Director, Micahel Masi, commented that it was a “precautionary” measure on safety grounds, adding that it may have been possible for teams and drivers to manage the system manually, but that they felt it was best to prevent its use on safety grounds.
Ferrari have not had a great season, struggling with their aerodynamic packages. They had been tipped to be fighting the Mercedes drivers for both World Championships at the beginning of the season, yet Sebastien Vettel and Charles Leclerc ended up finished 4th and 5th overall. In the Constructions Championship, the Silver Arrows finished 235 points ahead of their Italian rivals, a disappointing end to a season that started with much promise.
The Abu Dhabi race weekend was the perfect metaphor for the Ferrari’s season. In qualifying on Saturday, Leclerc did not have enough time left in Q3 to complete his flying lap after leaving it too late to exit the pits. Meanwhile, Vettel spun his car on the pit straight as he went to attempt his first flying lap.
After finishing the race in third position, Leclerc was forced to face the stewards in a post-race investigation due to a fuel irregularity. Although he was allowed to keep his finishing position, Ferrari were fined €50,000 for the infringement. Many have questioned Ferrari’s poor strategy decisions throughout the season, with former World Champion, Nico Rosberg saying that this weekend another example of that.
The Yas Marina circuit has been a track that has suited the Mercedes cars for several years. 2019 was no different, with the team dominating all weekend. After taking pole on Saturday, Lewis Hamilton led from start to finish, taking a hat-trick from the weekend (pole position, win, and fastest lap). This too was a metaphor for the rest of the season, with Hamilton leading at least one lap in every race apart from the season opener in Melbourne and the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
The race would have been a clean sweep for Mercedes, with a front row lockout in qualifying and one-two finish in the race, if Valtteri Bottas hadn’t picked up a grid place penalty. This is quite evident from his stellar race performance which saw him go from 20th to 4th, narrowly missing out on a podium position.
Hamilton’s dominance has been so strong this year that he broke several records. He scored more points this season than in any other year, beating his own record from last season. He became the first driver to score points in every race of the season for two years. He is also now just one World Championship away from equalling Michael Schumacher’s all-time record of seven.
What’s in Store for 2020?
Major rule changes are on their way in 2021, but that means we have another year in the current format. It is unlikely much will change between now and next season. Ferrari may finally get their act together and mount a charge against Mercedes, but at present this does not seem to be likely. Based on the 2019 season, and the final races like the one at Abu Dhabi, 2020 is Mercedes’ season to lose.