So, here we are, the final race of the season, Mercedes have already showed their domination and Hamilton solidified his position as a champion, but who came out on top for this weekend?
Bottas put himself firmly in the driving seat yesterday in qualifying, taking pole ahead of his teammate and Vettel, with a short run into turn one, it was looking to potentially be a clash of the titans. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out that way, most of the field stayed as they were and the only real incident was Magnussen having a spin after going wide and dirtying his tyres.
Verstappen had a go at the Ferraris but was unable to make any moves at this point.
Bottas kept a decent lead and eventually pitted on lap 20, while Hamilton attempted to pull out a gap but was unsuccessful and pitted three laps later, behind the Finn. He had set a fastest lap but this was trumped by Bottas the next time round.
Hamilton followed the leader and eventually made a mistake which gave Bottas some breathing space for a while.
Eventually, Hamilton turned up the pace and got to within a second after Bottas made a mistake later in the race, but he wasn’t fazed and pushed hard to retain his position, eventually the Brit backed off and was beaten.
So where were Ferrari in all of this, you might ask. Way back in terms of time, unfortunately. It seems the curse of this track for the Italian team has not yet been lifted, Vettel was relatively lonely all race and Raikkonen only had Verstappen for company, although he struggled to initiate any moves.
The second Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo unfortunately retired on lap 20 with a hydraulic issue, a shame to end the season that way.
Talking of retirements, Carlos Sainz in the Renault pulled off in the same place 11 laps later after doing amazingly well to keep the car out of the wall in the pit tunnel. His car was released with one wheel not fully attached, not great for their hopes of leapfrogging Toro Rosso in the constructors.
Fortunately, Hulkenberg managed to finish sixth and secure the points, although this was at some times in doubt. He made a move on Perez which ended up with him taking the position off track and being penalised at his pit stop, but managed to pull out enough of a gap to neutralise this.
Further down the field, Alonso had a good jousting match with outgoing Williams driver, Felipe Massa, the pair were nip and tuck, despite having very different cars and power units. It was great to see two veterans of the sport throwing their weight around. Massa had a doughnut filled farewell at the circuit too, best of luck to him.
Towards the back, unconfirmed driver, Pascal Wehlein managed to beat both Toro Rossos and his teammate, as well as a struggling Lance Stroll, that should certainly help his hopes of being retained for next year.
Overall, the race was not the most exciting, but certainly satisfying. If we are to believe that Bottas will carry the momentum forward into next season and Red Bull to make strides, it could bode well for some close competition, which the sport desperately needs.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our coverage of the day, and the whole season in fact. We will of course be covering testing and any developments over the winter, but can’t wait until next year. Please stay tuned!