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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix signals end of a difficult F1 season for Williams

November 26, 2018

So the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix happened on Sunday.

It was memorable for a number of ‘lasts’: Kimi Raikkonen’s last in a Ferrari; Sergey Sirotkin, Stoffel Vandoorne, Marcus Ericsson and of course Fernando Alonso’s last Grands Prix (at least for a while in the wily old Spaniard’s case – he hasn’t quite cut all ties with F1 or the McLaren team just yet!)

It could also be the last Grand Prix where Max Verstappen isn’t a real threat for the World Championship.

There was a real feeling in Abu Dhabi that long-time championship protagonists Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, who between them have won nine of the last eleven Formula 1 World Championships, had reluctantly allowed a third driver to join their title dialogue.

Whether or not Honda (for it is almost solely in their hands) will give him the tools to sustain a World Championship tilt next year remains to be seen.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was memorable for Williams as being the last as Williams Martini Racing, signalling the end of a title sponsorship deal that dates back to the dawn of the turbo-hybrid era in 2014.

The Williams team also bade farewell to Rob Smedley, Head of Vehicle Performance, and #1 driver Lance Stroll too, (albeit strangely, still not officially, despite Williams officially announcing their two drivers for 2019 and current Racing Point Force India driver Esteban Ocon, whose place Stroll is set to take next season officially being announced as Mercedes’ reserve driver.)

The aren’t alone as ‘many people are leaving’ Williams according to 2019 Williams driver Robert Kubica.

And so in many ways it feels like the end of an age, if not an era.

But what the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix won’t live long in the memory of Williams fans for, is the racing.

Neither driver had the car to challenge for points.

‘It was such a painful race’ said Sergey Sirotkin, suffering from the ubiquitous cooling issues that have plagued Williams all season long.

Lance Stroll was slightly happier with the race, stating that he was ‘pleased with the start and the race in general and happy with my performance’.

Having said that he was clearly relieved that the season was over, adding that he was looking forward to going away and recharging his batteries and preparing for 2019.

A 13th place finish for Stroll and 15th for Sirotkin was their reward.

It was, perhaps, fitting that their season ended in the same way it has continued from the outset.

Although, with so many key players departing the team, it would have been nice to have given them a nice farewell and finish the season on a high.

But it wasn’t to be.


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