ESPN rounds up the main talking points from the final grand prix of the season, where Lewis Hamilton claimed his 11th win of the campaign and Fernando Alonso bowed out of the sport after 17 years.
Shock: Seeing Nico Hulkenberg’s car flip over was pretty scary, but more concerning was that he was momentarily trapped inside it while it caught fire. The car was resting against a barrier but the Halo would have obstructed a quick exit — one of the things critics of the device said earlier in the year. That will need to be given serious consideration in future as the FIA works on an evolution of the device for future seasons.
Shocker: This was a dismal race for Valtteri Bottas. The Finn goes into the off-season on the back of one of his worst performances since joining Mercedes, if not the worst. He dropped down the order at mid-distance and was easily picked off by both Red Bull drivers while Hamilton eased home to victory.
Bottas was unlucky at the start of the year but his performances since that puncture robbed him of victory in Baku have just not been good enough. With Esteban Ocon waiting in the wings, the Finn’s days driving a silver car appear to be numbered.
Move of the race: Max Verstappen’s take-no-prisoners approach is great to watch. His wheel-banging pass on Bottas for third was another right out of the Dutchman’s textbook.
No party for Kimi: Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari farewell lasted just 18 laps before he suffered a loss of engine power. The Finn sounded confused and a bit sad on the radio: “What happened, I have no power?”
Sassy Alonso: This weekend has, for some, all been about Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard didn’t seem to care too much for sentimentality in the closing stages. When told he could go and get a point, he replied simply: “I have 1,800 points.” Somehow I don’t think Alonso is going to be losing much sleep without a McLaren race seat next season.
Remember Stoffel, McLaren?: I’m not convinced McLaren remembered it had two cars in this race. With so much hype and gushing messages given to Fernando Alonso — plus a glitzy new livery, a paddock party and a re-named driver briefing room — it was easy to forget Stoffel Vandoorne was also contesting his last race for the team. Fittingly, Vandoorne’s race was pretty forgettable aside for one bit of feisty defensive driving early on. Other than that, he goes to Formula E looking to revive a career that looks dead in the water right now.
Three of the best: Seeing Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso driving in formation on the cool-down lap, and then performing donuts on the main straight, was nice to see. However, it’s sad that it’s the closest we’ve seen all three of them on track for years — fans deserved the chance to see a competitor like Alonso nearer the front of the field, but I maintain he only has himself to blame for the fact he leaves the sport at the end of such a dismal season.
Will Smith watch: I think F1 wanted us to be very aware that Will Smith was at the race, with multiple shots of him throughout the broadcast. It’s all good for F1 as it tries to reach a wider audience but after a while it seemed a bit forced — although his pre-race appearance with Hamilton was thoroughly entertaining.
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) November 25, 2018
Driver of the day: It seems fitting to give this to Hamilton, after the season he had. This race was the perfect way to finish it. Amazingly, the points gap means it is the most comfortable of his five titles so far, quite remarkable given how close this one looked just a few months ago.