Mercedes Show Who’s Boss
The 2019 Formula One World Championship finale, from Yas Marina, was a masterclass in how to dominate a Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have not had the fastest car for much of the year, but they have consistently extracted 100% from their package. With few operational, or driver, errors. That fact is demonstrated by Mercedes not having a pole position in nine (yes, NINE) races, yet the championship was tied-up with a race to spare.
At the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, despite a slow start to the weekend, Lewis Hamilton lead every single racing lap. He secured pole position. He secured fastest lap (again) on worn, hard, tyres. This is not just how you win, but how you crush the spirit of your enemy. And the enemy now go into their winter break with much to think about.
While not necessarily having the fastest package, the world is probably an easier place to be at Red Bull Racing. They have an established number 1 driver and a harmonious driver line-up. There is also still more to come from the Honda engine package. Red Bull also have fantastic depth of engineering talent, and not just at the very top.
Scuderia Ferrari is a different beast. Highly political, highly pressurised, and with huge expectations laid upon them. They will be the team asking for the most answers. How did they have the fast car yet throw away a championship, again?! In terms of engineering, its more of the same please. But the finger of blame will be pointed elsewhere, at the strategists. Too many times this season the initiative has been taken from them due to cumbersome strategy calls. But if the strategists are feeling the pressure, that is nothing compared to their lead driver will feel. Over the past two seasons Sebastian Vettel has demonstrated himself to be error prone in battle, and too easily agitated when the pressure comes from left-field. 2020 will be Vettel’s last chance to prove his name should be uttered in the same breath as Senna, Schumacher, Prost, Alonso, or Hamilton.